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North Island Robin Returns to Te Mata Park

North Island Robin Returns to Te Mata Park

A sighting of a North Island Robin in Te Mata Park, Havelock North, by Te Mata Trust member and volunteer, Mike Lusk has excited the Trust and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council as it’s thought that this bird species has been absent from the area for decades.

HBRC has worked with Te Mata Park Trust on predator control in the park, and the sighting is a strong indicator that the control is working.

“It’s a very exciting sighting and heralds the fact that more native birds are returning through good habitat management,” says Bruno Chambers from the Te Mata Trust Board.

“The Park Board would like to think there will be more birds making themselves at home in the park. We’ve ensured there is a good mix of exotic and native plantings for food and habitat. And a large factor is the predator control in the park - we know the big reduction in possums over the past few years has made a huge difference.”

It is thought that the robin may have travelled up the Maraetotara from Cape Sanctuary. The area between the Sanctuary and the park has been under possum control by farmers and landowners since 2003 providing a safer corridor for birds to travel.

Thirty-six North Island Robin transferred to Cape Sanctuary in May 2007 and another nine in August 2008. All the birds came from Maungataniwha Pine Forest owned by Simon Hall. Although the robins were released into the native block, they have preferred to establish territories in the adjacent pine forest within the sanctuary where there’s good invertebrate life for feeding. Pairs are also known to have established outside the sanctuary.

“The birds started breeding in their first season and if the bird seen in Te Mata Park is unbanded, it’s likely to be the off-spring of that first Cape Sanctuary introduction,” said Tamsin Ward-Smith of Cape Sanctuary.

Mike Lusk saw the robin in the park earlier this month and then possibly the same bird again two weeks later.

“It’s a pleasing outcome of the possum control programme HBRC and the Trust have been running over the past 10 year as part of the rural pest control area (PCA) programme, and the support we’ve given to the Trust with their biodiversity protection activities,” said Campbell Leckie, HBRC Land Services Manager.

More recently an urban possum control programme has been rolled out through nearby Havelock North, and many homeowners continue to maintain bait stations on their property, further adding to the safety for birds.

This year a new project called ‘Cape to City’ is being trialled by HBRC and landowners with the aim of using the possum control areas to also target other animal pests.


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