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Weka explores city garden

MATT LAWREY
Last updated 14:41 03/05/2012
Jennie McGuinness
MATT LAWREY/FAIRFAX MEDIA
WANDERING WEKA: Bronte St resident Jennie McGuinness with a photo she took of the bird she found exploring her property.

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Trapping by the group Birdlife on the Grampians is making life easier for native birds with the area's weka making a comeback and at least one bird going exploring.

Bronte St resident Jennie McGuinness got a welcome surprise recently when she discovered an adult weka wandering around her garden.

The bird had apparently wandered down from the hillside, through properties at the top of Collingwood St, past several neighbourhood dogs, across Brougham St and through the McGuiness's neighbour's property to reach their place.

Jennie, who is a member of Birdlife on the Grampians (BLOG), had just returned home with her friend Helen Winwood after checking a line of traps, when they spotted the weka looking at home in the garden.

"I couldn't believe it, really. He was very purposeful. He was pecking the gravel and having a good look around," she said.

The bird was about 40 cm tall and Jennie suspects it was not its first time in her garden.
"I think he may have visited a few days before because the pea straw around the compost was scattered all over the grass," she said.

The bird, or one that looked just like it, was also spotted later in the day in the top part of Richmond Avenue.
Jennie said it was "pretty exciting" to think weka were breeding on the Grampians.

A founding member of BLOG, Jennie looks after a 16-trap line with Helen and Henrietta Hannah. The trio check their rat and mice traps regularly and say that lately their kill rate has dropped to about one a week.

Jennie has lived in Bronte St for more than 20 years and said there is now more native birdlife than when she moved to the area.

"It's pretty exciting. We get a lot of wood pigeons and tui through here," she said.

Jennie is concerned, however, at the threat dogs present to weka on the Grampians. The area is officially one that people can exercise dogs off-leash but Jennie fears many dog owners do not know the birds are living there or how vulnerable they are to canines' teeth.

She is urging dog owners to keep pets under control.

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