Sightings of kereru soar, survey shows

A kereru gorges on elm seed cases near the Dunedin Botanic Garden. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
A kereru gorges on elm seed cases near the Dunedin Botanic Garden. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
A big increase in kereru sightings has boosted Dunedin’s standing as the wildlife capital of New Zealand, City Sanctuary engagement facilitator Kimberley Collins says.

Kimberley Collins
Kimberley Collins
The Dunedin City Council-funded City Sanctuary programme is part of the wider Predatory-Free Dunedin initiative, and aims to cut the number of predators within the city and encourage more planting of native trees.

The Great Kereru Count, a national citizen science exercise undertaken between September 18 and 27, has made more than 10,279 observations of 21,509 wood pigeons, well up on 6700 observations and 14,248 kereru last year.

"The results are in and Dunedin has done an outstanding job," Ms Collins said yesterday.

Dunedin residents had made 1080 observations, up 250% on last year’s total of 309.

And the number of kereru counted — 2613 — was up 200% on last year’s total of 867.

"We did really well at a national level, coming in second, after Auckland, for the highest number of observations and kereru," she said.

A rise in the number of observers and the number of observations had contributed to the increase in bird sightings in the city, but that also reflected a growing enthusiasm about the birds among city residents, she said.

Glenleith resident Lisa Yates also believes a strong presence of wood pigeons is contributing to the Dunedin’s wildlife capital image, and that the number in the city is rising.

On Monday this week she saw 14 kereru in a poplar tree in her garden and another kereru in a nearby tree.

She had never previously seen as many wood pigeons in one tree in her garden and she greatly enjoyed watching the birds.

"They are a spectacular bird, just the colours when the light hits them. They’ve got beautiful colours."

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