Thursday, February 21, 2013

Count that kererū!

NatureWatch NZ is joining forces this year with Forest & Bird's Kiwi Conservation Club, Kererū Discovery and Banks Peninsula's Kaupapa Kererū, to count as many kererū (New Zealand wood pigeons) as we can. We're asking everyone (and that means you!) to get out and look for kererū from 24 February to 4 March this year. And you don't need to stop. By all means keep on counting afterwards.

Why count kererū?
Because they big, beautiful, iconic birds that are declining in numbers in parts of New Zealand. We need to know more about where they are doing well and where they are not, and why, to better understand how to look after them. Plus, they are really important as dispersers of our largest-seeded native trees, and of long-standing cultural importance to Maori (and admired by New Zealanders generally). Together, we can collect the observations needed to keep a close eye on New Zealand's kererū.

Do you want to keep it simple?
When you join this year's kererū count, you've got a couple of options. If you like to keep things nice and simple, but just a little bit less useful, you can jump straight to Forest & Bird's Kiwi Conservation Club kererū count webpage. This site is targeted at kids and asks for everyone to note down when and where they see kererū, how many they see, and what the birds were doing. All their counts are archived later on NatureWatch NZ using just the first name of each observer (you can explore all the 2011 counts in the NatureWatch NZ project, Count that kererū!.

Or, you can make your counts even more useful
If you would like to add some more details to your counts, including photos of the birds or the plants they were feeding on, you should add your observations straight to NatureWatch NZ's Count that kererū! project, and, if you're on Banks Peninsula, to the Kaupapa Kererū Banks Peninsula Kereru Community Count project.

On these projects we encourage you to add the following tags and other details to your observations:
  • "observation type: casual" for when you see kererū while out doing other things.
  • "observation type: search" for when you count a kererū while out specifically looking for kererū
  • When you have specifically looked for kererū and not found any, please enter this as an observation with the tag "observation type: search" and the "Sought but not found" box checked. "Sought but not found" is in the "click for more details..." section when you add observations.
  • If you were out looking for kererū, please also note how long you were searching. It's most helpful to do this by adding duration to your observation's tags, e.g., "duration: 30min"
  • If you were walking about rather than stationary, you can add a radius to your site on the map by adding a number in metres to Accuracy under "Where were you?".
(We're busy adding drop down lists and custom fields and other shiny things to NatureWatch NZ to make entering these details simpler in future, but unfortunately these won't quite be ready for the 2013 kererū count.)

Adding these extra details to your observations makes it much easier for scientists to figure out how our kererū populations are doing. Knowing whether or not you saw kererū when you were out looking for them is much more informative than just noting down where you see them. Why? Because it clearly shows us the places where kererū are absent or rarely seen. Otherwise, we don't know whether there are no kererū in an area or just that no kererū counter visited the area to look.

We also encourage you to add observations of the plants (fruit, flowers, or leaves) that you see kererū feeding on. You can add these as separate observations to the Count that kererū! project too, after you have entered a kererū observation. You can turn on "ID Please" if you'd like help identifying the plants. All NatureWatch NZ webpage links are stable so you can copy and paste the web link (URL) from your plant observation webpage into the description of your kererū observation if you wish.

Happy counting!

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