Early birds catch the warmer weather

Unseasonably balmy weather has sparked a flurry of early bird nesting activity in the Wellington region.

Water fowl at Nga Manu Nature Reserve in Waikanae have been nesting and producing ducklings about two months earlier than usual.

Reserve manager Bruce Benseman said ducklings did not normally appear till September and October.

A thrush spotted sitting on a nest in Waikanae was also a month or two early, Benseman said.

Song thrushes were territorial birds which normally bred from August to February, he said.

Zealandia Sanctuary conservation officer Matu Booth said they had noticed pre-nesting behaviour starting to ramp up with kaka and kakariki mating and "prospecting" for nest sites.

Last season they had their first kaka eggs in July which was the earliest they had ever been recorded.

"We are anticipating it might be the same early hatching this season. We are seeing pair bonding, prospecting for nests and birds delivering their territorial calls. Even as humans we can attest to the fact we seem to be in spring with no sign of winter yet," Booth said.

A cold snap could delay the nesting activity, he said.

"We are holding our breath to see what happens," he said.

Kaka had been seen mating, "but maybe they are just fooling around and having a good time".

Pairs of kaka were going in and out of nest boxes checking out their suitability, he said, and kakariki were checking out natural sites as well as nest boxes.

Mik Peryer, who runs Waikanae estuary bird walks, said some locals had been quite shocked at the aggressiveness of swans mating during the balmy weather at the scientific reserve recently.

After a brief cold snap at the beginning of this month, the mercury has been hitting 15 and 16 degrees around the region over the past week.

The Dominion Post