Photo-a-day retirement

By mpp26

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Black billed gull making a huge fuss about nothing! Christchurch New Zealand.

Black-billed Gulls are the most threatened of our gull species. They nest predominantly on gravel river beds or shingle coastline. Black-billed gulls have a long breeding season, stretching for perhaps 3-4 months from choosing of a site to its abandonment. This increases the chances of predation at the colonies by stoats, rats, ferrets or humans, as well as increasing the chance of flooding at a colony.

About half to three quarters of the world population of Black-billed gulls (they are endemic to New Zealand) nests on the river beds of the Southland region - the 4 major rivers being Waiau, Aparima, Oreti and Mataura. Southland ornithologists are keeping a close eye on these birds. Flights up these rivers in November determine the position of colonies and photographs taken from the plane allow the numbers of birds to be counted with incredible accuracy. From there, ground visits to colonies can be undertaken to band birds or make general observations.

Black-billed gull colonies can range from 50 birds right up to 40 000+. Large colonies occurred frequently in the past but recently there have been very few. Colonies are noisy places, with all the gulls screeching in an attempt to ward off intruders from their territory.

Black-billed gulls are banded throughout the country. There is a special study being undertaken in Southland of breeding colonies.

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