Caught in the Richmond Range
Story from information supplied by Bill Benfield. Photos by Tristan Gornall
Tristan Gornall and his friend Mark, were mountain-biking in the Richmond Range, south of Nelson, a few days before Christmas.
They returned with these photographs of a New Zealand falcon swooping down on them. The falcon clipped their helmets.
The falcon (Karearea) is an aerial predator as environmentalist Bill Benfield testifies below.
Karearea does not make aerial passes, this bird, about the same size as a magpie, is fearless. It targets the face, particularly the eyes of passers-by too close to its nest. I’ve had a first-hand account of it attacking a walker by Makarora. The Graf brothers met a man with his face covered in blood walking out of the bush.
Is the Karearea a threat?
So should the bird be on the predator-free programme? But hey it’s a native bird.
Nevertheless it is a hazard for people who stray into its territory.
My brother is aware that tourist operators near Haast, anxious to please tourists with the song of native birds, will shoot any falcon, because the place goes very quiet when they are around.
Duck and pheasant farmers, who operate wet lands for ducks will just about light up the sky with shot guns when any raptor, including falcon, are around.
So, what will happen when we finally attract the full cohort of our native birds?
What will happen when people walk too close to the nest of karearea, the falcon? Will we have to close streets – even houses?
Thinking about it, it’s just as well Haast’s eagle is long gone, or we’d have children being carried away.