What is it about birds, that we love? If you have the time, to sit and watch, they are actually very fascinating in their behaviours. And our harbour, has an abundance and a variety of bird species. But how can we ensure their survival? How can we keep the harbour in a healthy state, to ensure they can keep living here?
What birds do we have here?
John Adams and Graeme Webb, of Whangamata, have gone to great lengths to report on our harbour birds, which you can read in the link below.
One way, of protecting our birds, they believe, is in the importance of preventing the further spread of mangroves and in maintaining large areas of open estuarine mudflats for feeding, resting and roosting habitat for all the other wildlife species listed.
Either through misunderstandings, misinformation or oversight we believe insufficient weight has been given to the importance of such areas to the other waterbirds and too much weight to mis-informed opinion regarding the importance of mangroves for the survival of the
resident banded rail population.
Read the reports below - you'll be amazed at how many species can be found in our harbour.
Much is talked about the Banded Rail, and if you're talking to some groups - they believe that they live in the mangroves. I can say they don't. Having observed a pair for the last 6 months, on a daily basis, they will use the edge of the mangrove forest as protection from predators, such as Harrier Hawks. But they feed on the open mud flats, and nest in the reserve-side, grass fringes. They actually have very little to do with mangroves.
If you would like a chance to see one or two, aim for low tide, before 8am or after 5pm. They've been sighted on the Hetherington Road reserve, and the mudflats, beside the helipad.
A pair of Banded Rail have been captured on video, in our upper causeway harbour recently (2021).
High Tide Roost Station
WHC aiming to build new roost for birds
An exciting development is underway for a high tide roost in our harbour for migrating and resident wading birds. “This will be quite a mountain to climb, in terms of getting consent conditions met, but it will be hugely beneficial to the harbour birds that use our harbour to rest and recover,” says John Adams, the project’s leader, within the Whangamata Harbour Care group.
Presently in its planning stage, John is leading a team of engineers and knowledgeable ‘bird’ experts, to design a suitable harbour bird roost, and liaise with local council to gain approval. Arctic breeding species, such as the bar-tailed godwit, and red knot, use our harbour to recover, before undertaking their 15,000km return flight back to their breeding grounds in Alaska.
The problem with their current resting site, is that it is surrounded by a lot of human activity. It’s adjacent to the children’s playground on the Beach Road reserve, which is also frequented by dog walkers, families picnicking, swimmers and other water sports activities. The area is also where visitor cars and motorhomers park – and as we approach the summer holidays, these activities increase, meaning that these special birds may never recover sufficiently, to survive their long flight home.
“The number of both seasonal visiting and resident bird species utilising our harbour have reduced considerably over the past 20-30 years”, points out John. “This is because of the reduction in quality and loss of essential habitat, including that of suitable low-disturbance roosting sites. Unless the factors threatening the remaining roosting site for waders are eliminated, the harbour will soon cease to be a home for these birds”.
Unfortunately sea level rise, mangrove spread and human disturbance factors are all unlikely to be resolved sufficiently or soon enough to prevent this from happening, which is why, Plan B, is building a high tide wader roost.
A drawing of the proposed roost, and its location will be drawn up shortly. If you have an interest in this project, sign up on the website, and become a member!
We will let you know if we need assistance with this.
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