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Archive for the ‘south island’ 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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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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2010 – pivotal in seeking to secure world night sky reserve for New Zealand
Next year is pivotal to the success of New Zealand seeking a world heritage night sky reserve for Tekapo Aoraki-Mt Cook

A UNESCO World Heritage meeting in Brasilia in June will be crucial to New Zealand’s chances, leader of the Working party bid former Cabinet minister Margaret Austin says.

“We are launching a nationwide campaign in the lead up to the Brasilia conference next year, so we can tell the public people this project has real and exciting potential particularly in the lead up to the Brasilia conference.’’

Austin says there has been a reluctance to acknowledge that the stars and starlight are significant to human heritage under UNESCO conventions.  But there is a groundswell of public concern at the extent to which people no longer see the stars in so many parts of the world and we need a source of income to achieve our goal of world heritage and international support.

The key milestone this year was getting the Tekapo Aoraki/Mt Cook starlight reserve working party up and running so the bid could demonstrate their commitment to the project. With the backing of the Mackenzie District Council there is a belief that astro-tourism, education and awareness of the significance of the dark sky and appreciation of the cultural history for Maori can be realised in the next few years.

full media release on scoop.co.nz

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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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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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TV3 > Video – Browse All > Weather/Environment Video

The country’s newest public reserve has opened on the Catlins coast, to provide a safe haven for the endangered Yellow-eyed penguin.

The Department of Conservation has teamed up with a community trust to create a long strip of protected coastline, about two hours south of Dunedin.
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This remote area on the Catlins coast is one of the main habitats of the Yellow-eyed penguin.

And now DOC – together with the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust – have bought 50 hectares of coastal farmland, effectively creating a 12 kilometre reserve along the Southern Ocean.

New Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick planted a Rata tree to celebrate the occasion.

It is expected to be the first of many planted here as part of a reforestation project, to help the penguins feel more at home.

“Until we put vegetation around these sorts of coastal margins that encourages them to come in and breed, we’re at peril of losing more and more of them,” Chadwick says.

This 12 kilometre stretch of coastline is home to around 50 breeding pairs, that’s 10percent of the Yellow-eyed penguin population in the South Island.

The penguins have coped relatively well in the isolated area, but plans to add fences and undertake predator control work will help improve their chances or survival.

Sea birds could also be reintroduced into the country’s newest public reserve, which DOC describes as a good investment for generations of New Zealanders.

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NZ falcon

It is an unlikely partnership – the predatory New Zealand falcon and the endangered mohua – but they are thriving side by side.

The falcon, a species in gradual decline, and the mohua (yellowhead) are benefiting from a predator control programme in the Catlins River Walk area of the Catlins Forest Park in Southland.

It has not been an easy road for either species, something this reporter and photographer can appreciate after a trek to their home territory last week. Accompanied by Department of Conservation ranger Graeme Loh, the promised 1km walk turned into a four-hour hike – and there were no birds to be found.

However, just as we began the walk home, we heard a falcon’s angry chatter – protesting at strangers in its territory – and experienced its dive bombing skills first-hand.

Mr Loh said the increase in falcons in the area seemed to be the by-product of increased predator control.

full story

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