Last huia sighting to make the news?

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Last huia sighting to make the news?

Postby SomesBirder » Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:46 pm

When I got my 1955 edition of W. R. B. Oliver's New Zealand Birds, the previous owner left a newspaper clipping in it. The clipping is from June 24th, 1989, and is titled, "DOC to check Huia sighting, 11 years later". The said sighting was of a female huia at Tangarakau Gorge in September 1978. Would this be the last unconfirmed huia sighting to ever be published in a newspaper?

what in god's name is a folly tomo
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Re: Last huia sighting to make the news?

Postby tinowaka » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:45 pm

I have a story I wish to relay.

Back in the mid 1980s, Easter 1984 I think, I was hunting in the Tararua's with a mate, in behind Shannon. We set off early one morning from our camp walking beside a stream through the bush, when a bird flew toward us at about a metre off the ground. It few in an odd manner - more like a bat than a bird - from side to side. It also had an unusual song - it sounded like a bosun's whistle. It landed in a dead spar slightly uphill of us. I looked through my rifle scope at it. It was a bright overcast day so the bird was in silhouette. It was difficult to make out its size but looked about the size of a tui, maybe bigger. However, what I could make out was that it was blackish and there were two yellowish wattles on its face. I had spent a lot of time in the bush in the Tararua's hunting possums since before I was 15 years old and hadn't seen or heard a bird like this before.

When I got home I looked up my NZ birds book. The only bird that could match it with was the male huia. I didn't notice any white tipped tail feathers when I was looking, but the bright background would not have helped, and I didn't have any idea of what I was looking at, at the time. I'm not sure why I didn't tell anyone in authority about the time. Partly it was due to the difficulty in working out who to tell - this was pre DoC days. I didn't have a hunting permit either which also didn't help. I was young, in my early twenties.

This evening I was watching a programme on Maori TV, Artifacts, with the episode being on the huia. They had an old recording of someone mimicking a huia. In the past I have thought about that moment and convinced myself that it probably was just a tui. But when I heard the recording on the TV it sounded like a bosun's whistle just like my bird.

Anyway that's my recollection. I always thought I'd go back and have a look, but I haven't got around to it and probably won't. The country is pretty rugged and I'm not getting any younger. I could pretty much pinpoint the spot on a map if anyone is interested.
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Re: Last huia sighting to make the news?

Postby CMKMStephens » Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:13 pm

Have a listen to this: ... D.mp3?dl=0

How does it compare?

While there is a famous and regularly played Huia imitation, a couple of years ago I helped Auckland War Memorial Museum with putting the provenance to another Huia imitation. This one is by Archibald Bogle, who at the turn of the 20th century was a surveyor in the relevant area. Like everyone else at the time, he was busy luring Huia and killing them. He later went onto other things, eg a member of the Geographic Board.

In theory, buried in Te Papa, could be his earlier recording:

Some years ago Mr W.J.Phillips was ethnologist at the Dominion Museum, his brother had been a survey cadet with Bill Stewart and this gave him the idea to ask Stewart if he had, in the course of his bush surveys, ever seen any huia. Stewart said "no", but named me as one who had seen them, sometimes daily, for a period of months, and the upshot was an urgent invitation to visit the museum and tell Phillips what I knew concerning the birds. This was carefully recorded for the archives and was followed by a request to register the distinctive whistle of the huia on a tape recorder. At such unexpected short notice, my lips, of course, went dry, and my whistle would not have excited much envy in a real huia's breast. But, ultimately, I got a good result which, I assumed, was carefully preserved at the Dominion Museum. However, Mr Phillips did not mention the recording in his "Book of the Huia", and recent enquiries failed to discover any trace of it.; Just recently, there, I again recorded the Huia's call, this time for H.R. McKenzie and the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
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Re: Last huia sighting to make the news?

Postby Jim_j » Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:03 pm

Certainly not impossible - and probably more likely than most of the recent "sightings" of the SI Kokako.
In the 70's there was a significant beech mast (in the upper SI at least) and I kind of think that the resultant stoat/rat plague probably wiped out any remaining huia, kokako, bushwren etc - certainly pretty much knocked out yellowhead from most of the top haf of the SI.
But maybe a lone male huia that maybe fledged before then could have been around in the early 80's?

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Re: Last huia sighting to make the news?

Postby c0nz » Sun Jul 01, 2018 8:10 pm

What an amazing memory to have

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