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Bittern Find Excites Bird World

A globally endangered bird has been seen at Travis Wetland and has thrilled Christchurch ornithologists.

The bird is the Australasian brown bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus) and the Christchurch City Council's bird consultant, Andrew Crossland, says he saw the bittern at Travis Wetland last weekend. He says it appeared just a year after the Wetland area was created. "The area has done the almost impossible and attracted a bittern. And there may be more," he says. Mr Crossland says the bittern, a large brown heron-like bird about the size of a turkey, used to be common in Christchurch swamps but is now classed as a globally endangered species and is the rarest of the 50-odd wetland birds species that regularly occur in the city. Earlier that day Mr Crossland saw a brown bittern at a Coutts Island swamp area. Mr Crossland also came across a new species in the Travis Wetland on Monday 5 June. This was a black-fronted tern. He says it is an endemic South Island species that nests inland (mainly on braided rivers) and winters on the coast. The tern was one of the species expected to arrive at the newly developed Travis Wetland. The Australian glossy ibis is also back at the wetland for its second winter, Mr Crossland says. He says it is likely to have migrated to Australia for the spring and summer and then returned here. There are usually only 10-20 in the whole country "so its encore appearance should be seen as indicative of how attractive Travis Wetland has become for wetland birds," Mr Crossland says.

Further information: John Skilton, City Council ranger, 382 9527 or Kay Holder, 025 201 5657. Andrew Crossland, 351 6103 (after 5pm) will not appear on television.


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