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The Birds of Ulva Island
   Open Sanctuary

We have an occasional blog recording our observations of the natural world of Stewart Island through the seasons.  





Evening Bird Song

I use an Edirol R-09HR  for field recordings.
In time I hope to build a library of the various songs and phrases we hear. You will find these  on the appropriate birds pages, with a short explanatory note as to the circumstances. The recordings will be in MP3 format. But the original recordings are .wav, sampled at 24bit/96khz.



The story of the Ulva Island Sanctuary probably starts with the efforts of Charles Traill, the first Postmaster, who persuaded the Government of the day to have the Island declared a reserve over 100 years ago. Ulva became a "destination" for early tourists, partly because of its Island situation and virgin forest and partly because of it's "Southern-most Post Office" status. Stewart Island forest by then would have been quite significantly logged within the area around the village and for some distance to the west.

Rats and later White-tailed deer were early invaders of both Ulva and Stewart Island and over the years had a significant effect on forest ecosystems.

The deer problem on Ulva was addressed by NZ Forest Service as early as 1969/70 with a hand poisoning program, which was ultimately successful after some 4 or 5 years work. This resulted in significant regeneration of palatable species

Department of Conservation took over management of Stewart Island from the old Lands & Survey Dept and NZ Forest Service in the '80's  and initiated a hand eradication program aimed at rats on Ulva in the '90's. This probably took only 9 months work although it was another 4 years before the Island was declared rat free and threatened/endangered species liberation could begin.

Today Ulva Island is a foundation member of a group of animal free sanctuaries and is perhaps the closest to pristine of any area of new Zealand open to the public. The response of Ulva Island to it's animal free state is best illustrated by a comparative walk through forest on Stewart Island, followed by time on Ulva.











Birds we have seen on the way to and while ashore on Ulva Island

(in no particular order)

Click on the underlined birds names for details on each bird.
In time we hope to have bird song and photos for most, if not all species
















There are many excellent birding books available but in particular I have used the Readers Digest Complete Book of New Zealand Birds (ISBN 0 949819 62 X) to supplement my own observations. . Long out of print and coffee table size it is often found in second hand book shops at around $50.

For further reference books look on our bibliography page

As well as our own blog I have been honored to be accepted as a contributor to "Focusing on Wildlife". There you will find articles from contributors world wide... an excellent resource celebrating the natural diversity this planet hosts.

Link the Gloster Birder,  past guests with us  to Ulva.

I would never count myself a twitcher, rather someone who is interested in the Natural World. But of course New Zealand  is a world where birds are the dominant.... virtually the only..... large indigenous fauna and both Iris & I spend a significant amount of time just watching our feathered friends, and gain a lot of enjoyment from this.

And as a lot of our avian species are migratory we are always interested in other places and their birds, and it was while following up on migratory birds I came across BirdLife Community . Which I have to say interested and impressed us enormously. We strongly reccomment birders including it  as a must visit site.