Bird numbers soar to new heights on Miramar Peninsula
The latest Miramar Peninsula bird count results reveal a 51% increase in native birds on the Miramar Peninsula.
James Willcocks, Project Director for Predator Free Wellington, said the explosion of wildlife on the Miramar Peninsula is an acknowledgment of everyone’s efforts to eradicate rats and mustelids from the peninsula.
“It’s a real credit to the hard work that’s being done, not just from us, but from volunteer groups, such as Predator Free Miramar, Te Motu Kairangi Ecological Restoration group, Forest and Bird - Places for Penguins, as well as all the volunteer trapping groups throughout the wider Wellington city.
“Everyone is pitching in and it’s so satisfying to see more and more native birds on the peninsula and in our city.”
“This is a real demonstration of what can be achieved when people commit to delivering a collective vision,” said James.
James said birds tell us about the health of a place, so they are a type of messenger in this regard. To see the bird numbers increase as they are, tells us Wellington is alive, we are living in a nature city, and Wellingtonians can only expect to see more native birds in their neighbourhood.
Along with the formal bird count results, Predator Free Wellington has 300 monitoring cameras set up to detect rat activity on the peninsula.
“We used to have thousands of rat photographs to scan through weekly, now instead of rats we are picking up kākāriki on our cameras, and we are seeing more images of kororā (little blue penguins) than rats on the peninsula which is epic,” said James.
Dan Henry, Predator Free Miramar says the formal results are hugely gratifying and reflect what those in the community are seeing.
“We hear lots of reports from delighted locals of tūi feeding in backyards, or pīwakawaka following volunteers along their traplines in the bush, but it’s awesome to have these anecdotes confirmed with the data. And kākā sightings are becoming more and more frequent too, so we’re looking forward to having them settle properly soon,” said Dan.
Predator Free Wellington is a partnership between Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Predator Free 2050 Limited and the NEXT Foundation.
Predator Free Wellington is a world first project attempting to remove introduced species from the capital city and its surrounds so that native species and communities can thrive. Stage one of this project is an attempt to eradicate two species of rats, stoats and weasels from Miramar Peninsula before moving further into the city. Miramar Peninsula is home to thousands of Wellingtonians, making this eradication one of the first large-scale multi species pest eradications to be carried out in urban and suburban habitat anywhere in the world.
Additional information on bird counts:
- A network of 84 five-minute bird count stations has been established on Miramar Peninsula to monitor the response of local bird populations to Predator Free Wellington’s efforts to eradicate rats and mustelids from the peninsula. A single bird count has been carried out at each count station since 2017.
- Among the 12 native terrestrial bird species present on Miramar Peninsula between 2017 and 2021, the tūī was the most widespread, being recorded at 81 (96%) of the 84 count stations and reported on 2,465 occasions by citizen scientists.
- The five most widespread native birds on the peninsula (in order) are: tūi, tauhou (silvereye), riroriro (grey warbler), pīwakawaka (NZ fantail), and kōtare (NZ kingfisher).
- The kārearea (NZ falcon) was the eighth most widespread native terrestrial bird species on Miramar Peninsula between 2017 and 2021, being recorded at three (4%) of the 84 bird count stations and reported on 198 occasions by citizen scientists. One pair has been breeding in an area of harvested pine forest above Shelly Bay since at least 2018.
- Kākā and kākāriki (red-crowned parakeet) were recorded on six and twelve occasions respectively by citizen scientists, this may be an early sign that these two species are in the process of recolonising forested habitats on the peninsula.
- Ruru (morepork) have been recorded on 32 occasions by local citizen scientists between 2017 and 2021. Note - it is fairly unlikely that ruru (morepork) will be detected during five-minute bird counts as they are a nocturnal species and the counts are carried out during daylight hours.
Posted: 28 July 2022