Dedication has seen kākāpō numbers in New Zealand now at their highest levels they have been in decades. And the chubby funny-faced parrots are delightful.
Their distinctive booming used to be heard throughout the bush.
But now imagine that same bird - but much much bigger. So big in fact it just about came up to your waist.
At the former gold and coal mining town of St Bathans (formerly Dunstan Creek) scientists have for years been excavating the bones of ancient birds and animals.
Among their discoveries was one of the biggest swans to have ever lived, a type of duck, and a raptor.
One of the biggest was Heracles Inexpectatus - the Hercules parrot.
Weighing about 7kg it lived about 20 million years ago. It was also, like its modern day cousin, flightless.
A research team in the Central Otago area have found up to 40 new species and unveiled the Hercules parrot in 2019.
The fossil layer is partly exposed around the St Bathans area. It is named after the Scottish border village of Abbey St Bathans by early surveyor John Turnbull Thomson whose surveying in the South Island saw the creation of whole towns.
He was born on August 10, 1821, in Northumberland, England to Alexander and his wife Janet. After his father died when he was young, he and his mother lived in Abbey St Bathans.
He studied engineering and his career took him to Singapore where he improved the water supply and made elaborate surveys of the Straits of Singapore, carried out repairs on the Coleman Bridge, as well as the architect and builder of the Horsburgh Lighthouse, the first bridge across Kallang River as well as other famous works.
He came to New Zealand in 1856 where he became Chief Surveyor of the Otago province and then Surveyor-General of New Zealand.
He travelled many miles on horse with little equipment, sketching as he went in a notebook. Many of those were later turned into oil paintings, creating many of early New Zealand, many of which are at the University of Otago Library Hocken Collection.
It was Thomson who was the original surveyor of Invercargill.
He named Mt Aspiring, Mt Pisa, the Lindis Pass and other rivers and features. Thomson produced the first map of the interior of Otago.
In October 1858 he married Jane Williamson and his descendants still live in the South Island.
Thomson also published a number of articles and six books, including one about his life as a surveyor in the East and in New Zealand.
He died in Invercargill on October 16, 1884, some months after suffering a stroke and is buried in Saint Johns Cemetery with a rather impressive monument.
Picture from the Birmingham Museums Trust.
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