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Helping hand: Whakatipu Wildlife Trust chairman David Penrose, left, and grebe expert John Darby with one of the grebe nesting platforms placed in Lake Whakatipu last week

By PHILIP CHANDLER

The first three nesting platforms in Queenstown Bay for the rare and endangered southern crested grebe were launched last week by the Whakatipu Wildlife Trust.

Chairman David Penrose says the floating wooden platforms — built by Queenstowner Hans Arnestedt with support from Mactodd and Mitre 10 Mega — will give the birds a safe  nesting option.

In the past, they’ve nested, with disastrous results, on the back of commercial boats in the Bay and on sand at the base of the lake wall.

The platforms were towed by Queenstown Paraflights this Monday to near the Horne Creek outlet.

The trust took advice from Wānaka grebe expert John Darby, whose platforms on Lake Wānaka have fledged more than 300 chicks.

Darby, who attended last Monday’s launch, says grebes will recognise the platforms as ‘‘a very safe place to nest’’.

‘‘My guess is, if this takes off you’re going to attract a lot of grebes from all over.’’

Penrose says next year they may install a webcam so people can view the nesting process.

Grebes — whose most common local habitat is Lake Hayes — are the only bird species where adults carry their chicks on their backs as they swim.

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