Home' Christchurch Mail : April 25th 2013 Contents 5
CHRISTCHURCH MAIL, APRIL 25, 2013
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Pests prowl where
birds were once safe
By ANNA PRICE
BIRD WATCH: Andrew Crossland offers his telescope to a wellwisher at the
Farewell to the Godwits last year at Southshore Spit.
PREDATORS ARE encroaching
into new habitats on the fringes of
suburban Christchurch, threaten-
ing rare native birdlife, a city
council park ranger warns.
Andrew Crossland, ornitholog-
ist and wildlife watchdog, said
that although rats had always
roamed widely in Christchurch,
other predators such as ferrets,
weasels and stoats, which had
previously prowled the edges of
town from the estuary and lower
Avon reserves, were expanding
their territory as red-zoned land
This vacant land is now under
The eastern estuary always
had predators living there, but
they were kept down by council
control,'' Mr Crossland said.
When people are living there
with cats and dogs, you don't have
ferrets, stoats and weasels. They
are chased away.''
Until recently, valuable bird
species in areas such as Bexley
and the Bromley sewage ponds --
former council reserves -- had
been protected by traps and moat-
like water barriers.
About 25 per cent of the world's
scaup (black diving duck) popu-
lation, for example, used to breed
in the sewage ponds.
That's why council was protec-
ting those areas from predators.
These were a very important
asset for us to look after. Now, in
Bexley, we're starting to see an
expansion of wild predators into
these areas that were formerly
closed to them, and which were
excluded by cats and dogs.
We had controls in place to
give birds a chance, to stop them
from being eaten,'' he said.
Around the estuary and river,
this is a concern, because
that's where the bird population
Local conservationists say
thought needs to be given to the
problem in terms of awareness
and protection, if desirable wild-
life is to be lured back.
Mr Crossland said that after
the earthquakes, there had been
considerable changes in habitat in
South New Brighton, the lower
Avon, and Bexley areas.
Birdlife is still very much in
the process of readjustment.
There seem to be changes in the
feeding and roosting distribution
of wetland birds, and overall
numbers using the area seem to
This was particularly evident in
birds feeding on the mudflats just
above the Bridge St bridge, and
others roosting on Rat Island --
the former home of the Pleasant
Point Yacht Club.
Amid the birdlife in the area
has been the unexpected arrival of
the endangered Australasian bit-
tern, a species long absent from
TEN YEARS of predator control
in Kennedy's Bush and other
city council reserves have seen
a big drop in possum numbers
and rats, and a steady increase
in three key native bird species
-- bellbird, kereru and the South
City council parks ranger,
Andrew Crossland, says that
Kennedy's Bush has now
become a major seasonal
exporter'' of bellbird and kereru
(native pigeon) to the parks and
gardens of Christchurch.
Bellbirds, particularly, have
responded extremely well and
are now widespread over most
of Christchurch in autumn and
winter,'' Mr Crossland said.
This month, 104 bellbirds
were recorded along a 3km
slow walk transect'' on tracks
within Kennedy's Bush reserve
-- more than double the 49
recorded in April 2003.
As many as 20 kereru were
recorded there this month (com-
pared with 12 in April 2003),
and 11 South Island tomtits
(two in April 2003).
All birds were seen or heard
10 metres either side of the
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