4X4 runs over colony of black-billed gulls, killing chicks.

In mid-November 2018, a large colony, up to 2,500 strong, of black-billed gulls began nesting in the Ashley River near the State Highway One bridge. This was after they had been washed out of the Waimakariri by a large flood. In late November they also lost their nests to a flood. Such birds are very determined, so they began nesting again further up the Ashley River. In early December there were up to 2,130 there – including non-breeding adults.

First chicks were seen on 30 December and by mid January all chicks had hatched and they had moved to the nearby waters edge. Five hundred chicks were counted, from an estimated 850 nests, on 21 January.

ARRG and ECan have as usual made a comprehensive effort to close access to the river to 4wd vehicles during the nesting season. Many signs have been erected. Education efforts to inform the public about the effects that people, vehicles and dogs can have on nesting birds have continued. Despite this, on 24 January 9 chicks were found crushed to death by a vehicle.

The evidence of this was clear, vehicle tracks could be seen leading directly to the colony, the vehicle then backed off and attempted to go around the edge of the colony but still managed to hit some birds. This does not appear to be a deliberate attempt to kill the birds but was an act of recklessness and stupidity.