Ambitious plan to return native seabirds to Farewell Spit

An ambitious plan to return native seabirds to Farewell Spit in Tasman is a step closer to reality.

Fifty-six fluttering shearwater birds have been relocated from the Marlborough Sounds in the hope of eventually establishing a colony.

HealthPost Nature Trust chairman Peter Butler says the goal is to return the area to how it used to be.

"The cliffs going from right where we are here from Wharariki Beach, right to Farewell Spit and years gone by they would have been teaming with seabirds. Tens of thousands, if not millions.

"So we see our little ecosanctuary as being a little nursery for that to happen again."

It was a big day for the birds which were transported via boat, then plane and then car. They were checked at each step and hydrated on arrival.

It's the second relocation for the trust, with much of the leg work done by volunteers.

Esther Remnant said after a week or so the birds got used to being held for feeding.

"They got to the stage where they actually put their feet onto your fingers without you even prompting them. Like yeah, they were ready for you and they wanted to be fed."

Raelene Mason says she loves helping out, especially in such a beautiful place.

"It's so special to bring back these animals and these birds back into Golden Bay that have been taken out through predators."

The chicks will remain at the Wharariki Ecosanctuary for a few weeks before they're released. It's hoped they'll return in three or four years and create a colony.

The Naturepost Health Trust is hoping to introduce other birds to the area too.

"We're not exactly practicing on the fluttering but we're earning our colours," Butler said. "Because we've got to prove we can do this successfully."


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