In a further sign that the Hamilton Halo project is proving successful, tui fledglings have reportedly been sighted in two Hamilton locations in recent weeks.
“The reports from the University of Waikato grounds and Hamilton gardens are very promising news, indicating that tui are becoming breeding residents of the city. This is a great sign for this indicator species of wider biodiversity benefits for Hamilton” said Hamilton Environment Waikato councillor Paula Southgate.
Hamilton Halo – a partnership between EW and Landcare Research - involves intensive pest control at selected breeding sites on the outskirts of Hamilton. The idea is to help increased nesting success at those sites and to encourage more tui to visit or settle in Hamilton itself.
The reported fledgling sightings follow a bird survey in August by Landcare Research which recorded adult tui at 25 of 101 bird monitoring stations in Hamilton, up from eight stations in August 2008.
A follow up survey in November found tui at only two sites, suggesting that most tui have returned to nesting forests 10 to 20 kilometres away. However, the observed fledglings - plus numerous other December tui sightings - suggest that more tui are nesting in the city than previously, despite the low counts at stations.
Cr Southgate said Hamilton Halo was encouraging people to keep actively reporting sightings of tui or their nests to the project’s website www.ew.govt.nz/hamiltonhalo or call EW’s Ben Paris on 0800 800 401. Nests can be more difficult to spot than adult birds because they are generally well hidden and adult birds don’t spend a lot of time on them.
“If people see a tui in December in Hamilton, there is a good chance these birds are nesting here. All sightings should be reported so we can get as full a picture as possible about what is happening with tui in our city,” said Cr Southgate.
Hamilton Halo was launched in 2007 and this year has involved pest control over 1600 hectares. In 2007 there were less than a dozen tui sightings reported to EW. This year there have been more than 300 sightings reported as the project continues to capture the public imagination. The public have been especially important to Hamilton Halo in terms of preparing for the return of more tui as they have been involved with tree planting through community groups and other organisations.
People interested in the project can join the Facebook fanpage at www.facebook.com/hamiltonhalo.