Noses to the ground, dogs Maddie and Rua searched relentlessly among darting mice to track down at-risk grey ducks nesting in grassland tagged for Kapiti Expressway development but found only one dead mallard.
Alliance project ecologist Matiu Park said the rare grey ducks were known to nest in the area called Kiwi Pond, a temporary wetland south of Wharemauku Stream.
After three days of searching through overgrown grass and blackberry, and occasional diversions to chase rats and mice, the only duck they found was the dead mallard, which appeared to have been savaged by a cat.
Under the expert guidance of ecologist and dog handler Joanne Sim, Maddie, 7, and Rua, 2, scoured half of the 10-hectare block this week and would probably return for another search. If any grey ducks were found nesting, an exclusion zone would be established, Park said.
Enabling earthworks were scheduled to begin in the area, which was one of six large ecological mitigation areas along the route.
It would be extensively planted with native species to create a wetland alongside the expressway.
The next construction phase will start in the area in December with a temporary crossing over Wharemauku Stream before major earthworks begin between Raumati Rd and the stream and from the stream to Kapiti Rd.
- The Dominion Post
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