The falcons of Albert Town have returned to book their maternity suite at the local camping ground well ahead of the holiday season.
The two birds, native to New Zealand, became high-profile residents of the Albert Town Recreation Reserve last year when they nested in a fallen log near the Hawea River swing bridge and hatched a pair of chicks.
Before Christmas, they maintained a lookout in nearby pine trees and dive-bombed visitors to protect their young, prompting warnings for people to wear helmets and steer well clear of the site.
The situation prompted a group of people headed by Maungawera vet nurse and falcon advocate Mary Chaffey, Forest and Bird volunteers and Albert Town campground lessees Rudi Sanders and Aggie Hofsteenge to fence off an area around the nest.
Information signs were also erected, and until their first flight in the New Year, the chicks and their parents became media stars, attracting national coverage including by TV film crews.
This week Ms Chaffey told The News the parent birds had definitely returned to their tree-top lookout “in the highest pine trees in the area” and appeared to be preparing to nest in the same log again “or very close to it”.
“It is really exciting. We had an inkling a couple of weeks ago it could be happening, so we have put up an ‘inner fence’ around the area to ensure they are not disturbed.
“They do not seem as rarked up as last year and I don’t think anyone has been swooped or bombarded; we hope that remains the case.”
Ultimately she would like to see a webcam installed next to the nest so people around the country would be able to see what was going on.
“Either that or we would like to get funding for a hide so people, although they would need binoculars, would still be able to get a good look into the nest.”
Ms Chaffey said the falcons appeared to be more aggressive towards dogs and cyclists who came too close to their protected area.
“We are really grateful to Rudi and Aggie for their support. They are the guardians looking after the falcons. The fact they [the birds] have returned is cause for cheer in the community.”