Learn more about wetland birds
Nature Talks Tuesday, November 20: Wetland Birds in New Zealand
Wetlands — a general term for marshes, swamps, bogs and the wet margins of rivers, streams, lakes and estuaries — have been described as the environment’s kidneys.
They regulate nutrient levels by taking up excess nutrients from the waters that flow through them; filter out organic particulates including, in agricultural landscapes, faecal material; detoxify pollutants; sequester heavy metals; and control water flow. Apart from these functions, which improve the quality of water flowing out of them, they also serve as vital habitat for specialist plants, invertebrates, fish and birds.
New Zealand has lost proportionately more of its natural wetlands than almost any other country. Estimates of wetland extent prior to human settlement, based on assessments of landform, soils and the distribution of remaining wetlands, suggest that we have lost around 90 per cent of wetlands through them being drained and infilled for agricultural and urban development. Before human settlement, wetlands covered just under 2.5 million ha (9.2 per cent of the land), of which only around 250,000 ha survive today. Many of these remaining wetlands are still at risk of being drained or filled in, or being degraded by pollution and reduced water inflows due to upstream abstraction and commercial afforestation. Overall, our wetlands suffer from general neglect and ignorance of their biodiversity values and ecological functioning.
In the last Nature Talks presentation for 2018, Associate Professor Phil Battley from Massey University will explore what this loss and degradation means for wetland birds, focusing especially on the true swamp-dwellers — bittern, rails and crakes, fernbird — species that live nowhere else. What are the special characteristics of wetland birds and of their wetland habitats? Which species originally inhabited our wetlands, and which still survive, nationally and locally? What is their current status and what must be done to secure their future? The talk will be given in the Davis Lecture Theatre, Whanganui Regional Museum (Watt Street entrance), on Tuesday, November 20, starting at 7.30pm.
Nature Talks is a series of monthly talks offered by three local environmental groups — the Whanganui Museum Botanical Group, the Whanganui branch of Forest & Bird, and Birds New Zealand (Whanganui Region), in conjunction with the Whanganui Regional Museum — on topics related to New Zealand’s environment and natural history, and their conservation. The talks are normally held on the third Tuesday of each month. The talks are free although a gold coin koha is always appreciated from those who can afford it.
This little egret is an occasional visitor to New Zealand from Australia. Some of the vagrant species, over time end up breeding here, but not this species, so far.
The New Zealand dabchick is a characteristic species of the now much-diminished dune lakes that were once widespread on the Manawatu¯ -Whanganui coastal plain.