Se­cre­tive birds back in Porirua

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

You might have more chance of hear­ing Porirua’s new­est res­i­dents than ac­tu­ally see­ing them.

A group of ‘‘se­cre­tive’’ and atrisk na­tive birds has been rein­tro­duced into Pau­ata­hanui Wildlife Re­serve, a habi­tat they last oc­cu­pied in the 1980s.

In the first trans­fer of its kind, about 25 Fern­birds - named for their dis­tinc­tive tail - were trans­ferred from Taranaki last week, De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion ranger Lee Barry said.

‘‘They’re quite se­cre­tive, they act like lit­tle mice,’’ she said.

Would-be bird spot­ters should lis­ten for the bird’s dis­tinc­tive call, a ‘‘u-tick’’ sound given as a duet by mem­bers of a pair, she said.

The birds, who look like tiny spar­rows with long ragged tails, bur­row through dense ground veg­e­ta­tion and were rarely seen by peo­ple.

‘‘They also don’t fly very well so peo­ple should look just above the veg­e­ta­tion which is where they some­times flut­ter along.’’

Apart from a ‘‘cou­ple of birds hang­ing about’’ in es­tu­ar­ies at Waikanae and Fox­ton, the breed had been largely ab­sent from the lower North Is­land.

‘‘In the 1980s there were still a few liv­ing at Pau­ata­hanui but a fire de­stroyed the last of their habi­tat and the poor lit­tle guys had a hard time af­ter that.’’

The birds were packed into in­di­vid­ual car­ri­ers stuffed full of grasses to make the long trip south in the ex­per­i­men­tal move.

Barry said the en­vi­ron­ment the birds had come from was dif­fer­ent to Porirua’s so the tiny crea­tures might not stick around.

‘‘They may shift to peo­ple’s gar­dens which is why we’d love the pub­lic to keep an eye out for them.’’

The re-in­tro­duc­tion was pos­si­ble due to decades of restora­tion work on the estuary, car­ried out by vol­un­teers from the For­est and Bird Pau­ata­hanui Re­serve Com- mit­tee.

‘‘They’ve worked at it for 30 years and this is a to­tal credit to that.’’

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Wanda Tate said the group had turned things around by grow­ing and plant­ing thou­sands of na­tives, restor­ing nat­u­ral drainage and ponds, and build­ing tracks, board­walks and bird hides with the sup­port of DOC.

She asked that sight­ings of the birds, who would be wear­ing brightly coloured bands around their legs could be re­ported to pau­ata­hanuire­servecom­mitte

@out­look.com.

Sh­hhh: A rarely-seen fern­bird.

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