As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday 31 August 2018

Rare and secretive bird spotted posing as a log in suburban Te Atatū, Auckland

Endangered bird caught on camera in West Auckland
Community Waitakere
The rare and endangered Australasian Bittern/Matuku has been filmed by a remote camera placed by Community Waitakere in Te Atatu Peninsula, West Auckland.
What looked like a log in a suburban Auckland wetland has turned out to be one of New Zealand's rarest and most endangered birds.
An infrared camera set up for two days last week at the Orangihina Wetlands in Te Atatū in West Auckland captured footage of the matuku, also known as the Australasian bittern, wandering through the wetland.
Ecologist Dion Pou from Community Waitakere said he reviewed footage on the camera on the car ride back from the wetland thinking something had gone wrong with his motion-sensitive camera.
"At first I couldn't understand why this log had somehow gotten into the middle of the frame."
Matuku are secretive, rarely seen in pairs, shy away from other animals and are almost never seen near cities, Pou said.
When the Matuku tilts its head upwards it can look like a piece of dead wood.
Its trademark gesture involves the bird tilting its head to the sky exposing the markings on its neck making it look like a piece of dead wood to onlookers.
Over the last 50 years the matuku population has been in steep decline.
The bird is large, the size of a small white-faced heron, but requires wetlands with clean water to survive.
There are fewer than 1000 matuku left in New Zealand and a similar number in Australia along with around 50 in New Caledonia. 
Pou said those numbers made the matuku "as endangered as it gets" on a global scale.
Michael Coote from Forest and Bird said the discovery of the bird in suburban Auckland was a testament to its survival skills. 
In that environment the bird would face threats from off-leash dogs, cats, stoats and rats interested in its eggs.

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