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Published: 2012-07-03 00:00:00

Hamilton residents are being encouraged to keep reporting sightings of tui and bellbirds as the Hamilton Halo project enters its fifth year.

For tui, Halo involves pest control at selected breeding sites around Hamilton to help improve the chances of nesting success and of tui being becoming more established in the city again. It’s also expected other urban areas, such as Cambridge, will benefit.

“In winter adult tui traditionally visit Hamilton from their breeding sites outside the city to feed, so sightings between May and August help us gauge how big an effect Halo is having on the tui population,” said council Halo spokesperson Cr Paula Southgate.

“By reporting sightings, the public can be the project’s eyes and ears. We’ll pass the sightings information on to our Halo partner Landcare Research for assessment.”

The council was aware that as people became used to tui in Hamilton they may not be so motivated to report them. In fact, the number of reported sightings has dropped off recently, just as the amount of anecdotal feedback to the council suggests there are many more tui in the city.

“We recognise that tui appear to be much more commonplace around Hamilton and that this may mean people are less inclined to report them. But we strongly encourage people to keep letting us know what they’re seeing to help us assess how the tui are doing,” said Cr Southgate.

Tui sightings can be reported online at www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/tuisighting.

Another aspect of the Halo project is trying to get bellbirds re-established in the city. Two years ago about 50 were released in Hamilton Gardens. Of those, 14 were fitted with very small radio transmitters. The birds were tracked and monitored while the transmitters operated. The birds were tracked in and around Hamilton many times. But subsequent public sightings of bellbirds have been rare. This is not unexpected as bellbirds are less noticeable than tui and were fewer in number to begin with.

“However, we still hope that some have stayed or that there are other bellbirds which might be established in Hamilton. So, again, we’d strongly encourage people to report any bellbird sightings,” said Cr Southgate.

A bellbird survey will be done by Landcare Research in Hamilton as part of the Halo project in September or October. This is expected to provide very useful baseline data on bellbird numbers.

The webpage to report bellbird sightings is www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/bellbirdsighting.