An­der­sons Bay shal­lows at­tract heron

Otago Daily Times - - FRONT PAGE - SA­MUEL WHITE sa­muel.white@odt.co.nz

A RARE white heron has been spot­ted fre­quent­ing the shal­lows of An­der­sons Bay but where it came from is any­one’s guess.

The white heron, or ko­tuku, is be­lieved to have been vis­it­ing the area for the past few weeks.

Dunedin res­i­dent Jill Hamel said the ap­pear­ance of the bird was good for the area but she was un­sure why it had be­gun to visit more reg­u­larly. ‘‘You’d have to ask the bird.’’ It was a de­cent feed­ing ground, she said.

Dr Hamel used to walk the An­der­sons Bay area reg­u­larly and co­or­di­nated a project in 2009 to cre­ate a rocky islet for birds to roost.

Dr Hamel said the roost had im­proved the area for birds and its suc­cess had ex­ceeded her ex­pec­ta­tions.

‘‘I didn’t re­alise it would make a real dif­fer­ence . . . Na­ture al­ways brings up sur­prises.’’

White herons were not that un­com­mon. she said.

‘‘There were a lot of them at Tom­a­hawk. There were group of about seven of them about three or four years ago.’’

De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion Coastal Otago ranger Jim Fyfe was aware of a white heron which had pre­vi­ously vis­ited Tom­a­hawk Beach.

‘‘Whether this one is that one or a new one I couldn’t say.’’

The bird was rel­a­tively rare in New Zealand although it is com­mon in Aus­tralia, the South Pa­cific and Asia.

A sin­gle breed­ing colony ex­ists in New Zealand at Okar­ito La­goon near Whataroa in Westland. There are about 100 to 120 of the birds in New Zealand, ac­cord­ing to De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion statis­tics.

Mr Fyfe said the birds typ­i­cally fos­sicked around the edges of in­lets and estuaries look­ing for food.

PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

This white heron has been mov­ing around wa­ter­ways in Dunedin for the past cou­ple of weeks. It can reg­u­larly be found at low tide feed­ing in the An­der­sons Bay In­let.

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