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Pāmu is smitten with the Bittern

02 November 2023

After the rare bird photobombed one of the pest control cameras, Pāmu is backing the endangered matuku-hūrepo (Australasian bittern) for Forest & Bird's Bird of the Century.

Once bittern, twice shy... right?! Ordinarily elusive bitterns camouflage into muddy surroundings with their brown-grey plumage, and when coupled with their distinctive "freezing" beak-vertical still pose, it's no wonder most people have never seen one! However, Pāmu Environment Manager Gordon Williams reports that one not-so-camera-shy bittern was caught checking out the camera at one of the predator control sites just below the farm manager’s house at Ōmāmari Farm in Dargaville. “We have cameras in most farms with predator control now to see if we’re missing trap-shy predators. Seeing evidence of healthy endangered birds like this one is a real bonus."

Matuku-hūrepo (Australasian bittern) photobombing Omamari Farm pest control cameras

Bitterns have a threatened status of ‘nationally critical’, the last step before becoming extinct. Numbers nationwide are now dropping to well below 1,000 in Aotearoa and an ongoing 50-70% decline is predicted, although nobody knows the actual number remaining. Their decline is primarily due to the destruction of their wetland habitat and introduced predators eating young birds and eggs. The pest trapping and cameras on Ōmāmari are part of a Pāmu partnership with the Kiwi Coast Northland project. Gordon says, "It suggests that all our work on our farms on both predator control and improvement of habitats is giving our native fauna a place to live.” Pāmu partners with environmental and catchment groups in other parts of the country. Another bittern was spotted at Rangiputa Farm in Kaitaia earlier this year.

Voting is now open! Pāmu is encouraging everyone to cast their votes for the secretive and seldom-seen manu in this year's favourite election here: