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Published: 2011-09-09 00:00:00

Hamiltonians with their eyes on the sky are being urged to get snapping and submit their best photo of a tui or bellbird by the end of this month.

The second annual Hamilton Halo photo competition is open to both adults and children to encourage residents to keep an eye out for tui and bellbirds in the city and report them to Waikato Regional Council so they can be mapped.

This year’s competition is being supported by the Waikato Times, with long time staff photographer Peter Drury joining the judging panel.

Natural heritage programme manager Kevin Collins said Hamilton’s residents had been very busy over winter reporting dozens of tui sightings in and around the city.

There have also been several reports of bellbirds in the city, a reassuring sign that those released in the Hamilton Gardens in 2010 may be starting to make their home here.

“We’re receiving reports almost every day of the week from people who are either hearing or seeing tui in their gardens or in public spaces, like parks and golf courses. Even kereru, the native wood pigeon, has been seen in one of our gullies.

“It’s so exciting that our neighbourhoods are filling with the sounds of these unique New Zealand birds and we want people to get out with their cameras and share their images of these species,” Mr Collins said.

The photo competition closes on Friday, 30 September 2011 and entries should be sent to halo@waikatoregion.govt.nz with details of who took the photo and where. The photos should be taken within a 20km radius of Hamilton.

The two winners of the child category will each receive a soft tui toy and the two adult winners will each win a family pass to ‘Eco Tour: Kiwi Watch’ courtesy of Otorohanga Kiwi House.

For more information on how to identify tui and bellbirds, as well as on the competition, go to www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/hamiltonhalo or www.facebook.com/hamiltonhalo.

The Hamilton Halo project is controlling pests such as rats and possums at various tui breeding sites within a 20 kilometre radius of the city. These pests feed on eggs and young birds in the nest.

The aim of the Halo pest control is to lift the numbers of tui and bellbirds visiting Hamilton so they will ultimately start nesting within the city.

Residents can get involved in the Hamilton Halo project by planting tui and bellbird food sources and undertaking pest control on their properties.

A gardener’s guide has been developed to assist residents in selecting plants that are good food sources for native birds. Copies of the gardener’s guide are available by visiting www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/hamiltonhalo or by phoning 0800 800 401.

Many of Hamilton’s nurseries are also supporting Hamilton Halo by promoting tui and bellbird food sources to their customers.