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Braided River Newsletter #23: 23 September

Hello all,

Congratulations to everyone who has become involved in the braided river wing of #TheFlockNZ. It’s only just begun, and already hundreds of creative black billed gulls, black-fronted terns, banded dotterels, wrybill, SIPO, poaka, and kaki have landed around Canterbury, thanks to the creativity of dozens of children and adults alike. As I write this, members of The Flock are proudly preening themselves at Christchurch International Airport (thanks Kate!) and Methven i-Site (thanks Toni, Sue and Wendy), Twizel (thanks Sandy, Dean & Cody) with a small contingent of dotterels in South Bay Kaikoura (courtesy of the local F&B chair) overlooking the real dotterel nests.

In addition, the braided river Flock has also appeared at DOC Rangiora, Waimakariri District Council, Lilybrook Park Rangiora, Cones Road Bridge (over the Ashley Rakahuri River), Rangiroa Veterinary Clinic, and Ashley Gorge. In the coming weeks, contingents will fly to Mt Cook and multiple  locations in the Ashburton, Selywn, Hurunui, and Kaikoura Districts as well as the Waimakariri River Regional Park.

This project, to raise awareness of braided river birds, would not have existed without the enthusiasm of many people, including the staff at DOC in Rangiora and Twizel, Toni from the Coleridge Habitat Enhancement Trust, students and teachers from Windwhistle, Rangiora Borough and Twizel Schools, the Kowhai Brownies, who are couriering them down from Auckland this week, ECan (Jessica) moving them up to Kaikoura, and Hurunui District Council’s  gardener (David) who has volunteered to move them around, from Cheviot to Amberley, in the coming weeks. Many more have contributed their time and effort, and it’s paying off. The Flock made the front page of The News North Canterbury last week, and interest from the media grows.

Miranda Shorebird Trust, who started #TheFlockNZ, tell me that interest is also growing in other countries including the UK, USA, Russia, France, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Spain, South Korea, and the Ukraine. This raises the profile internationally, and with it hopefully, a greater appreciation from people here at home that these birds and their unique braided river habitats deserve to rescued from imminent extinction.

Keep making the birds, everyone! Let’s grow The Flock so that the names of the river birds become household names.


Sonny Whitelaw


Upcoming River Bird Surveys: please click on the links for contact details

Black-billed gull national census this summer. Help!  Eyes in the ground needed. Claudia Mischler ( needs to time the flights for mid-incubation, and so she needs to know what the birds are doing, be it nest building, or, in particular, laying. It would be most helpful if anyone who comes across a colony at anytime and anywhere (Southland, Otago, Canterbury, West Coast) could let Claudia know where the colony is and what stage the birds are at (roughly what proportion of the colony has eggs, etc). That way, Claudia can time her flights accordingly. Please pass this message through your networks and groups as it will be enormously helpful.

Trustpower trapping programme on the Wilberforce River kicks into gear. Nick and I were invited up there as part of the Braided Rivers Partnership Project. See the results for yourself on the Predator Free NZ blog.

Annual funding report to the Regional Committee of the CWMS (Canterbury Water Management Strategy) on the braided river programmes managed by the Environment Canterbury Regional Biodiversity Team:

Key areas and projects included are:

  • Clarence River (island habitat creation)
  • Upper Rangitata and Rakaia (landscape scale habitat enhancement and predator control)
  • Lower Waitaki River (island habitat creation)
  • Three investigations to inform management (robust grasshopper habitat, black-billed gull status and movements)

DOC Canterbury (Waitaha), Otago and Southland Murihiku Conservation Management Strategies – operative 1 September

WWF $25,000 in Conservation Innovation Awards: Enter between 26 September and 14 October 2016

Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board $6000 in grants to be awarded this year: Entries close 04 October 2016

News items from around the web: (a bit light this newsletter as The Flock has taken over my life…).

BRaid’s next meeting: Friday 3.00pm 04 November at Ngai Mahi Road

Membership Renewal for 2016/2017 due now (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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