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Anybody familiar with bird conservation knows that the kakapo was one of the most endangered birds on the planet.

By the late 80s, the population of this large nocturnal parrot, had slumped to 50 birds. Of these, only 12 were female, and none had bred successfully in 10 years.

The threats are the “standard” introduced cats and rats, whose predatory habits hit females, eggs and chicks heavily.

A lot of resources have been poured into generating a recovery, and currently the population sits at about 124 birds. Most of these live on Codfish Island- off Stewart Island. This island probably has more volunteers and DoC staff helping breeding success, than there are actually birds on the island :).

One of the earlier breeding successes of the early 90s, led to a male parrot (Sirrocco) being habituated to people. This means that the guy thinks he’s more of a person, than a parrot. So at the moment, he’s being used for advocacy purposes.

This week at Auckland Zoo the bird has been on display to the public (via special night-time bookings). So, we had to go and look :)

My technique for photography here was to take a sharp lens (the Tamron 90/2.8), bump the ISO to 1600 and keep the lens wide-open. Alas, I still had to shoot through glass (needless to say, flash photography is not permitted). I also turned the camera display off to keep things dark.

The shots reflect this- but given I’m shooting at a high ISO, though glass and 1/10 sec and f2.8, I’m actually rather pleased with the result.

Fortunately this is a setting where the combination of a low-light prime and a stabilised body helps. Even so, I doubt that National Geographic is going to come knocking to get the picture off me :)