August 26, 2008

Tough Winter Claims Birds

Rough wintry conditions at sea are probably behind the death of seabirds found on Sumner Beach, says the Department of Conservation (DOC).

On Saturday, The Press reported that four shags had been found dead on Sumner Beach by Coast to Coast organiser and Sumner resident Robin Judkins.

Yesterday, Sumner resident Jill Sainsbury reported she had found four dead seagulls on nearby Scarborough Beach whilst walking there last week.

"What alerted me to them was that they were all in really beautiful condition," said Sainsbury. "I was watching the behaviour of the other gulls around and they seemed so sad. It had obviously disturbed them."

Judkins found another dead shag on Sumner Beach on Saturday.

A South Brighton resident said he had seen a seagull dive into the water and then die suddenly about 40m out to sea near Scarborough.

"I've got excellent vision and I could see exactly what was going on," said the man. "It dived into the water and then it came up and started to flap like mad but couldn't take off, then it was dead."

DOC biodiversity ranger Craig Alexander said many birds succumbed to exhaustion in the winter months and could be washed ashore.

"On other areas of the coastline there are birds which are washed up and never found," he said.

"Because Christchurch is a place where there are people on the beach a lot of the time, they get seen. It is all part of the circle of life."

Environment Canterbury said it would only analyse the birds' deaths if there was a suspected link to pollution.

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