Te Waihora bird survey

 

Aliesha and photographer Steve Attwood counting birds in Rennies Bay.  Photo supplied by Anita Spencer, DOC.

Aliesha and photographer Steve Attwood counting birds in Rennies Bay. Photo supplied by Anita Spencer, DOC.

On February 21, 2015 around 50 staff and volunteers from several organisations undertook a count of all the wetland birds present at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

 

This year almost 48,000 birds were recorded around the lake. The numbers will be reviewed over the next few weeks and the table updated as necessary. The table shows the birds counted this year, and then in columns to the right, the corresponding totals from 2013 and 2014.

 

The Christchurch City Council rangers took on the lake shore, which falls within Christchurch City. They covered the area in four  teams and counted around half the birds. The lake shore in the Selwyn District was covered by nine teams. Each team included experienced Ornithological Society NZ birders, supported by  staff and volunteers from the Department of Conservation, Environment Canterbury and Waihora Ellesmere Trust.

Selwyn team members met in the morning for a briefing at Springston South Soldiers Memorial Hall, and returned there later in the day with their numbers, and to catch up with the other teams. Things were slightly slow to begin with, as there were patches of fog around the lake. Fortunately this lifted and didn’t significantly delay counting.

 

Black-billed gulls.  Photo courtesy Steve Attwood, Christchurch .

Black-billed gulls. Photo courtesy Steve Attwood, Christchurch .

The count is a snapshot of the birds present on a specific day and, for the species which occur in large numbers such as the ducks and geese, the numbers are estimated by experienced counters.

 

The total number of birds recorded is slightly over 13% down on last year, with just under 48,000 compared with around 55,000 in 2014. The numbers of waterfowl were well down again. However,  it is hard to draw any conclusions with only three years of data to look at.

 

The birds are grouped into shags, herons, waterfowl, NZ waders, Arctic Waders, and gulls and terns. The total numbers of each group of bird species is highlighted in a different colour on the table (link below). The preliminary results can be viewed here

You can view photos from the bird survey on the WET Facebook page

Visit the WET  2013 bird survey page and the 2014 bird survey page to see full details of previous counts.