Whakatipu Wildlife Trust’s away with the birds as it marks Parks Week this week.
It’s running two free beginners ‘birding’ courses — helping people identify native species and then using that knowledge to count them.
The first session was on Tuesday, in the Queenstown Gardens, while tomorrow’s course runs from 8 till 9.30am at Lake Hayes.
Local ecologist Dawn Palmer says the trust’s having great success with trapping predators — more than 3000 traps are being monitored by more than 70 groups of volunteers.
But she believes it’s just as important to upskill locals about recognising and counting native birds, since reintroducing native species, including insects and invertebrates, is the trapping programme’s ultimate goal.
Palmer says people are reporting more bird sightings, but while that could mean there are more birds around, she points out, thanks to Covid lockdowns, many people have started observing nature a bit more.
‘‘Birds are really easy to count and see, so they are a really good measure of, are we there yet? How are we doing?’’
Course-goers are introduced to two ‘‘really user-friendly apps you can download’’, to help with bird-spotting and counting.
Palmer says the courses are also a good fit for Parks Week ‘‘because it gets people out into the parks and enjoying wildlife in parks’’.
‘‘Not to mention, bird-watching is an activity in its own right — if, for nothing else, it’s a seriously-relaxing activity.’’
Some of the local native birds, she notes, are bellbirds, tui, fantails, yellow heads (mōhua), paradise shelducks, harriers and falcons, crested grebes and the native diving duck, the scaup.
To register for tomorrow’s course, email [email protected]