On February 22, 2014 – one of the hottest days of the summer – over 40 staff and volunteers from several organisations undertook a count of all the wetland birds present at the Lake.
Over 55,000 birds were counted – the results can be viewed here.
Some photos from the day are on our Facebook page.
Twelve teams each took a section of the lake margin. Each team included experienced OSNZ birders, supported by staff and volunteers from the Department of Conservation, Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury, Ngai Tahu, Fish & Game NZ, and Waihora Ellesmere Trust. A small team from Christchurch Rotoract provided support at Springston South Soldiers Memorial Hall.
Three teams led by Christchurch City Council Rangers counted the sections of the lake which are located within the city boundary – from the Halswell River towards Kaituna and along Kaitorete Spit. The other nine 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 on 2013 – just under 42,000 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.
Visit our 2013 bird survey page to compare the results of the two surveys.