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Archive for the ‘Christchurch’ Category

Tuesday, 8 November 2011, 10:52 am
Press Release: Department of Conservation

First wild kakī chick to hatch this season raises hope

The first wild kakī/black stilt chick has emerged from its shell and raises hope after a disappointing start to the 2011 breeding season.

“With the hatching of this wild chick it is now starting to feel like the breeding season is underway. It has been a very late start. The first wild eggs would normally be hatching in October,” explained Liz Brown, DOC Aviculturist.

“We are also down on the number of eggs we are incubating this year at our Captive Breeding Centre in Twizel. We have 30 eggs currently incubating compared with a consistent tally of around 60 eggs over previous seasons,” states Liz.

“The captive birds have been laying later than normal both in Twizel and at Isaacs Wildlife Trust in Christchurch.”

A decline in nesting behaviour seems to be a general trend amongst all braided river birds this year. The region experienced snow in mid October which caused desertion of some nests. This was then followed by floods shortly after which delays re-nesting.

Every spring, native river birds flock to braided rivers to breed.

“From early September until late January those out enjoying braided rivers are asked to be considerate of our fragile nesting birds,” says Liz.

“They nest on the ground and can be very hard to see, especially from a 4WD vehicle. It is better for the birds welfare if you walk to your favourite angling spot rather than drive.”

“Birds that are swooping, circling or calling loudly probably have nests nearby. Move away so that they can return to their nests and look after their chicks.”

The wild egg was collected by Department of Conservation rangers from a pair of adult kakī nesting on braided river gravels. It has taken 25 days to hatch. More eggs collected from the wild are expected to hatch within a few days.

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Background information

Kakī/Black Stilts are one of the rarest waders in the world. Threat classification is nationally critical.

Kakī were once common throughout New Zealand, now mostly found in Mackenzie/Waitaki basins

Other riverbed birds migrate in winter, kakī will stay in the braided rivers of Canterbury/North Otago high country and forage for food

Main threat to the population is predation by feral cats, stoats, weasels and ferrets. Hedgehogs will eat eggs.

Wild population was reduced to only 23 birds in 1981. In August 2011 the wild population was approx 170 birds.

Six adult breeding pairs are held in captivity. Four pairs are held in Twizel at the Captive Breeding Centre. Two pairs are held in Christchurch at the Isaacs Wildlife Trust.

http://www.doc.govt.nz/kaki

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Desperately cold wild fantails have made a nest of a South Canterbury home as the polar storm sweeping the country takes a huge toll on our birdlife.

Experts expect millions of birds to die as a result of the polar blast covering the country.

For Doug Sail in Hunter, 40 kilometres south of Timaru, the warmth of his dryer drew in three frozen fantails and he unwittingly saved their lives.

“I noticed them flying around the back door trying to get in. Occasionally they tried to fly in through the window and hit the glass.

“I needed to let the room air out and when I left the door open, all of a sudden there they were – three of them.”

He said the chilly birds made themselves quite at home and remained for about five hours.

“You couldn’t shoo them out, they wouldn’t go out through the open door.”

They were so determined to stay that when he shut the door to get them out, the birds simply found another way in.

“They flew in through the open toilet window. Then, thinking they were just cold, we decided to leave them”

As the creatures huddled together for warmth, Doug and his wife Emily Gilbert took photos and videos.

“It’s something I’ve never seen before. I was surprised at how tame they were.

“When my wife was taking a video clip of them, one of them landed on her camera while she was filming.”

Video and Full story on stuff.co.nz

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Our already silent forests are dying.

Scientists have proved for the first time the alarming rates of decline in regeneration of native tree species that rely on kereru, or native pigeons, to disperse seeds.

In two forests, they have found regeneration has fallen by up to 84 per cent over two years. However, they fear the problem could be far worse in other areas in which bird populations are much lower.

Canterbury university plant ecology professor Dave Kelly said researchers were taken aback by their findings. “It was a surprise for us how big the effect was and how long it was lasting for.”

At one extreme, the researchers said regeneration of trees could fail completely, leaving forests full of dying adult trees and eventually lead to the collapse of mature forests.

Dr Kelly, with Landcare Research ecologist Debra Wotton, studied native taraire and karaka trees in two forests less than 100 hectares in size.

Taraire rely exclusively, and karaka almost exclusively, on kereru to disperse their fruit, which are too big for other smaller birds to eat.

Although it was already believed that falling populations of kereru were having an impact on seed dispersal, it was the first time the link has been proved and assessed.

Full story on Stuff.co.nz

Photograph by Jim Stevens

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Photo: Jan van de Kam Griendtsveen

Photo: Jan van de Kam Griendtsveen

About 40 Bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica) arrived on the Avon-Heathcote Estuary yesterday afternoon, to be followed today and over the next few weeks by up to 2000 more. These join a flock of about 190 juvenile birds that had stayed on the estuary over winter.

Christchurch City Council ranger Andrew Crossland confirmed 40 godwits at the estuary this morning. “More are likely to arrive today, with ongoing arrivals through the rest of September and into October,” says Crossland. The ChristChurch Cathedral bells will be rung at midday tomorrow (Wednesday 16 September) to welcome the birds to their wintering home.

full media realease on Scoop:

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A new study shows that New Zealand’s giant – and now extinct – Haast’s eagle ruled the skies until 500 years ago, swooping down on moa.

Scientists have known about the existence of Haast’s eagle since 1871 based on excavated bones, including bones carved by early Maori, but their behaviour was not entirely clear.

Because of their large size – they weighed up to 18kg with wingspans up to 3m – some scientists believed they were scavengers rather than predators.

Earlier research has indicated the eagle had enough strength in its talons to kill a moa weighing 180kg, attacking at up to 80kph, or even to attack a human child.

The latest study throwing new light on this was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Researchers Dr Paul Scofield, curator of vertebrates at the Canterbury Museum, and Professor Ken Ashwell of the University of New South Wales used computerised CT and CAT scans to reconstruct the size of the brain, eyes, ears and spinal cord of the Haast’s eagle.

These details were compared to values from modern predatory and scavenging birds to determine the habits of the extinct eagle.

“This work is a great example of how rapidly evolving medical techniques and equipment can be used to solve ancient mysteries,” said Dr Ashwell.

full story

video of Dr Paul Scofield talking about the birds of Christchurch

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TV3 > News > Weather/Environment News > Story > Iconic weta being relocated into central Christchurch

They are not the prettiest in the insect kingdom but weta are an iconic New Zealand species – and they are going places.

Tree weta are being collected on Banks Pensinsula as part of a project to move them back into the city.

Eleven weta are city-bound – being relocated in portable wooden houses to Riccarton Bush, a six hectare block of kahikatea floodplain forest, surrounded by a predator-proof fence in the heart of Christchurch.

John Moore: ”This is the first translocation we’ve had into the bush, this is the first time we’ve reintroduced something back in here, and it is quite exciting for us.”

Researchers say the urban bush will form a natural laboratory and they have plans to add to the eco-system.

“We’re beginning with invertebrates, we’re going to monitor their welfare over the next few years and then move on to the next stage – which is probably to introduce lizards and eventually birds back into the forest.”

full story

link to video

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Click here for the tv3 video

In 1924 a north Canterbury farmer discovered a new species of fish – not an amazing feat in itself, except this fish doesn’t need water to survive

Today, the town of Oxford made the critically endangered fish a local hero in an effort to save it.
The endangered Canterbury mudfish are so hardy they can exist by burrowing into mud and breathing through their skin.
Although they have been in the area for thousands of years their future is under threat.
That is why the town of oxford is trying to raise the fish’s profile.

Maori have long known about the fish but it was local farmer Alfred Burrows who discovered their unique properties.
In 1924 he was digging a well when he noticed several small fish in the paddock around him.
Alfred Burrows knew you do not normally find fish living in paddocks so he sent a live specimen to the Dominion Museum where it was found to be an entirely new species.

Unfortunately by then the Canterbury plains had changed from lush wetland to productive farmland.
Because so much of their habitat is gone they’re classified as ‘nationally endangered’.
In fact, it is the country’s second most threatened fish.

So the area’s supporting the creature online – the fish has its own website – mudfish.org.nz.
And everyone here hopes the extra attention will help out these lesser known locals.

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