25 Feb 2010

Protection sought for vineyard falcons

12:49 pm on 25 February 2010

A Marlborough vineyard owner is encouraging land holders in the region to insulate their power transformers to protect a native falcon that some grape growers are now using to help with pest control.

The Falcon Conservation Trust has been running a project to establish the birds on vineyards to scare off introduced pest birds that feed on grapes.

But general manager, Colin Wynn, says about a fifth of those bred for release on Marlborough vineyards have been electrocuted.

This has forced the trust to stop any further releases in the Wairau Valley, where most of the birds have been killed.

Mr Wynn says the Marlborough Lines company is prepared to insulate the transformers, but only if landowners pay the cost of each installation.

The owner of Yealands Estate in the Awatere valley, Peter Yealands, says he's asked the line company to cover seven transformers on his property, to protect a pair of young falcons that have taken up residence on the vineyard.

Mr Yealands thinks there's general support among vineyards for the falcon programme.