MIRANDA BIOBLITZ – THE THOUSAND SPECIES CHALLENGE
The Miranda Naturalists’ Trust (MNT) is organising a “Bioblitz” of the Miranda Coast between 6 a.m. and midnight on 28 February 2013. The area to be covered encompasses the coastal strip between the Taramaire and Pukorokoro/Miranda Streams, and the adjacent intertidal zone. It will also include the grounds of the Miranda Shorebird Centre and the grazing block owned by MNT on the landward side of the road.
What is a bioblitz?
A day and night survey of an area for all forms of life, with the participation of as many people as possible, including local schools, iwi, district and regional councils, community groups etc, searching for species which are then identified by invited on-site experts.
Come and help us find all the plants and animals we possibly can
You may choose just to come and marvel at what has been collected and displayed, listen to the ten minute talks and meet the experts. But we hope you will come and search in the field for new species to help us reach our 1000 target. Experts will lead forays, or you may choose to go hunting alone.
As well as the short talks, the programme will include events such as emptying of fish traps, bird netting and moth trapping. Small life forms will be displayed on the big screen.
Remember we start at 6.00am and finish at midnight, so you can call in on the way to work or school and drop in again in the evening. Programme details will be posted on the website and facebook as they are finalised, so keep in touch. We plan to have coffee and snacks available – again, watch this space for details!
We also need Miranda members to help lead forays, help with the washing up, meet and greet, etc,etc. Please let the Centre know when you are available and what you will be happy to do, email or phone 092322781.
The Firth of Thames is an internationally important site for thousands of shorebirds, attracted by the rich food resources of its 8500 ha intertidal zone and coastal margins. For some species such as New Zealand Dotterel, Variable Oystercatcher, Pied Stilt and Black-billed Gull the Firth is a breeding site, but for most it is the place to support them between breeding seasons. Each September, after breeding in the Arctic tundra regions, Bar-tailed Godwit, Red Knot, Pacific Golden Plover, and Turnstone begin arriving at Miranda. Here they moult and prepare for their next northward departure in March. From late December Pied Oystercatchers and Wrybill begin returning from their breeding sites in the South Island, remaining here until late June and July. During this period the Miranda coast hosts 40 per cent of the entire Wrybill population. For all these birds the Firth is a migration hub, a vital link in a chain of habitats extending both within New Zealand and along the East Asia-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). That is why the Firth of Thames is designated a Ramsar wetland of international importance, one of six such sites in New Zealand. Similarly other harbours and estuaries within the region – such as Manukau, Kaipara, Tauranga and Kawhia, all support large flocks of shorebirds. To preserve these ecological systems, to maintain their health, we need to learn much more about them.
For over twenty years the Miranda Naturalists’ Trust (MNT) has operated an information/education centre at Miranda. Key objectives of the Miranda Shorebird Centre are to raise public awareness of coastal ecology and to advocate for shorebirds and their habitats. We have hosted tens of thousands of visitors, including schools, tertiary institutions, community groups and overseas travellers. We run training courses and, where possible, facilitate research projects. We are also closely involved with the EAAF, and since 2004, when MNT established a sister-site partnership with Yalu Jiang National Nature Reserve in China, we have participated in regular shorebirds surveys, school visits and other awareness raising activities at Yalu Jiang.
Land tenure along the Miranda coast is mostly DOC and District Council administered crown reserve or roadside reserve, with just two blocks in private ownership. One of those blocks, covenanted with the QEII National Trust, and where our bird hides are located, is one of the most important areas of shorebird habitat on the entire Firth of Thames. With our focus being primarily on awareness and education we have, until recently, done little in the way of habitat management. However we now have the opportunity to become more actively involved with management of the QEII block, and have begun investigating options for habitat management, restoration or enhancement. To this end we need to find out what is there. We need an inventory of species that will allow better planning and also give us baseline data from which we can monitor any changes. This is why we are proposing the Miranda bioblitz. Can we find a thousand species in just eighteen hours?
Come along, get involved, help us reach the target. Please liaise with the Centre if you plan to bring a group of people so we can ensure you get the most from your visit.
Remember to watch this site for more updates.
See you on Thursday 28th February.