By Paddy Stewart.
In early May up to 400 shooters retreat into the wetland to shoot ducks. After the annual autumn shooting season the wetland is mostly left to its own devices until the following summer. This quite period coincides with the bittern breeding season. Little is known about the species and the Department of Conservation is in the process of initiating close order studies to better understand its life history. Hopefully a mix of local on the ground knowledge and effort, combined with scientific endeavour can save the species from extinction. Roadkill (bittern) on the Coromandel is occasionally observed, especially about Whangapoua and Hot Water Beach. Every individual counts as it is thought less than 1000 of these birds remain in New Zealand. Rural landowners can help the species by planting trees on swamp edges adjacent to roads and thus force these lumbering flyers to climb higher over traffic flows. Pond edges and even open drains are good places for young birds to forage. The breeding season runs between September and December and it is best to stay out of wetlands during this period, as birds have been observed to abandon nests when disturbed. The autonomous survey method does not detect females or provide life history data such as juvenile survivorship rates.
Stewart, P. 2017. Eastern Coromandel cryptic avifauna species inventory for wetlands of the Waikato Region. Contract report SAS2016/2017-1758 for Waikato Regional Council, Private Bag Hamilton.
Caption: Paddy Stewart in his home territory,
outdoors on the Coromandel.