Ma­pua band­ing to­gether to save birds

The Leader (Tasman) - - OUT & ABOUT - JONATHAN CAR­SON

The small com­mu­nity of Ma­pua is mak­ing mas­sive progress in its mis­sion to re­store the habi­tat of an at-risk bird.

Bat­tle for the Banded Rail, a com­mu­nity en­vi­ron­men­tal project, has started weekly treeplant­ings around the Waimea es­tu­ary over win­ter.

It’s all part of a goal to see the banded rail (moho pereru) re­turn to the es­tu­ary in greater num­bers.

Bat­tle for the Banded Rail co­or­di­na­tor Kathryn Brown­lie said in­volv­ing the com­mu­nity in the restora­tion of the es­tu­ar­ine habi­tat has been es­sen­tial to the project’s suc­cess.

‘‘The com­mu­nity is start­ing to take own­er­ship of their es­tu­ary.’’

Banded rail were com­mon in the area 30 years ago, but were now an at-risk and de­clin­ing species.

‘‘The Waimea es­tu­ary has changed dra­mat­i­cally over the last 200 years and the type of habi­tat favoured by banded rail has been de­clin­ing as agri­cul­ture, devel­op­ment and pop­u­la­tion pres­sure have im­pacted on the frag­ile rush land and es­tu­ary mar­gins.’’

The project, which started in 2014, has been work­ing to re­store eight sites, in­clud­ing Hoddy Es­tu­ary Park and Re­search Or­chard Road Re­serve.

In that time, about 11,000 plants have been planted along the Waimea es­tu­ary by com­mu­nity vol­un­teers.

Preda­tor trap­ping is car­ried out year round, with 52 vol­un­teers check­ing each trap at least once a month.

There are a to­tal of 564 traps mak­ing up around 50 kilo­me­tres of trap lines along the es­tu­ary mar­gin from Ma­pua to Pearl Creek and about 1km in­land as a buf­fer.

Brown­lie said 880 preda­tors have been killed in the last 12 months, of which 70 per cent were rats.

She said that the plant­ing and weed­ing days have be­come as much a so­cial oc­ca­sion as an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment.

What is the banded rail?

The banded rail (moho pereru) are sim­i­lar to a weka, but not as large. They are usu­ally quite shy but may be­come very tame and bold.

Banded rails have de­clined sig­nif­i­cantly since hu­mans be­gan drain­ing wet­lands.

They are a po­ten­tial in­di­ca­tor of wet­land health be­cause they are de­pen­dent on the pres­ence of high qual­ity and eco­log­i­cally di­verse habi­tats and rich food sup­plies.

PHOTO: KATHRYN BROWN­LIE

Hawea Austin and Keryn Mc­Der­mott help out at a treeplant­ing day as part of the Bat­tle for the Banded Rail project.

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