Bringing back our birds


I often enjoy watching tui swooping from the Town Belt onto the flax bushes beside the Monastery zigzag. Their white throat tufts catch the sun as they search for nectar – no wonder the early settlers called them parson birds after the ‘clerical collar’ on their necks.

Occasionally I see fantails darting amongst the trees on the edge of the Town Belt, flicking those fluted tails back and forth. But my greatest joy remains the young kingfisher that sat still on the wires that stretch alongside my apartment, while I took a photograph. Although I resent Saturn’s wires that cut across the otherwise-lovely view of the harbour, at least they provide perches for the birds.

What a lot of thanks we should give to Zealandia and the Predator Free Wellington movement for bringing our birds back, even in suburbs near the city centre like Oriental Bay. A 2017 Wildlife Management International survey of bird populations in Wellington City found tui had increased threefold from 2011 to 2016 while kaka and kereru showed similar improvements over the same time. I haven’t yet seen a kaka near where I live – a treat in store, hopefully.

The wildlife sanctuary’s project began in 1995 when the Karori facility became the world’s first full-fenced eco-sanctuary (in 1999) and home to a multitude of native species. That spawned the Predator Free Wellington movement which aims, in the next 10 years, to have the capital free of pests – rats, possums, stoats, weasels, ferrets and hedgehogs.

Pest-free groups now exist in 25 Wellington suburbs. There are about 40 volunteer groups working in public reserves and some 5000 traps in reserve and backyard areas. A $3.27 million funding boost to Predator Free Wellington and Capital Kiwi over five years was announced by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage in August of this year.

— Judith Doyle, Bay View newsletter 72, November 2018