September 07, 2017

Rare bird sighting at our Maungaturoto site

Fonterra's Maungaturoto manufacturing site in Northland, New Zealand has recently become home to a rare Australasian Bittern.

The Australasian Bittern, or Matuku as they are known, is a large, heron sized bird. They are rarely sighted because of their secretive behaviour and camouflage technique and are usually most active at dawn, dusk and through the night.

Long serving utilities operator at the site Gary Sosich said he had seen the rare bird while doing routine checks on the site’s stormwater diversion system. He then realised that there was two of them, indicating that there may be a breeding pair living in the wetland. Maungaturoto Environmental Manager Steve Gale says, "It’s positive to see our stormwater treatment wetland is supporting biodiversity. It’s a credit to the stormwater management system we have in place."

"The bittern population in New Zealand used to be abundant, but there is now thought to be less than 1,000 left due to habitat loss. It’s encouraging to see that our constructed wetland is a comfortable home for them and somewhere that they feel safe." The bird is an indicator of wetland health, due to their dependence on the presence of high quality and ecologically diverse habitats with a rich food supply.