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Published: 2009-10-21 00:00:00

Tui sightings in and around Hamilton have soared over the past month.

Last month, Environment Waikato reported there had been about 70 sightings between 18 July and 18 September.

Since then the number of sightings reported to EW has climbed to more than 260, said biosecurity officer Ben Paris.

That compares to about 40 sightings reported in all of 2008.

"Obviously recent publicity about tui will be encouraging more people to report sightings, but it seems clear there are definitely more of the birds about this year.

"That’s an encouraging sign that our Hamilton Halo project to control possums and rats at tui breeding sites around Hamilton is having a solid impact on the number of birds visiting the city and nearby."

The Halo project is aimed at controlling possums and rats ahead of the tui breeding season from October to January. It has finished its active pest control work for 2009. The cost of Halo operations was $93,835.

This calendar year, six sites around Hamilton were treated. – two were at Old Mountain Rd near Whatawhata, while the others were at Te Miro Reserve, Maungakawa Reserve, Tirohanga Rd near Maungatautari and the Pukemokemoke Bush Reserve.

A total of 1024 hectares were treated using 1957 bait stations with a variety of toxins including brodificoum, cholecalciferol, diphacinone and 1080.

Mr Paris said public comments in sighting reports showed how much people appreciated the presence of the tui. Comments included:

· "[It] made my day hearing a tui singing from our house."

· "Musical! Seen daily over last month. First time seen in 36 years!"

· "No doubt with what I saw, definitely a tui sighting. Am absolutely rapt!"

Visit www.ew.govt.nz/hamiltonhalo for more information.

The Hamilton Halo project will resume its pest control work next year ahead of the 2010 breeding season.