A 17-year-old in Tākaka is ruffling feathers in the conservation community because of his talent for ornithology, or bird-spotting — he's already considered something of a national expert.
Bradley Shields has a gift. He has already identified 152 native birds in the wild, but his recent find was particularly special.
The spotless crake, or pūweto, is a highly secretive bird and almost never caught on camera. But Bradley managed to do what no one has ever done before — prove that it has a home in Abel Tasman National Park.
“I was able to eventually see it just down here in the mud, pretty cool find,” Bradley told Seven Sharp’s Julian Lee at the spot where he pictured the bird.
Project Janszoon has been helping restore an area of Abel Tasman National Park to native bush.
The project is so impressed by Bradley's natural talents they've made him an ambassador for the park.
“Really amazing photographer, very knowledgeable about birds and the wildlife and conservation issues in New Zealand," project director Bruce Vander Lee says.
Vander Lee was also amazed at the keen teen birdwatcher’s ability to capture a spotless crake on camera.
"You don't just go out and find a spotless crake. You look for evidence, do your research and then spend time to go do it and that's what he's done in this case."
According to the Department of Conservation, the spotless crake population has declined dramatically since humans began draining wetlands and are now classed as at risk.
DOC says the bird is “very secretive and relatively infrequently seen”.
Their nature means it’s unclear how many of the birds are left in New Zealand.