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From Courtney Thompson, ECan Regional Park Ranger
Our main black-billed gull colony at the end of Haul Road has had to withstand several freshes coming through the river over the past month. We held our breath for some of the higher water levels but, somewhat amazingly, most of the birds seemed to remain above the water level and continued to nest in this location. The water did wash out some of the outlying birds and the pairs around the edges so the colony has reduced in size, but chicks have begun to fledge and it seems like we will get a few more from this colony before the season is over. We have had a couple of reports of people getting too close to this colony. Signage has remained in place in this location throughout the summer period, and the freshes have been a bonus at times adding to a river channel blocking the colony from the main bank of the river.
There is also another small colony of Black-bills further up the north bank of the Waimak that we are monitoring, which should successfully fledge some chicks. I will have better numbers and fledging success rate estimates in a couple of months, which will be included in my annual bird report.
Also of note up the north bank of the Waimakariri River is a large, scattered colony of black-fronted terns with chicks already seen running about. The terns are scattered over an area of several hundred metres, immediately next to a gravel extraction site. We spoke to the gravel extractors who were very co-operative, agreeing to use alternate access to their site and blocking off their previous extraction route to try and divert members of the public.
Predator control is on-going in various locations around the river, mostly adjacent to the main colonies we are watching.
I will send out a final update next month, before the bird report covering this season is released shortly after.
As always, please feel free to get back to me with questions.
Courtney Popenhagen, email: firstname.lastname@example.org