Black-backed gulls are known for becoming lodged in planes, and late last year the airport sprayed them with paint at three different Wellington landfills to decipher which dump is the most popular feeding spot for the birds. Wellington Airport spokesman Greg Thomas said most of them, unsurprisingly, were coming from the Southern Landfill.
The dye lasted between two and three weeks on the birds, he said. Coloured birds were spotted, by the public and the airport, in the vicinity to where they were marked – for example, orange-marked gulls from the Southern Landfill were observed around Wellington’s south coast, including Moa Point. The project is ongoing – the airport is continuing to track four gulls using GPS.
“We are receiving data which requires extensive statistical analysis and modelling. This will then be used to further inform the airport’s wildlife hazard management of the Southern black-backed gull, and their movements in and around the airfield. We are pleased with the progress of the research and the data collected is invaluable.”
The colour-marking phase at the three landfills before the GPS tracking was successful because it provided definitive evidence of the species foraging at the landfills, he said. This was further confirmed by a later GPS tracking phase, he said. The latest CAA report (April to June 2019) Wellington Airport’s bird strike rate is low, and it has been rated as low for many years. “A key goal of the study was to better understand the species, and to obtain definitive data as to where they were coming from, and going to. The findings would be key data on where and how often they were in the vicinity of the airfield, at what times, and at what altitude”, he said.
Stuff – Environment