The Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), or matuku as it is known to Maori, is a large, heron-sized bird. It inhabits wetlands throughout New Zealand, but is rarely seen because of its secretive behaviour and excellent camouflage. It is most active at dawn, dusk and through the night. Matuku has declined dramatically since humans began draining wetlands and is now classed globally as endangered. We were delighted to see a bittern take flight out of our wetland today. We would love to see this bird close up but this one seem very shy. There is reported to be a small group of these birds at a private wetland near the Wairau Bar, Marlborough and a siting at the Marlborough District Council wetland nearby. Peter Langlands is doing a survey of bitterns in New Zealand. We are looking forward to undertaking a local survey of the lower Wairau area over the spring when they are giving there mating call or ‘boom’. Peter can supply a recording of this call, to attract the call of hiding birds.
You can read more about this beautiful bird on New Zealand Birds online