Look out for our at risk gulls

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The colony of black-billed gulls who nest on the banks of the Ashburton river has become more important since the sudden collapse of a black-billed gull / tarāpuka colony in the
upper Waimakariri River.

It’s thought a dog attack prompted around 500 of of the ‘at risk’ gulls to abandon their nesting site near Woodstock, west of Oxford in North Canterbury.

This was a massive blow to the local ecology and community – and a sobering reminder of the fragility of braided river birds.

The Ashburton gulls are favouring a mound on the east side of the Ashburton bridge created by Fulton Hogan when it was repairing the bridge after the May floods last year.

Black-billed gulls and their chicks are nesting in the riverbed near the Ashburton bridge.

The birds nesting on the mound have chicks, the birds nesting on the river bank are incubating.

Over the last few months there have been a couple of freshes (increased water flow) which washed out some nests.

But the black-billed gulls are known for their resilience and they keep trying.

Until recently, the species was categorised as ‘Threatened – Nationally
Critical’, and was widely considered the most threatened gull in the world.

Following more accurate surveys, the gulls status has now been deemed At Risk – Declining.

~ By Daniel Tobin