Titi have feeding frenzy at Oreti Beach

01:04, Feb 21 2014
Southland Times photo
Titi at Oreti Beach yesterday.

Thousands of titi (muttonbirds) chased fish along the Oreti Beach shoreline yesterday.

Invercargill resident Ben Farrell said he was running his dogs along the beach at lunchtime when he could see the birds coming closer to shore.

"They would get in a big feeding frenzy, then relax before stirring up again," he said.

Mr Farrell said large amounts of seaweed had washed on to the beach and he could see "lots and lots" of fish swimming in the shallows.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu representative Michael Skerrett said it was pleasing to see the birds had plenty of food.

"We had been concerned that there was a lot of mortality among the population, but it seems those washing ashore back in October were the Australian ones," he said.

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Mr Skerrett said usually titi fed farther out to sea, but it was not uncommon for them to chase fish ashore.

"The sea was so calm yesterday, they have come in chasing fish, sometimes fish will even jump on to the sand," he said.

According to Maori culture, it was taboo to harvest the birds seen yesterday, as they were the breeding stock, Mr Skerrett said.

"It is extremely important you preserve these birds. You do not harvest the parent birds because then you take out a whole generation."

The Southland Times