Better breeding habitats help endangered bird

A five-year programme is well underway to help protect the endangered black-fronted tern.

The endangered black-fronted tern is only found in New Zealand and only breeds in braided rivers, like the Clarence River/Waiau Toa.

The Kaikōura water zone committee has been working with Environment Canterbury and the Department of Conservation on weed and pest eradication to protect its habitat.

Monitoring showed predators such as hedgehogs, casts, weasels, stoats and possums destroy nests and kill fledglings. Thick broom also pushes breeding terns off the islands and onto river banks where predators hunt and hide.

Earlier this year sections of a river channel were deepened to help water flow more freely around breeding islands to prevent predators from reaching the islands.

Mike Aviss of the Department of Conservation (DOC) said; “It is brilliant to see agencies and landowners pooling their knowledge and experience to protect bird habitats”.

John Murray, Clarence farmer and zone committee member, said he hopes by pulling together farmers to work with local government agencies he can be part of a generation that turns the tide on a 30-year spread of weeds.

Follow up survey flights have shown that the programme has been effective, which will reduce on-going costs for land owners.