Day 1 on Anchor Island. 24th December 2009. Arriving on Christmas Eve.

Picked up around 4pm by Steve in Te Anau. He was stressed. He and another kakapo ranger had had a nightmare of a day trying to capture 4 kakapo chicks on Codfish Island for transfer and release on to Anchor Island, however one chick they managed to catch was very poorly and so last-minute Christmas Eve arrangements had to be made to fly the sick bird by helicopter to Auckland Zoo to recieve immediate medical attention. With the time left available, they only managed to catch 1 other kakapo (JEM) who I met in Steve’s car. We were quarantined for any seeds, insects, etc. that might pose a risk to the island flora and fauna  of Anchor Island and then flown to our destination by helicopter. Arrived around 7pm. Met 3rd Anchorian who is already based there, Tim. Couldn’t believe that on a remote island of 3 people, almost as far away as I could be from home, I realised that I’d already met Tim through the Glasgow Uni Zoological Society at the legendary weekly cheese and wine evenings – small world indeed! Settled into the hut (the only one on the island) that I would call home for the next 2 weeks. Unpacked the food hampers sent by DOC. Have never seen so much food before. They’d also sent us Christmas decorations, fairy lights, crackers, alcohol, Christmas cake and a Santa costume! Tim had already prepared an amazing vegetarian cannelloni dinner for us arriving but before we tucked in, we took a 2 hour hike around the island up and down steep, deep, muddy terrain to release JEM into the dense native bush of Anchor Island. Was a really special moment seeing her venture off  to explore her new home. Although I thought I was relatively fit, I realised how unfit I was compared to the boys – was so out of breath. They say it takes a couple of days to get used to the terrain. After dinner, Tim dressed up as Santa and we decorated the hut with tinsel and bobbles, listened to music, drank alcohol, played Scrabble and dinosaur Top Trumps, wished each other Merry Christmas at midnight and went to bed for we were all quite tired.

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