Good news about birds

by Helen Martin

Bittern photo Mike Daniel

One of the joys of living out this way is the privilege of sharing our patch with some of nature’s beautiful creatures.
The secretive Australasian bittern/matuku, whose conservation status is ‘threatened – nationally critical’, is a valued resident in South Head’s wetlands. It is also occasionally spotted on Helensville farms, and Mike Daniel reports that for the past 20 years he has occasionally seen amatukuon the dairy farm he owns with wife Leda. The time frame indicates they are breeding there, but because they’re so well camouflaged, they’re mostly hidden. Recently Mike managed to get a photo of one in its classic, frozen pose.

Ruru photo Richard Kidd

Richard and Dianne Kidd, who have only ever seen one matukuon their Whenuanui Farm, and that was about ten years ago, enjoyed a recent adventure when Richard found a young morepork/ruru with an injured clavicle sitting on the woolshed track. He shifted it into the shade in a spot away from predators, but it was unable to fly. When it was still there after 24 hours they took it to Vets North in Helensville, who did a fantastic job giving the bird first aid, free of charge, before sending it off to Auckland Zoo. There it was assessed and passed on to Massey University’s veterinary teaching WildbaseHospital in Palmerston North, where it is being cared for and learning to fly again.

Kiwi Mataia photo Keith Knewstubb

Locals are familiar with the sterling work of Gill and Kevin Adshead and their large team of supporters and volunteers, whose work restoring the ecology of Mataia, Glorit (just up the road from Helensville) includes populating the area with the North Island Brown Kiwi. Two of the 80-odd kiwi now on the property are fitted with transmitters which provide information about how they are doing, especially regarding losses through predators and breeding news. Monitoring the nests with cameras also provides valuable information. When new transmitters are fitted the kiwi are also weighed. A recent fitting has shown they are significantly lighter than usual due to the exceptionally dry weather.

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