Thursday, October 28, 2021

Conservationists concerned over reckless drivers endangering rare birds

Conservationists are concerned reckless four-wheel-drive owners will kill rare birds and their chicks during nesting season on Canterbury’s Ashley River.

Ashley Rakahuri Rivercare Group operations manager Grant Davey urged people to keep their vehicles away from the gravel bed of the North Canterbury river to protect wrybills who have been threatened by several vehicles already this season.

Unique to New Zealand, wrybills are the only birds in the world with a beak that curves to the side which they use to prise insects from underneath stones.

The birds migrate to the Ashley-Rakahuri River in mid to late August from their winter feeding grounds in North Island estuaries.

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On the river they nest in solitary pairs, sharing incubation up to 36 days and will vigorously defend their territory against other wrybills.

Davey volunteers to help trap pests as well as monitor birds in the area.

With only 8 to 10 wrybills nesting along the river each year, human disturbance was the biggest threat to their survival, he said.

A wrybill nesting in the Ashley River. Vehicles are threatening nests.

Supplied

A wrybill nesting in the Ashley River. Vehicles are threatening nests.

In 2017 a 4WD squashed a wrybill nest and egg, and Davey believed this week the same pair may have been subjected to another close call.

A motion detection camera managed to capture an image of a 4WD that came perilously close to destroying the pair’s nest.

Davey was able to identify the number plate and has since passed the information on to the Department of Conservation.

To gain access to the riverbed, the vehicles have to drive around a dozen Environment Canterbury signs at the main entrance to the river that warns the public not to enter between September and January.

Davey said there had been incidents where people had physically removed barriers.

On Thursday, Davey also discovered two banded dotterel nests near SH1 that had been run over by 4WDs.

He was also concerned about Crate Day, and the activities that went along with it, that was coming around again.

Last year social media showed several convoys of 4WDs on the Ashley River that did a lot of damage, said Davey.

Environment Canterbury Parks and Forests team leader James Page said they took misuse of the areas seriously and were following up on reports of 4WD activity.

Notices warn the public not to go on to the Ashley River while wrybills are nesting.

Supplied

Notices warn the public not to go on to the Ashley River while wrybills are nesting.

“We monitor the area closely, and there is signage installed along the river advising park users about the nesting area, and concrete blocks are installed at entry points to deter vehicles.”

Page said the nesting area had been cordoned off since September to protect the wrybill colony. He warned nesting areas were protected by the Wildlife Act, which was administered by the Department of Conservation.

He encouraged anyone that saw colonies being disturbed to contact them on 0800 324 636.

This article first show on www.stuff.co.nz Source link Author NADINE PORTER on date 2021-10-14 07:07:59

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