Day 2 on Anchor Island. 25th December 2009. Merry Christmas!

Apart from short hopper* run to feed Rooster, whose hopper is only about 15 minutes away from the hut, Christmas Day was officially set aside as a day off.  Rooster is a young male kakapo, who, for the majority of his life, has been dogged by health problems. After being treated at Auckland Zoo for an infection that had persisted for about a year, he was released back on to Anchor Island but suffered a relapse and so was kept in isolation in a pen for around 2 months whilst he was nursed back to health. He had lost lots of weight but has now put it back on and looks great, a real handsome, fat, happy and confident kakapo if I ever I saw one. However the result of constant medical attention is that he has become a bit familiar with humans (but nowhere near as imprinted as Sirocco). On the way to his hopper, there was Rooster in all his glory to greet Steve and I – an awesome Christmas present! I was so awestruck/excited/nervous at seeing my first kakapo in the wild to the point where I was shaking! We must’ve watched him for about 30 minutes, but he was also studying us as much as we were him. He would creep towards Steve, then pace backwards, and then do the same with me. At one point, it seemed that it had suddenly dawned on Rooster the precarious situation his inquisitive nature had gotten him into, and trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, he  innocently picked up the nearest twig that happened to be by his feet, chewed it (and then dribbled said chewed twig everywhere), all the while keeping a close eye on Steve and I. Was a real treat to stumble across him by accident in the wild and not purposefully looking for him, especially since kakapo are nocturnal and normally so elusive. Back at the hut, I helped with dinner by peeling vegetables and whisking butter to make brandy butter for the Christmas pudding. I also had the important job of adding just the right amount of brandy to taste. Three tablespoons are recommended, but after consulting with Steve, it was decided that the butter finally tasted just right with 7 tablespoons of brandy. We also started drinking quite early whilst making the dinner. This kind of excess became the theme of hut life on Anchor Island. Dinner itself was delicious. The boys had chicken and I had veggie sausages with lots of stuffing, roasted vegetables includingd that the butter finally tasted just right after 7 tablespoons. kumara (sweet potato) and carrots, gravy, stuffing. Played Scrabble and cards after dinner, I put the Santa suit (far too big with a large unflattering hole in the crotch) and beard on tonight and we braved the wind and rain to take some mulled wine to the bench outside the hut that overlooks the ocean. Came back inside and watched the Clint Eastwood movie ‘The Outlaw Josie Wales’ to round off a great Anchor Christmas!

*Kakapo that are being supplementary fed have nutritional pellets drizzled with flax oil put out for them at specially designed kakapo feed stations called hoppers at various locations around the island.

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