Ducks Unlimited
Monday, 22 July 2019 02:16

Bird numbers up at Lake Ellesmere

Written by Peter Russell
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Bird numbers up at Lake Ellesmere – annual census

An “all wetland species” census of Lake Ellesmere was carried out on February 22 by 12 teams of observers: Ornithological 
Society NZ, Department of Conservation, Christchurch City Council rangers, Fish & Game, Environment Canterbury, Ngai Tahu, Rotoract, Waihora Ellesmere Trust, and others. 
 
There were 55,033 birds counted thanks to the hard work of the many people involved. 

BirdingNZ website tells us that February 22 was one of the hottest days of summer, over 40 people from a range of organisations undertook the counting of all the wetland birds on Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. You can see some of those photos on their Facebook page. 
 
The 12 teams each took a section of the lake margin. Each team included experienced OSNZ birders, supported by staff and volunteers from the various organisations. 
 
Three teams led by Christchurch City Council Rangers counted the sections of the lake located within the city boundary – from the Halswell River towards Kaituna and along Kaitorete Spit. The other teams covered the remainder of the lake margin which is in the Selwyn District.

The count is a snapshot of the birds present on a specific day and for the species which occur in large numbers such as the ducks and geese, the numbers are estimated by experienced counters.

The total number of birds recorded is slightly down on last year, with just over 55,000, compared with around 55,700 in 2013. The numbers of waterfowl were down with just under 42,000 this year compared with around 
45,000 in 2013. However, the numbers of waders were up with over 7300 recorded, compared with around 6100 in 2013.
Also notable is that 45 species were recorded in 2014 compared with only 39 in 2013. This year’s count recorded many more Arctic migratory species, e.g. greenshank and sanderling that were not seen in 2013.

With the very low lake level, the habitat for birds was of variable quality with some areas of the lake edge too dry. However, the lake edge is extensive and the habitat was very good in places leading to a redistribution of birds around the lake.
 
Overall the bird numbers seem stable.

This copy courtesy of BirdingNZ, and Peter Russell. See www.birdingnz.net
More information on the count is published on the WET (Waihora Ellesmere Trust) website. www.wet.org.nz, but count totals were as follows:
 
Aust Crested Grebe  
Black Cormorant
Pied Cormorant 
Little Cormorant
Spotted Shag 
White-faced Heron  
White Heron 
Royal Spoonbill  
Mute Swan  
Black Swan  
Canada Goose  
Feral (greylag) Goose  
Paradise Shelduck  
Mallard/Grey Duck  
Grey Teal  
NZ Shoveler  
Shoveler/G Teal  
NZ Scaup  
duck sp.  
Australasian Harrier  
Pukeko  
SIPO  
VOC  
3
615
240
51
4
92
3
871
14
7473
3777
443
5148
5173
12504
5893
780
12
696
67
97
17
2
 

 

 
Spur-winged Plover
Pacific Golden Plover Wrybill 
Banded Dotterel 
Bar-tailed Godwit 
Red Knot 
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper  Pectoral Sandpiper  Curlew Sandpiper 
Red-necked Stint  Sanderling 
Common Greenshank  Pied Stilt 
Black Stilt 
Black-backed Gull 
Red-billed Gull 
Black-billed Gull 
Black-fronted Tern  Caspian Tern 
Gull-billed Tern 
White-fronted Tern 
NZ kingfisher  
328
45
243
1496
120
44
18
6
18
44
2
1
4959
2
691
38
2359
61
386
16
175
6
 

 

 

 

 

 

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