Have you seen this bird? A weka has reportedly been seen in an Orewa bush reserve.
Local conservationists are intrigued and bemused by recent reported sightings of a weka in Alice Eave’s Scenic Reserve in Orewa.
The flightless North Island weka is long since extinct on the Auckland mainland, with the closest population being on Kawau Island, making it highly unlikely that one is living in the reserve. However, locals are convinced that’s what they’ve seen.
Three sightings and a weka call were reported to Hibiscus Coast Forest & Bird’s Philip Wrigley. Philip says although the people concerned are not bird experts, they are very definite about what they have seen and heard.
Orewa Lions member Laurie Rands, who is part of a voluntary group that maintains the bush reserve, says she’s also had several people report sightings. She says the weka-spotters are people who frequent the bush and know their birds.
Weka are sturdy brown birds, about the size of a chicken. Philip says there are ground dwelling birds that could be taken for weka, such as banded rail and hen pheasant, in the bush.
He says if weka were introduced surreptitiously or offically from Kawau, the reserve would need a different management regime to make them safe, as there are dogs and potentially cats present. As scavengers and omnivores, weka could also eat dead rats that have taken poison from a bait station.
As the sightings are unconfirmed at present, this could be the Coast’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster or the Yeti! DOC senior ranger Thelma Wilson says it’s highly unlikely there’s a weka there. She says if anyone can get a photo of the bird, it would help with correct identification.