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  • Braided River Newsletter #25: 24 November

    Posted on November 24, 2016 by in banded dotterel, bird survey, Black-billed gull, black-fronted terns, Clarence River, DOC, ECan, Harper River, kaki, kaki /black stilt, Newsletters, Waiau River, Waimakariri, Wilberforce River

    Hello all,

    Firstly, please note that the next BRaid meeting his this Friday 25 November at 31 Nga Mahi Rod, Sockburn. This will be our final meeting for 2016.

    It’s been a disruptive couple of weeks, from coming to grips with a new world order to dealing with yet another earthquake sequence, which has also impacted wildlife. While you have all no doubt seen or read about the impact to paua, crayfish, and seals, we have not yet heard how braided river birds are doing on the Conway and Clarence Rivers, or that of banded dotterels nesting on South Bay Beach; this colony had already been suffering the loss of adults and a multitude of chicks prior to the quakes. Around half the largest colony of Huttons Shearwater has been lost, with as much as 25% of the entire population wiped out, but the actual extent of the damage has yet to be determined. The red-billed gull colony on the peninsular is okay, and while 2 little blue penguin chicks died, the colony is largely unscathed because the tsunami hit at low tide. More updates on other wildlife can be heard on Radio New Zealand here.

    Help needed to follow up the aerial survey of black-billed gulls

    This map  is a preliminary aerial survey of Canterbury that does not include the one colony on the lower Waimakariri River, or any off-river locations of nesting black-billed gulls. If you live anywhere near these locations and can keep a (careful distant) eye on how the colonies are going over the next few months, it would be incredibly helpful if you could let Mike Bell of Wildlife International Limited, know.

    Similarly, for colonies outside the Canterbury region, could you please contact Claudia Mischeler.


    Sonny Whitelaw


    Upcoming River Bird Surveys

    • Ashley Rakahuri this Saturday: please meet  at the carpark at 8.30am, and let Bev ( know if you are coming.

    Completed River Bird Surveys

    Waimakariri River Regional Park update: ECan have trialled the creation of two islands out from The Sanctuary wetland (near Coutts Island Road). Fulton Hogan had extraction machinery working nearby and kindly built two raised islands for them. The existing islands were raised between 50cm – 100cm and logs and debris were placed back on top. This location was chosen as Black-billed Gulls and Black fronted terns especially have nested in this area for at least the last 2 seasons. To further entice the birds they had 10 black-billed gull decoys created, which were placed on the island in the hopes of attracting other (real) birds. See their full report and photos here.

    Waiau River trapping:  Following our call for help with this, Amuri Jet has generously agreed to monitor traps around the black-fronted tern colony at Shark tooth. Given the negative impact on tourism that Hanmer Springs has had as a result of the quakes, if you are up that way and thinking of a jetboat ride, it would be great if you would consider supporting Amuri Jet.

    Harper and Wilberforce Rivers: A big thank you to Brian Lancaster from Trustpower for taking us  up to the Harper and Wilberforce Rivers on Monday 24 November to check on the birds. As part of the Braided Rivers Partnership Project, four signs were also installed to alert visitors that this is the height of breeding season. Brian has been clearing the Harper delta of weeds and creating ideal river bird habitat, which was now been adopted by at least one pair of SIPO, that have successfully raised a chick, and several banded dotterels, some still nesting (see photos).  DOC200 and Timms traps (so far the Timms have been the most effective) have also been installed and being checked by Trustpower.

    Kaki Conservation Event: this went extremely well. For a full report, see (warning: cute chicks alert!)

    The Flock’s plans to land in Cheviot were interrupted by the quakes, so they are now resting in the DOC offices at Rangiora (sorry Sarah, who can hardly fit in her office, what with around 300 birds and all…). However, they will soon take flight again, with their next appearance in Christchurch from 5-9pm, 01 December at the First Thursdays arts and entertainment event; themedLIFE AQUATIC’ . Join us for a night of free arts and entertainment. Combining art, exhibitions, live music, installations, hands-on arts activities, night markets and more, there’s something for everyone! The Flock will be on display, and we’ll have a table with cut-out birds and paint ready for budding artists to contribute their skills. If you are able to volunteer your time, please join us as the more hand on deck, the more we can promote braided river birds.

    Also just in: A massive FLOCK has landed in Devonport. The photos are amazing!

    Other news items:

    • Biological rhythms: Wild times: A study of shorebird pairs shows that rhythms of nest-incubation duties are mainly governed by strategies to avoid predators (Nature doi:10.1038/nature20481)

    • The bird with 4 sexes:who knows how many other birds have the same chromosomal anomaly? (Nature news – no firewall, free access)

    • Why do seabirds eat plastic (and what it could mean for our birds wintering on the coast…) (Science magazine)

    • IUCN may have mis-classified the threats to hundreds of animals (Science magazine)

    • $36,000 fine for river path change: a farmer who allowed a contractor to carry out earthworks affecting the path of the Oreti River has been fined for affecting the change of river path, home to the black bill gull (

    BRaid’s next meeting: Friday 3.00pm 25 November at Ngai Mahi Road, Sockburn.

    Membership Renewal for 2016/2017 was due September. If you are not already a member of BRaid, you can join as a General, Casual, or Representative member. General Membership is a modest $20/annum, giving you voting rights and the opportunity to have a say in BRaid’s activities.

    Thanks to those who have contributed to this newsletter. Please keep news items coming.


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