Where are the birds?

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
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Steps
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Where are the birds?

Postby Steps » Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:39 am

Wife and I have just returned from a 9 day road trip around the east cape , up into the Ureweras.
We threw the tent and stuff in the back of the 4x4 truck so totally independent and stopped where we wanted.
Around the coast, where are the flocks of sea birds, gulls and black gulls?...sure had insects around the tent, a few here and there...
And the land bird life, on the coast and inland upto to the Ureweras..

We live in a town on the borders of southern Auckland.. a few trees staggered around at best.
We wake up to tui, have fan tails flitting around, the regular wood pidegen waffling past, wax eyes in the trees,.. Sparrows, thrushes, black birds, swallows .. all chirping away ..and the chirping of young in nests... a couple morepork way in the distance at night

We used to live bang in the middle of Manurewa 18 months ago.
A few trees around.. A flock of 1/2 doz tui ... occasional wood pidgen.. a morepork taken residence at night, 4 pair fan tails, thrushes and black birds...wax eyes and even a couple visits by a kaka, a flock rosella would pass thru morning and evening

Hit the remote wilds of the Nth island..
no tuis, 1 pair of wood pidgen, only a couple couple sparrows in the camping ground, couple thrush...few ducks, only 1 pair fan tails in the bush.. no morepork
And the silence was so silent it was disturbing.

Last time I was up in the Ureweras back in the early 70s , one had trouble hearing it was so noisy with birds at times.
Weka would come into the campsite...fan tails everywhere, tui, wood pidgen, bell birds , the odd kakariki with its machine gun call.. insects , good and bad everywhere...

And We hear about recovery of bird population...
Where these ppl who tell us about "recovery" actually born in the 70s , let alone walked or hunted our bush back then?
Recovery from what?
And it was alive populated even back in the 1920s thru to the 60s, into the 70s going on conservations to my parents, uncles, grand parents , and others, people who have long passed away...

What in the (sry here moderators) F**** has happened ?

Damn even the cycaders where few and far between.. as I type in my office back home they are far noisier

It was a great trip, even catching dinner on my boat soft bait rod off the beach...
but the silence of the bush everywhere was devastating
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Jan
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Re: Where are the birds?

Postby Jan » Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:25 pm

Hi Steps, it might be the time of year. Birds are really quiet around Chch now and in over 2 hrs with nets up in Halswell Quarry Park recently we only got about 6 catches, mostly juvenile sparrows. Far lower than a usual catch. It may have to do with how much predator control is going on where you went as well but most birds have finished breeding now and are moulting, skulking in the undergrowth, itching and preening.
Jim_j
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Re: Where are the birds?

Postby Jim_j » Wed Feb 19, 2020 2:51 pm

Hi Steps

Had a similar experience in the South Island before Christmas in the Pelorus Valley at the back of Nelson - birdlife almost non-existent.
I suspect the mouse/rat/stoat plagues were responsible - apart from around the campground no pest control in this area.
Tended to be similar further South when I was in the Longwood/Takitimus - again no pest control in these areas....
More birds and variety in our suburban Wellington neighbourhood

However I was in Whirinaki (not to far from where you were) between Xmas/New Year- what a difference - sure not the great dawn chorus of days gone by - but at least bird song and a good variety and numbers from kaka to rifleman.
The difference - well yes it is a quite different forest type - but there were pest traps all along the tracks and a 1080 drop had occurred a few weeks before..

Cheers
Jim
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philbattley
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Re: Where are the birds?

Postby philbattley » Wed Feb 19, 2020 8:02 pm

I don't think the Ureweras get any large-scale 1080 control so it's likely that the birdlife there is nothing like it could be. There is a huge dropoff at the moment in the conspicuousness of introduced birds, but are native species any less obvious or vocal now than earlier in the season? I'm not sure.

Jan wrote:Hi Steps, it might be the time of year. Birds are really quiet around Chch now and in over 2 hrs with nets up in Halswell Quarry Park recently we only got about 6 catches, mostly juvenile sparrows. Far lower than a usual catch. It may have to do with how much predator control is going on where you went as well but most birds have finished breeding now and are moulting, skulking in the undergrowth, itching and preening.
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Neil Fitzgerald
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Re: Where are the birds?

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:40 am

I usually expect natives to be less conspicuous over late summer - moulting, and probably struggling a bit in the dry. I feel like the tomtits and bellbirds might now be starting to make a bit more noise though. However, I would not be at all surprised if what you have seen (or not seen) is a true reflection of the ongoing decline of recently common birds in many big chunks of NZ. The huge lack of pest mammal control, as Phil suggested. This is what people who claim we should just accept pests in the bush because they are now in 'balance' don't understand.
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Steps
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Re: Where are the birds?

Postby Steps » Sun Feb 23, 2020 8:50 am

It was the intensity , of lack, that was so noticeable..
We are in Drought Sth Auckland/ Nth Waikato, tank MT, yet come morning and evening in town and rural around the area, tuis , wood pidgens, sparrows, thrush , blackbirds..come bouncing to life... and even present during the day
Hit East cape ( quite a few nights camping different spots), around thru the urewareas (camping again) yep steams that dont dry up dried up..but the bush ok and cooler ...
Quiet.. no birds or insects..
I have off and on spent many decades in the bush.. even thru the droughts of the late 60s/ early 70s...never not seen and not heard anything like this.

Do a LOT of boat fishing, and good at it.. and have noticed huge reduction in sea birds off the back of the boat.. flocks number in 10s not 100s now the norm. Fish boil ups tiny.. sq meters , not cover many acres any more.
Thu was nice to be able to thru the boat soft bait rod/line off the sea beach, not even get feet wet, and pull in dinner .. that was a 1st.

I sort of struggle with modern ' recovery ' concepts...it seems so many who talk about the recovery have absolutely no concept of what things where like in the 50s, 60s... maybe cause they where not born then ??
Things seemed to start drop back in the late 70s, more in the 80s and 90s..then in the last decade or so..
On the other hand fish, rec fishermen complain..compare today with early70s thru into 90s and today is if cant catch a feed , you dont know how to. Now as back pre 70s.. 5% of rec fishermen caught 95% of the rec take.

Just putting things in perspective.
The bird thing.. scarry quiet.. very so.
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Jim_j
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Re: Where are the birds?

Postby Jim_j » Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:18 pm

Yep the term recovery is open to interpretation.

I think we can all accept that things are never (in human terms...) going back to what they were - the damage has been done.
If you look at Recovery for say Kakapo, Stichbird, Shore Plover well yeah - but from just about none to just a bit more over none!!
Outside a few islands & well managed mainland sites then going backwards still for just about everything else.

A bit depressing but you've got to keep plugging away - not much other choice.

It's a bit like Global Warming - for some reason people just turn off to all the bad news - you have to throw in some good news stories and a bit of hope if you want to get anywhere (he said wishing we were actually getting anywhere..)

cheers
jim

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