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Pegasus Post: September 24, 2020

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6<br />

Thursday <strong>September</strong> <strong>24</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />

News<br />

Latest Canterbury news at starnews.co.nz<br />

BIRDS OF THE ESTUARY<br />

PEGASUS POST<br />

Godwits return to<br />

estuary feeding spots<br />

• By Bea Gooding<br />

THE AVON-Heathcote Estuary<br />

has welcomed back the first<br />

of the godwits from Alaska,<br />

who have made the eight-day,<br />

11,000km journey back to their<br />

feeding spots.<br />

About 125 bar-tailed godwits<br />

have so far arrived from their<br />

breeding grounds from the other<br />

side of the world to enjoy the<br />

warmer months in Canterbury,<br />

and many more were to be expected<br />

over the next few weeks.<br />

The city council ornithologist<br />

Andrew Crossland said they arrived<br />

on <strong>September</strong> 14, the same<br />

date as the previous years of<br />

2015 and 2017, and was expecting<br />

between 1300 to 1500 more<br />

godwits arrivals by the end of<br />

November this year.<br />

During NZ’s winter, 306 godwits<br />

were counted on the city’s<br />

estuaries.<br />

“Some of these birds disappeared<br />

during August as they<br />

become restless and move about<br />

the country.”<br />

Tanya Jenkins is the manager of the Avon-Heathcote Estuary Ihutai Trust, a<br />

non-profit organisation formed in 2002 to protect one of New Zealand’s most<br />

important coastal wetlands. Each week she introduces a new bird found in<br />

the estuary. Her column aims to raise the understanding of the values and<br />

uniqueness of the area.<br />

Innovative gull dominates other birds<br />

NOT FUSSY: The wide-ranging<br />

appetite of black-backed gulls has<br />

led to a large increase in numbers<br />

since their arrival in New Zealand.<br />

PHOTO: ANDREW CROSSLAND<br />

WORDS LIKE innovative,<br />

adaptable, cunning and<br />

survivors spring to mind<br />

when talking about the<br />

black-backed gull or karoro<br />

– the largest and most<br />

common gull species in New<br />

Zealand.<br />

They are found anywhere<br />

across the country in<br />

non-forested areas, from<br />

coastlines to high country<br />

farming areas.<br />

Since European arrival,<br />

numbers of these large birds<br />

have exploded due to the<br />

fact that they quite like the<br />

introduction of farms and<br />

especially landfills where<br />

these not too fussy eaters<br />

have done extremely well.<br />

With an appetite for anything<br />

from newborn lambs,<br />

rabbits, eggs and chicks from<br />

other bird species, landfill waste,<br />

public rubbish bin contents and<br />

fishing offal from fishing boats,<br />

numbers have increased from<br />

a few thousand to an estimated<br />

half million plus, with some colonies<br />

reaching up to 1000 birds.<br />

Carrying the disease salmonella,<br />

their waste can actually<br />

‘pollute’ grassed areas which can<br />

be detrimental to farm animals<br />

and cause pollution in our waterways.<br />

In Christchurch with the<br />

closure of the Burwood<br />

Landfill in 2005 this bird<br />

has dispersed throughout<br />

the city where it manages<br />

quite well.<br />

In 2018, black-backed<br />

gulls managed to raid<br />

the chicks from every<br />

single nest of the critically<br />

endangered black-billed gull<br />

in Charlesworth Reserve and<br />

they have, understandably,<br />

not returned there since<br />

(and neither have other<br />

nesting birds such as the<br />

pied stilt).<br />

Due to the current risk<br />

of losing a number of other<br />

bird species in and around<br />

the estuary a black-backed<br />

gull management strategy<br />

is currently under review.<br />

Watch this space.<br />

How can we help prevent<br />

these birds from taking over the<br />

estuary? Please do not encourage<br />

these birds to stay here by<br />

making it just too easy for them<br />

by feeding bread or left-over fish<br />

and chips near the estuary.<br />

Christchurch<br />

STORES<br />

Downsizing? Decluttering?<br />

Please help support local St John activities by donating good quality pre-loved clothing,<br />

jewellery, homeware, furniture and books to one of your local St John Christchurch stores.<br />

We welcome donations dropped of at either:<br />

272 Lincoln Road, Addington or 180 Durham Street South, City<br />

or please call 027 304 7821 to book a donation collection.

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