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From Ann-Kathrin Schlesselmann
Thanks to the support from Environment Canterbury through its Canterbury Braided River Initiative, the Department of Conservation, University of Otago, New Zealand Jetboating Association and the Lower Waitaki River Management Society, in October this year we started a project in the Lower Waitaki River to improve the breeding habitat for braided river birds, one of the targets and goals of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.
The ideal breeding habitat for braided river birds is clear, open shingles in areas with no mammalian predators. Trialing different techniques, this is the habitat we are trying to create for the birds in the next year.
Currently we are monitoring 5 black-fronted tern colonies – over 400 birds – in the river and have set up tracking tunnels to monitor mammalian predators on the banks and islands in the Waitaki. This is the baseline that we can use to compare data in the future.
While the outcome monitoring focuses on the breeding success of black-fronted terns, we hope there will be concurrent benefits for the black-billed gull colony and several wrybill and banded dotterel nesting in the area. The overall aim is to develop recommendations for the better protection of braided river species.