Survey and monitoring

Wildlands staff are highly experienced in the development and implementation of appropriate avifauna survey and monitoring methods. We are proficient in an extensive range of survey methods, including the use of five-minute bird counts, distance sampling, kiwi and weka call counts, playback for cryptic species, blue duck surveys, aerial photography of bird colonies, acoustic monitoring devices, camera traps , and radio-tracking. Staff have monitored flight paths and heights, species displacement, nest occupancy, fledging success, and the effects of pest control operations, and have experience with monitoring burrowing seabird species and other colonial species. Staff have extensive banding experience with numerous species.

Black-billed gullsBlack-billed gullsWe have assessed bird communities from all key habitat types within New Zealand including wetlands, braided riverbeds, forests, scrub, coastal areas, lowland and alpine grasslands, and seabird communities on offshore islands. Wildlands has also developed guidelines for the rapid assessment of bird populations (and other fauna) for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, for use in BIORAPs throughout the Pacific.

Monitoring for Threatened and At Risk species has been undertaken nationwide for species such as New Zealand falcon, New Zealand dabchick, blue duck, braided river birds such as black-billed gull and black-fronted tern, fernbird, New Zealand pipit, kokako, great spotted kiwi, North Island brown kiwi, flesh-footed shearwater, Westland petrel, as well as cryptic species such as banded rail and Australasian bittern.

Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE)

Wildlands staff have undertaken avifauna assessments for a variety of developments including a seawall, marinas, river diversions, wind farms, mines, gravel extraction, raised lake levels, lowered water levels, hydroelectric power stations and canals, motor camps, oyster farms, industries which produce air emissions, the Rena shipwreck, Rotorua’s floating wetland, a water ski lane, and clearance of mangroves. We provide advice for the avoidance, remediation, and mitigation of adverse ecological effects on avifauna values.

RMA, Hearings, and Environment Court

Wildlands staff have undertaken reviews of avifauna management plans and consent conditions relating to avifauna for several RMA consent applications. A review of Regional Plan rule provisions relating to avifauna has also been undertaken. Many of the AEE projects we have worked on require appearing as an expert witness at council hearings and Environment Court.

Data Analysis and Modelling

Wildlands staff are proficient in the use of statistical modelling and analysis methods and software including ‘R’. Previous work includes the statistical analysis of large avifauna datasets, including 50 years of South Island counts of the Nationally Critical black-billed gull, occupancy modelling of bird count data from Waitutu Forest, Fiordland, analysis of trends from long-term monitoring of waterbirds at the Ohau Channel, Lake Rotoiti, and population modelling of threatened bird species.


Wildlands can help you with the restoration of avifauna habitat, including the identification of suitable species and sites, and identifying requirements for nesting boxes and artificial burrows, and acoustic and decoy attraction. We design and implement predator (e.g. rat, possum, and mustelid) control operations, including pest-proof fences. Habitat enhancement plantings of indigenous tree and shrub species are tailored to the requirements of specific bird species. Preparation of strategic plans and management plans is our speciality.

Reviews of current management practice have been undertaken for several projects, including yellow-eyed penguin monitoring on Stewart Island, tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin) population trend monitoring in South Westland, Fiordland and on Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) 1990‑2008, and an analysis of the effectiveness of Operation Nest Egg.

Selected Projects

  • Review of yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho) monitoring on Stewart Island/Rakiura
  • Review of the assessment of ecological effects on avifauna of leaving the Rena wreck in situ at Astrolabe reef/Otaiti
  • Potential effects of moving the position of a ski lane on blue penguins, Little Kaiteriteri
  • Bird monitoring and habitat enhancement options for Bothamley Park, Porirua
  • Seabird re-establishment and habitat restoration at Long Point- Irahuka, Catlins
  • Development of avifauna objectives for the Dusky Sound Conservation and Restoration Plan
  • Monitoring of banded rail prior to mangrove clearance at Whangamata Harbour
  • Ecological significance criteria for indigenous vegetation and habitats of indigenous fauna in the Canterbury Region
  • Fernbird and pipit surveys on the Ashers-Waituna lignite field, Southland
  • Effects on avifauna of river channel management options for the Waiohine River, Wairarapa
  • Review of West Coast Regional Council’s Land and Water Plan rule provisions regarding wetland birds
  • Bird monitoring before, during, and after the construction of a diversion wall structure at Ohau Channel, Lake Rotoiti, Rotorua
  • Potential effects on birds resulting from construction of a new seawall on the margin of the Avon-Heathcote estuary
  • Development of avifauna objectives and indicators for the Abel Tasman National Park Ecological Restoration Strategy
  • South Island fernbird and New Zealand pipit monitoring at the proposed Slopedown Wind Farm, Southland
  • Monitoring plan for populations of indigenous avifauna, Waiouru Military Training Area
  • Manuherikia River bird survey, Central Otago
  • Bird survey of the Ashburton River North Branch
  • Calculation and use of biodiversity credits generated by Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust conservation activities
  • Review of amended Braided River Bird Management Plan, North Bank Tunnel Concept, Waitaki River
  • Assessment of ecological effects on avifauna for the proposed Castle Hill wind farm, Northern Wairarapa
  • Preliminary assessment of bird migration and movement at the proposed Cape Campbell wind farm site
  • Review of tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin) population trend monitoring in Fiordland and on Whenua Hou
  • Bird fatality and displacement monitoring at the proposed Turitea wind farm, Palmerston North
  • Rationale for bird monitoring and predator control at Norske Skog Tasman
  • Monitoring of bird populations to assess the potential effects of formaldehyde emissions, Southland
  • Sustainable management of brown kiwi and other threatened birds in Northland
  • Opportunities for shorebird protection associated with proposed land development at Te Arai, Northland
  • Bird monitoring on the Upper Waikato River
  • Strategic plan for Project Kiwi, Kuaotunu Peninsula, Whitianga
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