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