Monday, 19 May 2008

NZ Bird Survey

The Landcare Research Garden Bird Survey 2007 results are in. With only two native species (waxeyes and fantails) in the top 10, it's a good earmark to see where we are in the slow decline (or increase) of native birds overall.

In her book, Customers and Green Men, Margaret Elizabeth McKay recalls Otautau in the early 1900s. Although she didn't note what birds were in her back garden (other than chickens), she did write about the birds along the Aparima River, where as a child she would often play with her brothers. She noted skylarks, dotterels, wrybill plovers and black-billed gulls. She also saw terns, oystercatchers, stilts, and occasionally bitterns and white herons.

And of the Longwoods Range, she writes wistfully:

Those woods, at that time, were bountifully supplied with native birds and native white clematis. We became spellbound by the myriads of white blossoms running along the parent lianes and twined about trees, lending the forest a
delicate bridal air.
I think a garden bird survey is a brilliant idea and wonder if anyone would be interested in our own survey of what birds inhabit our river and stream areas. This summer, I saw a white-faced heron several times at the Otautau Stream. Maybe this is a good project for the kids at school? It would be interesting to compare what our birdlife is today with what it was 100 years ago when the author was growing up.

[Pictured above are white-fronted terns which I took at another place, not Otautau.]

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