Kererū Discovery One News Interview

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‘The injuries are horrific’ – Kereru dying in big numbers on Wellington highway

Sadly known as “flying pillows”, kereru are being killed along a stretch of State Highway Two near Wellington.

Nearby trees are proving irresistible to the kereru birds. Source: 1 NEWS

In August every year, the protected and native birds swoop down from the nearby hills to eat the green shoots off the Lucerne trees planted along the road and get hit by cars.

Tony Stoddard (Kererū Discovery) is now fighting the Greater Wellington Regional Council to get the trees removed.

Last year, he found more than 17 dead kereru on the side of the road – five in one day.

“What happens is they hit the cars and they just explode… with feathers everywhere,” Mr Stoddard said.

“You’re in a 100k/h zone and there’s just no way for even a car to avoid them.”

He says it’s a heartbreaking mission to remove the dead birds, but he can’t stand letting them stay on the road.

“The injuries are completely horrific. Everything you can imagine from burst crop to smashed wings and legs, internal lacerations of the heart.”

The council says it is aware of the problem and is working on a solution, which it says may or may not result in the removal of the trees.

However, Tony Stoddard says time is running out before the kereru swoop again.

“We’re just going to go through the same scenario again and right from day one we’ll start to see casualties of kereru dead on the side of the road.”

Birds eye view – photo exhibition

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Wellington wildlife photographer Tony Stoddard’s new photo exhibition:

Birds Eye View – Portraits of New Zealand Birds

This latest exhibition brings you eye to eye with some of New Zealand’s endemic and native birds

Birds Eye View – Portraits of New Zealand Birds

The exhibition runs from 2nd March to 2nd April (Now extended until mid-May 2018)

Woolstore Design Centre
Level 1, 262 Thorndon Quay,
Pipitea, Wellington 6011

Each of the nine selected photos comes as a limited edition of 6
Printed on 310gsm Ilford smooth cotton rag paper – Framed with custom matt.

Tui / tūī – Limited Edition of 6

Morepork / ruru – Limited Edition of 6

Bellbird / korimako – Limited Edition of 6
Almost – SOLD OUT / Only one left

Pied Shags / kāruhiruhi – Limited Edition of 6
Almost – SOLD OUT

Stitchbird / hihi – Limited Edition of 6
Only 3 left

Red-crowned parakeet/ kākāriki – Limited Edition of 6
Only 3 left

Shining cuckoo/ pīpīwharauroa – Limited Edition of 6
Only 3 left

North Island kaka / kākā – Limited Edition of 6
Only 4 left

North Island robin / toutouwai – Limited Edition of 6
Only 5 left

World’s first official kererū road safety signs installed

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World’s first official kererū road safety signs installed

In an effort to make our streets safer and reduce cars killing kererū, Wellington City Council has installed “Slow for kererū” road signs at key locations around Zealandia and Otari Wiltons Bush.

Both of these natural areas are home to many of these big birds which are now often found feeding and flapping around busy roads. Kererū numbers in Wellington are on the increase across the city, but so is bird mortality.

This partnership project between the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), Kererū Discovery NZ and Wellington City Council aims to increase awareness, and encourage drivers to slow down to avoid hitting kererū. The desire for the project came from Tony Stoddard at Kererū Discovery. Tony says he knows of at least 30 birds hit and killed by cars over the last year in the Wellington region.

“When taking off kererū often take a while to get elevation and so are at risk of being hit by cars, especially where there is vegetation close to the ground that they are feeding on. It is heartbreaking to pick up dead birds from the roadside.”

Wellington City Councillor Andy Foster says, “Tony got in touch about the problem in July. I quickly found there was no officially gazetted kererū road sign in New Zealand, so the Council Transport team and NZTA did a fantastic and amazingly quick job designing and then legally gazetting these signs, which can now be officially used across the country. We just want drivers to be aware and to slow down a bit. Nobody wants to kill one of these wonderful birds, and slowing down in these areas will be good for human safety too.”

Tony, who also manages the annual Great Kererū Count says, “It is wonderful seeing more and more kererū in Wellington. In September this year, a total of 3804 kererū were counted from 1921 observations in Wellington City.

“That doesn’t mean 3804 separate birds, but this was the highest level of community involvement in the country, and in doing this Wellingtonians are helping to get a better understanding of kererū numbers and distribution across New Zealand.”

New Zealand Transport Agency’s Director of Regional Relationships Emma Speight says it’s great to be able to join forces with the Wellington City Council and help efforts to protect and grow the kererū population. “The signs will increase driver awareness and help keep the kererū safe,” says Emma.

Councillor Foster, Wellington City Councils Predator Free Wellington portfolio leader says, “Habitat for kererū and other native birds in Wellington is improving all the time with land protection, active and passive regeneration and increasingly intensive predator control across the cities reserves and backyards. It is just fantastic that Wellingtonians care so much about the natural environment and are getting actively involved in restoring it. In a way, these kererū signs are also a little symbol of our collective progress in that restoration journey.”

The 2017 Great Kererū Count – Results

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The 2017 Great Kererū Count


Kererū observations


Kererū counted

The GKC team asked needs New Zealanders across the county to keep their eyes on the skies to help build up a comprehensive picture of where our native pigeon is – and isn’t – found.

As of now, across New Zealand, there have been 6,946 observations and 15,459 kererū counted. Final national numbers are still being analysed.

We’re thrilled that so many people from across the country joined the Count this year with observations coming in from across New Zealand from the far north to the deep south.

Most 2017 kererū sightings were recorded in Wellington, Auckland, Nelson/Tasman and Dunedin. A new kererū hotspot this year was Dunedin. Good numbers came in from Waiheke Island, Whangarei, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, West Coast and Christchurch. There were observations from areas including Bluff, Codfish Island, Stewart Island, Te Anau in Fiordland and Maungataniwha Forest in Northland. One of the furthest north observations was made in Kaitaia in the Far North.

As part of GKC 2017, Landcare Research is hosting a national Kererū Photographic Competition closing 22 October. Great prizes include a kererū shelf from Ian Blackwell, Topflite seed bells, a nectar feeder and predator control tools. Entries are welcome via the Kereru Discovery Facebook page, and on Instagram and Twitter (#GKCPhotoComp).

The GKC is a partnership between WWF-New Zealand, Kererū Discovery, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington City Council, and NatureWatch NZ and supported by regional councils and environmental groups throughout New Zealand.

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