Rare duck numbers rise

20:12, Mar 20 2014

New Zealand's rarest duck, the pateke or brown teal, is enjoying a population boom in Northland, with bird numbers at their highest since surveys began in 1988.

A recent count found 793 pateke in the region, up from 616 in 2013 and 104 in 2001. There are an estimated 2000-2500 of the birds remaining in the wild.

Department of Conservation pateke ranger Thalia Sachtleben put the increase down to intensive predator control by landowners and community groups in and around core pateke areas.

“Farmers who put in ponds and wetlands and plant the margins with native vegetation are creating extra habitat that also benefits pateke,” Sachtleben said.

Public awareness of pateke had also increased, with people driving more carefully at night in core pateke areas and not letting their dogs wander.

“It's wonderful news for our rarest duck and shows how working in partnership can achieve tangible conservation outcomes - something DOC is keen to grow,” Sachtleben said.

The nocturnal pateke stands out from other ducks through their small size and distinctive white ring around their eyes.