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  • Writer's pictureTim Higham

Bird Count shows importance of Tū Mai Taonga work

Updated: May 16, 2023

Analysis of the island-wide Aotea Bird Count carried out every year on the first weekend in December highlights the importance of increased predator control in the Te Paparahi area.

The rugged 4500 ha forest block in the island’s north recorded the lowest number of birds seen and heard of any of the 18 bird count sites around the island, with just 62 heard in five minutes, compared to 309 at Windy Hill. The number of species recorded was also the lowest, equal to Cooper’s Castle, with seven species compared to 24 at Medlands.

Windy Hill sanctuary has been carrying out intensive predator control since 2000 and Medlands benefits from trapping by the Ōruawharo Medlands Ecovision community group and feral cat control by Auckland Council.

The Tū Mai Taonga project will begin feral cat eradication in Te Paparahi this summer and increase rat control . Te Paparahi is of cultural significance to Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea and the chair of the Tū Mai Taonga Project Steering Committee Opo Ngawaka says restoration of the area is long overdue.

“Until now predator control has been piecemeal,” he says. “People are seeing more birds around settled areas because of trapping efforts by the community and sanctuaries, but in remote areas the bush is silent.”

Overall, the 2021 Aotea Bird Count found kākā, tūī, kōtare (kingfisher), riroriro (grey warbler), and piwakawaka (fantail) were the most frequently observed birds. Rat sensitive kākāriki were observed at Okiwi, where long-term rat control continues, and for the first time at Glenfern Sanctuary.

New five-minute bird count sample points will be added in Te Paparahi for the December 2022 bird survey to help monitor species abundance and response to pest management interventions and pressures.

Tū Mai Taonga is proceeding under the leadership, guiding vision, and Tikanga of Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea and is funded by Auckland Council and the Jobs for Nature - Mahi mō te Taiao programme, through Predator Free 2050 Limited and the Department of Conservation.

The Aotea Bird Count is coordinated by the Aotea Great Barrier Environmental Trust, with funding from Auckland Council and the Aotea Great Barrier Local Board and the support of Windy Hill, Glenfern, Motu Kaikoura, and community conservation projects.

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