Rifleman sighting along Wellington’s west coast marks milestone in pest control

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New Zealand’s smallest native bird, the rifleman, has been spotted in Plimmerton, twice.

Weighing in at a whopping six grams, these palm-sized birds haven’t been spotted west of the Hutt Valley since 1925 – marking a milestone in pest control efforts.

One of the sightings was by Pest Free Plimmerton co-founder, Linda Kerkmeester, who spotted a flock of six riflemen at her place near Karehana Reserve.

“They nest really close to the ground so they don’t stand a chance with cats,” Kerkmeester said. “The birds are a litmus test for how successful our pest control is. Things are going well if we’re seeing these birds.”

The last reported sighting of riflemen west of the Hutt Valley was in 1925, when they were seen in Lower Hutt.

North Island riflemen survive in isolated populations on North Island mountain ranges, with only three populations north of Kaimai Forest Park, according to New Zealand Birds Online.

However multiple sightings have been reported in Wellington’s eastern parts over the last several years, including Eastbourne and in the Rimutaka ranges. They’ve been reported east of Paekakariki in Akatawara Forest in recent times, and on Kapiti Island.

shared via: www.stuff.co.nz/environment/85967823/rifleman-sighting-along-wellingtons-west-coast-marks-milestone-in-pest-control
article: Rachel Thomas
photo: Jordan Kappely

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