Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Video production about conservation of bittern in NZ

Bittern on utube movie production

produced by Martin Langlands for the 2010 biodiversity utube movie competition.
Thanks Martin

The Matuku is a native bird living in New Zealand's wetlands, a bird in great danger of extinction indicative of the poor state and destruction of our once pristine wetland ecologies - However there is hope , all people's of Aotearoa need to act. Images are by Peter langlands and original music-video by Martin Langlands

Basking sharks- now functionally extinct from NZ's inshore waters ?

This article is in progress. It appears that basking sharks are hardly ever sighted in our inshore waters. Quite possibly causalities of fishing by-catch and also the high market value of their fins. A sad loss of a once common sight in our coastal waters up until 1995. Recent aerial surveys by the Department of Conservation and nation wide requests for information have failed to find any. In the International year of Biodiversity we have to be aware of such issues.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Concern about increasing numbers of Black backed gulls

I am concerned about the increasing numbers of black-backed gulls and the impact that they are having on a wide range of native birds through direct predation, disturbance and klepto-parasitism.
Photogarph shows attempted klepto-parasitism of a adult Caspian tern by a juvenile Black-backed gull at Avon-Heathcote estuary - august 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Concerns about the conservation of white-fronted terns

White-fronted terns, sea swallows, in decline.

Peter Langlands

As fisherman and boaties many of us are familiar with white-fronted terns. These agile and majestic seabirds are often visual markers of good spots to go fishing. Often when predatory fish like kahawai chase baitfish towards the surface, terns can be seen hovering in flocks above the kahawai marking out a good spot to go fishing.

Sadly recent observations, especially in Northland, but also from other locations suggest that numbers of these iconic coastal birds are declining. Of particular concern is the low numbers of young terns which are been sighted in recent years, suggesting that on the mainland of both islands terns are failing to breed successfully in many places. One factor is disturbance to colonies by four wheel drives, dogs and recreational uses along our coastlines. Fortunately terns also breed on offshore rock stacks, which offer an insurance policy for the species’ survival.

While white-fronted terns are a common sight, and the birds with their white plumage are often visible over large distances, it’s quite likely that we have an ageing population of birds. Terns are generally long-lived with records of marked birds reaching 30 years.

While overall the white-fronted tern only breeds in significant numbers in New Zealand, every autumn a proportion of young terns fly across the Tasman to feed along coastal waters in south eastern Australia. The young birds often suffer high mortality on this Trans Tasman flight. Why they do it not one knows for sure.

What is known is that white-fronted terns are declining and the decline is most pronounced in Northern regions. The Department of Conservation and community groups need to take more active role in monitoring this species and educating the public, including fisherman, about how to minimise disturbance around breeding colonies.

Sadly there is little research into white-fronted tern populations and for many this is a concern. Our coastal waters would seem very empty without the flocks of terns that we can still see, often in company with gannets and shearwaters. White fronted tern or as they are otherwise known Tara or sea swallows are without a doubt our most graceful seabird.


1. It is easy to see why terns are nick-named “sea swallows”- our most graceful seabird, but one in which we cannot take for granted as populations decline in many coastal regions, with a 1997 estimate of only 15,000 pairs.