Rare bird found on beach

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014
Bulwer's petrel
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

LONG WAY FROM HOME: Jackie Stevenson looking after the rescued Bulwer's petrel at her home.

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An exhausted seabird rescued from a Christchurch beach is the first of its kind to be seen alive in New Zealand.

Pam Hill was walking with a friend along North New Brighton Beach on Wednesday night when they spotted a bird lying below the tide line in the sand with its wings spread out.

"He was looking very forlorn. I could see that he had nothing broken, but we thought he just looked really, really exhausted," she said.

They scooped the bird up and drove to the home of Jackie Stevenson, of Bird Rescue Christchurch.

It was not a species Stevenson had ever seen. She called on the expertise of Canterbury Museum senior curator natural history Paul Scofield, who identified it as a Bulwer's petrel.

Scofield said it was the first live specimen recorded in New Zealand. A dead Bulwer's petrel was found on a North Island beach in 1998.

Large numbers breed in the north tropical Pacific, and on islands off southern Japan and south-east China, as well as in south tropical French Polynesia.

Scofield suspected Cyclone Ian, which ravaged Tonga recently, carried the bird here.

Stevenson will continue feeding the bird an elecotrolyte mix and tinned meat to help it gain weight.

It yesterday weighed 81 grams, but needed to be at least 95 grams to release.

She would then find a colony of seabirds to put it with so it could decide when to head out to sea.

Hill was shocked to learn they had potentially saved a bird that had never been found alive here.

She hoped it would survive, but understood it had a 50 per cent chance of survival.

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- The Press

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