Birds returning as predators take beating

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 13:05 04/09/2012
Tui
LOOKING GOOD: Thanks to the work of volunteer groups, native birds are increasingly being seen in Nelson, Stoke and Richmond.

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Native birds are returning to the city and suburban streets in Nelson, Stoke and Richmond in greater numbers after decades of rarely being seen or heard.

The increase in birdlife is being attributed to the work of volunteer groups killing predators, including rats and possums, and creating better survival rates for baby birds.

Nelsonian Bryce Buckland who helped set up a trapping group Birdlife on the Grampians (Blog) two years ago said he had several people tell him they were seeing pigeons, tui and bellbirds in their gardens for the first time.

He had also been contacted by a lot of people telling him about seeing weka in their garden "including a teacher from Nelson College for Girls who saw a weka walking past the college in the middle of Trafalgar St".

He had recently seen a bellbird outside the ASB Bank on Hardy St and tui near Fashion Island.

He believes the increase is due to Blog and other groups, including those in the Brook and Marsden Valleys, the Richmond foothills, the Centre of New Zealand and in Atawhai and Delaware Bay, that are targeting pests that kill baby birds.

There are also several private landowners undertaking trapping.

Blog had removed 600 rats from the Grampians in the past two years.

Mr Buckland said the removal of the pests had taken pressure off the birds and allowed them to breed more successfully.

"Suddenly the birds can go through a life cycle."

Mr Buckland said the fantastic work all the trapping groups were doing needed to be celebrated.

The Nelson region was setting a great example to the rest of the country.

"It doesn't take a lot, just the tipping point to push things in the other direction and suddenly we've got the flow-on effect."

The increase in birds such as weka meant it was timely to remind people of their responsibility to help protect the birds, he said.

Weka nested on the ground and did not have protection from pets and dogs. Most dogs had never seen weka before and needed to be taught how to react around them and not chase them, he said.

"You don't know what your dog would do if your dog has never seen a weka before."

Weka were particularly vulnerable as they were curious birds that would come right up to humans and could be killed by dogs and cats as sport.

Mr Buckland said he was interested in hearing where falcon were nesting. Falcon nest on the ground and were endangered and endemic to New Zealand.

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If he was told where their nests were he could arrange extra traps around the nests to help protect them.

He is also looking for someone to set up a trapping line in the Tantragee Saddle area up the Brook Valley.

Weka are also popping up in gardens in the Richmond foothills.

Will Rickerby is involved in restoration work in a gully known locally as Will's Gully.

He also co-ordinates a regional newsletter for volunteer trapping groups.

The Richmond Hills groups have removed 1778 rats over a number of years.

Mr Rickerby said he had a birdfeeder in his Richmond garden and had tui and bellbirds that he had not seen in the garden before.

Richmond resident Allan Hart, who also helps out on trapping projects, said he had lived in Richmond for nearly 80 years and he believed there were a lot more bellbirds, tui and wood pigeons around.

He had noticed an increase over the last five years.

He had not seen a weka on the Richmond foothills until the trapping started and they now were starting to come into people's gardens.

Don Sullivan, who is involved in trapping in Marsden Valley, said he had feedback of more native and non-native species around.

A Marsden Valley resident had told him of a morepork that hung out on his clothesline.

He had monitored birdlife in Marsden Valley and it had doubled in the past five years.

"People are just happy with the birdlife now; it gives a lot of pleasure."

For more information on native birds visit: whatbird.co.nz

- © Fairfax NZ News

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