Community efforts protect bird wildlife
19 April, 2022
Pest trapping is a relatively new activity for Caroline Elliott.
During the first lockdown in April 2020 she’d walk to Ashworths Beach with her dog Ed, and noticing the fencing was down around the bird nesting areas with tyre marks from vehicles, she realised she had to do something.
Caroline and her husband Jeff took it upon themselves to fix them, subsequently deciding to take the bird restoration ambitions one step further.
They bought a couple of traps to catch mainly stoats, rats and hedgehogs, and informed the Department of Conservation and Environment Canterbury what they were doing.
They joined Trap NZ, an ap on a smart phone to register traps and see where others are.
By getting the word out there, they now have 15 traps set up in the area, two volunteers and one person to help with the administration.
Banded Dotterel and the Pied Stilts are the two main birds that visit the wetland and coastal area, and documenting a change in population has been somewhat hard so far because the last two years have been very wet or dry with not much in between. But evidence in the traps shows there are fewer predators threatening the populations, and the wetlands are certainly thriving on no vehicle disruption.
“By getting the word out there about the traps laid around the Ashworths Beach area, we were able to learn about nearby trap lines, and where the gaps are,” said Caroline.
Caroline and her family and pets have lived in the area for 30 years, and visiting Ashworths Beach has been a regular activity for the majority of them.
“Before lockdown I’d never been involved with things like this. I just used to like walking the dogs, running, hiking and paddling at the beach.”
Her goal is seeing enhanced birdlife on the beach and wetland areas from south of Ashworths Beach where it coincides with the Hurunui/Waimakariri boundary southwards towards the Ashley/Rakahuri River, and up to the rocks at northern end of Pegasus Bay where it meets Teviot Hills.
“I’d like to see that whole area and environment improved, and the bird life protected with populations maintained.”
Pupils at Amberley School are in the middle of a project to make 20 more traps for Caroline’s venture, and a Coast Care group is to be discussed at an upcoming meeting which will bring together interested parties to band together and continue to enhance the area.
Rima Herber, Hurunui District Council’s Water and Land Coordinator, is assisting Caroline by getting some signs designed for the wetland areas, alerting passers-by of the bird nesting area.
Rima said the success of community projects like this to enhance our terrific pockets of nature in Hurunui are dependent on everyone doing their bit.
“Everyone likes to see bird life being protected and good numbers maintained, which takes dedication and time.”
Caroline said wildlife and coastal protection needs constant funding, and sponsorship to support this cause is always very well received.
“It’s about all working together for the greater good of our environment, so we can all enjoy it.”