Rees Bird Count

8 November 2023

In November 2023 we completed our fourth bird count on the Rees River. We spotted all the species we expected to see (results below) but there was one that had only ever been counted on one previous survey... the gorgeous little wrybill/Ngutu pare. This braided river bird is a small species of plover with an unusually curved bill and only breeds in the South Island of New Zealand. They are very vulnerable to predation, therefore are one of our target species to protect under the RDWT Braided River Project - a network of 600 traps surrounding the river network which aim to suppress numbers of rats and stoats. The crew were determined to find at least another wrybill this year.

We were within our last few km's when suddenly something shot up the bank at full pelt. Was it a dotterel? No, it's behaving differently and appears to be a lot better camouflaged.. 'stay still!'... 'is that.. a wrybill?!'. Sure enough, it stopped long enough for us to really see that curved bill and plumage whilst having a drink a few meters away. The radios were going off with excited chitchat between the crew and we all stopped to observe the little bird for a while. Not even 30 meters further up, another one was spotted! Then a third, fourth and fifth! Finally a sixth flew past a short while after and the crew were ecstatic.

With all the predator control work being carried out as a collective between the groups, things like this will always feel like a win. Whether those wins are big or small, it's always a great reminder of the why behind this work. With severe flooding events on the increase and more booms in pest numbers following increasingly frequent beech masts, we really hope to continue doing our bit in making these braided rivers are a safer place for these precious species to thrive.


Photo of wrybill by: Laurie Ross

river survey