Trust grant to protect rare birds

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New funds will help protect rare birds in the Makarora region.

The Aspiring Biodiversity Trust has been granted $69,600 from the Department of Conservation community fund to enhance and restore indigenous threatened species and their habitats within the Makarora Catchment.
Ornithologist and trustee Rachel Hufton said the trust was delighted with the grant.

Rachel Hufton. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON.

The funds would be allocated over a three-year period to their threatened-species projects.
Recent activities of the trust included extending invasive mammal trapping within the north branch of the Wilkin River in the Siberia Valley to protect the blue duck or whio, and upgrading traps in the Crucible Basin, protecting rock wren during the breeding season.

The trust had completed a spring walkover survey of the braided river bird, and was conducting ongoing monitoring of nest sites.
Signage had been installed that would help raise awareness of ground­ nesting birds, she said.

Wrybills, the only bird in the world with a bill that curved to the side, had suffered from rising flood levels leading to the loss of eggs at nest sites.
‘‘Fortunately, other endangered bird species such as the black-billed gull, the rarest gull in the world, have chosen more elevated riverbed nesting sites.’’

A colony of 259 nests was recorded and chicks could be seen walking and interacting among the adult colony.
‘‘Black-fronted tern chicks are also present at higher elevation on the riverbed this year. However, they can be prone to predation from the southern black-backed gull.’’

The trust was also continuing an alpine predator ­control programme in the Crucible Basin and the upper Lucidus/Castalia Basin.
In addition, it was monitoring rock wren and kea in these sites.
‘‘Dedicated volunteers and amazing collaboration with the local community and service providers is integral to the success of this project,’’ Ms Hufton said.