A giant wedge-tailed eagle has reportedly been blown off course from Australia and taken up residence on a coast west of Auckland.
Biodiversity officer Ben Paris posted a plea for further sightings online this week on a website for bird enthusiasts. He said the massive bird had been seen multiple times around Bethells Beach.
"There have been four separate sightings by three people; the observer, her son and the neighbour," Paris wrote on birdingnz.net. "The first time was at night when the eagle was spotted eyeing up the goats, with a whole tree bent over with the weight of the bird. It really gave them a fright. These sightings have been over a period of a month, with the last sighting about a week ago. It has been seen flying towards Bethells Beach. The neighbour saw it during the day twice and said it looked like a giant owl with an 'owly face'. They all described the large separated feathers along its wings."
Paris was on leave late this week and unavailable for further comment.
Despite of the reported sightings, many ornithological experts were sceptical - including Adrian Riegen. "Lots of eagles travel using thermals and it is impossible to do that over water."
Mel Galbraith from the New Zealand Ornithological Society also told the Herald on Sunday the society would be very keen on substantive evidence.
"All we want to know is that the report is accurate."
Galbraith said the prospect of any new species entering the country raises questions of disease and any effect on the native wildlife and birds.
"Any species coming in could be carrying disease, though I suspect there won't be a problem as alien diseases do not jump between families of animals," he said. "It's naturally an open country bird. It could prey on some poultry, pheasants and perhaps native birds.
"As an individual its effect is going to be very minimal, unless more come and start to breed."