Sunday, February 25, 2024

Bird-spotting volunteers needed for feathered headcount

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Pest Free Howick Ward needs volunteers to take part in its annual bird count weekend in March. Times photo Wayne Martin
  • By Josie Lu, Journalism Student Intern

Eagle-eyed locals are needed to help gather vital data on New Zealand’s feathered wildlife.

Pest Free Howick Ward’s annual bird count weekend is scheduled to take place on March 4-5 across various public reserves in east Auckland.

Residents keen to help will be asked to head to their local reserve and record the number of birds they observe, which will help inform Pest Free Howick Ward about the effects of its bio-security work.

Pest Free Howick Ward conservation assistant Daria Erastova is organising the event.

She’ll be taking a trainee group of 15 people to a any participants who’d like guidance throughout the process.

Others can conduct the activity independently after registering with Erastova, who will send details about local areas of interest.

Although the event is scheduled for 7-10am each day, she says residents can start as early as they want. However, it will be harder and less productive to count birds after 11am.

The event is suitable for anyone interested in taking part, aside from very young children who may be noisy or find it difficult to stay focused, and pets should also be left at home.

“Anyone who’s interested in birds and who can use a pair of binoculars can participate”, Erastova says.

“This event is important because it collects data that later can be used by scientists and environmental advisors to develop and implement conservation actions in the Howick area.

“It also helps us secure funds for all the important things that we do like pest control, weeding and habitat restoration.”

People who take part should wear comfortable footwear, clothing suitable for the outdoors and bring water, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat in case of sunny weather.

Binoculars will be provided for the trainee group but individual participants need to bring their own.

For anyone unsure about their bird counting abilities, Erastova still encourages participation.

“First, you’ll never learn until you try, and second, every bit of information counts, so be brave, go out.

“It’s easier than you think and we appreciate any information.”

For more information or to register for the event, contact Daria Erastova at

Updates will also be posted on Pest Free Howick Ward’s Facebook page.

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