Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 10th, 2008
It is always good to update a year old story. The Kokako ~ the New Zealand version of the ivory-billed woodpecker intrigue ~ is back in the news.
The Kokako has recently been in the newspapers again, with a new sighting of this contemporary cryptid.
Alec Milne, an amateur ornithologist from Golden Bay, in the Nelson region at the top of the South Island, has reported to the New Zealand Department of Conservation that he has recently heard what he believes was the call of the South Island kokako at the head of the Cobb Valley in Kahurangi National Park, near Nelson. In 2005 Mr Milne saw a bird fitting the description of the South Island kokako in the same area.
The South Island kokako is assumed to be extinct though there have been a number of unverified reports of sightings or hearing South Island kokako over the years.
Mr Milne states that on 8 March he was with two other men in the area of the head of the Cobb Valley and heard unusual calls from a patch of beech forest. Scanning the forest with binoculars he saw a light-coloured bird drop down from the canopy. He was too far away to get a proper description. When Mr Milne was about 80 metres from the forest he heard a series of 3 distinct single notes. Over the next half hour, sitting about 50m from the forest, he and his companions twice more heard a series of 2 or 3 single or double notes.
Mr Milne briefly saw what he believes was a South Island kokako in November 2005 in the same area. He saw the bird from 20m away. He said it was uniformly slate grey with a body size slightly larger than a Californian quail and some bright orange colouring at the base of its bill.
Department of Conservation Rangers to Search
Two Department of Conservation Golden Bay rangers are going into the area this week with Alec Milne to look for any sign of South Island kokako. They are taking cameras and tape recording equipment with them.