15th October 2019
We now have lots of our Arctic migrants ‘home’. At the last count there were 4,150 godwit, 1,080 red knot and 16 Pacific golden plover. We are still eagerly awaiting the arrival of JoJo, Amanda and wee Jimmy, our tagged PGP. Just when the experts were beginning to think that the batteries in their satellite trackers had run out of power JoJo ‘called home’.
Comments from Jim (the person) ‘(JoJo) is still on Teraina Island in Kiribati. Presumably the dearth of reports has been due to sparse satellite coverage around the equatorial region. No word from Wee Jimmy, which given her track record is no surprise; nor from Amanda, which given her usual reliability is a little puzzling. We’ll just have to hope that both birds and tags are also in good shape but haven’t been able to find satellites to connect to.’ For anyone a little confused, when the tagged birds breeding plumage developed, it became apparent that JoJo is a male and Jim a female.
Meanwhile, out on the shell bank, breeding has begun in the black-billed gull colony. They were not around last season so it’s good to see 1,100 here again and we will hope to see chicks hatch in a couple of months. Many thanks to those volunteers who helped on the three weeding days to prepare the nesting area for the gulls and to clear the roost sites for our shorebirds.
WELCOME TO THE BIRDS
Come and join our Welcome to the Birds event this Sunday 20th October. See the birds that have just arrived back from the Arctic and wish our New Zealand migrants well on their migration south. High tide is at 12:00PM with good bird watching from 10:00AM. Then join us in the centre at 1:00PM for our guest speaker Biz Bell who will be speaking about Black Petrels in the Hauraki Gulf. We can also welcome back Amanda Hunt who is joining us for her second season as Shoreguide, starting Monday 14th October.
CONSERVATION WEEK IN SEPTEMBER
The Department of Conservation’s 50th Conservation Week in September saw an awesome display of brightly painted wooden birds at Memorial Park in Tauranga. The ‘Flock Tauranga’ attracted lots of attention and gave many opportunities to make folk aware of shorebirds and the challenges they face here and overseas. Huge thanks to our educator, Alex Eagles-Tully for organising the event, all the schools who encouraged their students to participate and to the volunteers who gave their time and enthusiasm to make it such a successful occasion.
Sunlive 20th September 2019 – Wooden shorebirds taking over Memorial Park
EnviroSchools hosted an event for its participating schools at DOC in the Kauaeranga Valley on the Friday 13 September. About 100 students from 21 schools came and took part in 9 conservation related activities from building a tracking tunnel, meeting a predator dog to reading bird bands with Chelsea who took along the binoculars and a few wooden banded birds that weren’t at The Flock Tauranga. They inspired us all with their enthusiasm and the ways they’re helping to protect our environment, starting in their own schools.
We recognised Conservation week back at the Shorebird Centre too. We had bird guides with scopes at the Godwit hide around high tide on 14 September and Keith gave a talk to a small but enthusiastic group later in the morning. If you notice numbered wooden pegs along the trails in the Robert Findlay Reserve they are marking different plants. Check out the back of the peg to find the name of the plant or ask for the laminated sheet you can borrow at the Shorebird Centre if you’d like help to identify more plants in the Reserve.
RESTORING THE MAURI OF THE ROBERT FINDLAY RESERVE
Thanks to a lot of help from all kinds of directions, the restoration of the Reserve is making great progress. The 800 plants put into the ground 4 months ago are surviving well, with obvious signs of growth.
A bigger task lies ahead and next autumn we will need all hands on deck. We will be planting 10,000 plants, sufficient to restore at least a hectare. A significant number of these plants will have been grown by our members. This task has been made immeasurably easier thanks to Annie and Sean Wilson of Miranda Gallery, Organic Orchard the Stray Dog Café. Unlike the Shorebird Centre they have a plentiful supply of water, an essential for plant propagation.
Annie and Sean have, very generously, allowed us to establish a restoration nursery on their land and to oversee the watering. This project has been developing over the past few months and last weekend a 16m². shade house was completed to make a nursery area of 90m². Earlier a potting bench was built from donated and spare timber at the Centre. It was quickly put into use, now the shade house contains 350 freshly potted native plants. All being well we should be on target to produce well over 1,000 plants this season and more next year.
- The arrival of Spring and the return of our migrant birds means things get busier at the Shorebird Centre. Two groups of Animal Behaviour students from Auckland University were here for 2-night field trips; a team from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology were based here for a week learning wildlife survey techniques in the Kopuatai Peat Dome; and the annual Dotterel Management course was again fully booked. Thanks to John Dowding for passing on his expertise and enthusiasm for these special shorebirds.
- The ever popular Wader ID course, coming up next month, is now fully booked as is the January 2020 Field Course. If you are interested you can add your name to the waiting list, you may be lucky, if not you will be first to know the dates of the courses for the following year.
- We have been told to expect even more visitors when our leg of the Cycle Trail opens soon. With that in mind we are looking at updating our facilities. Do we have any architects or bathroom designers out there who would like to help us redesign our public bathrooms? If you can help, please contact Keith or Chelsea at the Centre.
- We have a wonderful group of volunteers who work away in the background, many thanks to all and special thanks to the two who made a big impression on the grounds after the Dotterel Management course.
- Good news for some, a toilet block is soon to be installed near the Reserve carpark. This will be funded and maintained by the local council as part of the Hauraki Cycle Trail network.
- Some of you will have noticed our recently installed AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) on the wall opposite the laundry. This was donated by St Johns. Let’s hope we never have to use it but it is good to know it is available 24/7 just in case.
- We haven’t forgotten about a new manager’s residence. We have been checking on plans and costing. We will keep everyone informed as we progress.
FROM THE SHOP
Our 2020 Shorebird Calendar is now available in the shop and online. See www.shorebirds.org.nz for details. Check out all the new products now in stock, just in time for Christmas!
LET’S MAKE WRYBILL BIRD OF THE YEAR
As our YEAR OF THE WRYBILL winds down the Forest and Bird BIRD OF THE YEAR competition opens for voting on October 28th. The new format for this competition, where you can rank your five favourite birds, fits very nicely with PMNT’s approach. It has given us the opportunity to promote the WRYBILL as the poster bird for all of those threatened endemic species that call the braided rivers of the South Island their home. The multiple challenges that are faced while protecting and preserving this precious habitat need to be better known. So, if the black stilt, banded dotterel, black-billed gull, black fronted tern and WRYBILL are your favourite birds it would be great to vote for them all, but even better if the WRYBILL was at the top of your list.
A vote for WRYBILL is a vote for all braided river species and their remarkable habitat.
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