Seeing native birds soar through Mt Taranaki’s bush has boosted Danny Robinson’s passion for conservation. ‘The mountain is special. I’m in awe of the huge trees and amazing bird life. The constant bird calls set your mind at ease,’ he says.

Danny is one of a group of volunteers who have spent time monitoring toutouwai/robin on Mt Taranaki in the last couple of months. He ventured up the Mounga three times, looking for the birds with 17 other Taranaki volunteers.

Danny was inspired to volunteer with Taranaki Mounga’s bird monitoring team by a fellow Shell New Zealand employee and local conservation groups Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust and Taranaki Conservationists. Shell New Zealand are one of the founding sponsors of the 20-year Taranaki Mounga project to transform the mountain, ranges and islands of Taranaki. ‘I’m really enjoying the conservation work and Shell do a great job keeping us connected to projects its involved with,’ says Danny.

Before working for Shell New Zealand, Danny had mainly visited the Mounga on school visits. ‘I love tramping but have always been very wary of the mountain. Now I’ve built up enough confidence to go up on my own.’

A highlight for Danny was getting up close to a Kiwi recently released on the Mounga. ‘I felt especially privileged that one of the birds ran through the crowd and over my foot!’ he laughs.

The volunteers played an important role in monitoring the toutouwai investing 280 hours of their time over three weeks, says DOC Senior Biodiversity Ranger Emily King. Of the 50 toutouwai released on the Mounga in April this year, three pairs have been found to have chicks. Others have been spotted outside the release area.

The information gleaned by the volunteers have boosted the confidence of the Taranaki Mounga project to return more toutouwai to the mountain. ‘Because we have pairs settling and breeding in the 1000ha of rat control, we will translocate another 50 toutouwai in May next year,’ says Emily.

Volunteers will also be required for post breeding monitoring in February next year to determine how many females survived during the breeding season, as they are most vulnerable from predators while incubating their eggs. If you are keen to help then please contact Emily on 027 293 4673

Danny on Mt Taranaki