It’s not about the number of pests you remove from the environment, it is how well the native flora and fauna is recovering. And that can be quite hard to monitor! Apart from anecdotal reports from locals that they see more birds (which is great!) or have seen a pateke or matuku for the first time in twenty years (which is even better!), how do we know if that isn’t just a coincidence? We do surveys. Official surveys with important looking people with clipboards and binoculars who will walk a certain gridline at a certain time of the year. They will be able to tell you which bird they heard, how many responded to playback (puweto for instance). These surveys usually take place on one day once or twice a year. They are a snapshot in time. But how do you survey cryptic species with huge home ranges in the middle of a wetland, like matuku (bittern)? You do place recorders for two weeks a year, and analyze which birds they’ve recorded.
At Matuku Link and adjoining Habitat te Henga we’ve done this ‘survey-by-recording’ several four times, each one or two years apart. A company aptly called SoundCounts has the specialized recording equipment that can withstand a storm or a flood, but also picks up the quietest of birdsong. See below the results since 2016.
The absence of puweto (spotless crake) might be due to the storm and flood that hit the wetland (and most of Kumeu) on the 31st of August last year. Other bird observers in the Waitakere Valley also commented that they didn’t hear puweto in their usual spots either. Let’s hope they will come back!
If you like the full report, you can download it here.
A special thank you to the Waitakere Ranges Local Board and Auckland Council for funding this ongoing survey!
Image: puweto by Jacqui Geux