Grebe Diary 15 | February 3 2019

Grebe using a plastic bag to bolster its nest. | Photo: John Darby

There is a sense of indignation out there with the plastic war. Ban the bags, plastic pollution is a huge problem, dolphins pick it up, whales and seabirds die with guts full of the stuff, and turtles are found with plastic straws up their nostrils and it’s really, really bad in overseas countries.

In our country plastic is stacked up in neat bales at huge collection places waiting for someone else to deal with it. In overseas parts, it’s all over the beaches and children forage in waste dumps looking for bits of the stuff in the hope that someone might pay just a little to use it for something else.

The photo above was taken in one of the most beautiful and pristine lakes in the world and that lake is right here. It’s of a bird that is equally beautiful and considered threatened and rare, and it is using a plastic bag to bolster its nest.

That’s a long intro to this week’s grebe diary, but for goodness sake, what on earth is going on in this lake? My guess is that I spend between 100-150 days of the year on the lake edge and very few of those days pass by that I don’t pick up some rubbish that has been washed up or is floating nearby. Who are these tossers that toss their rubbish into the lake?

What worries me most is not so much what we can see going into the lake, but what we can’t see! Remember just a year or so ago a volunteer group (Touchstone) discovered a private toilet was sending its total output of E.coli directly into the lake!

And then again, pretty much without warning African Oxygen weed (Lagarosiphon) snuck into the lake many years ago and from there on we have generously shared it downstream to other lakes and waterways. I don’t know the cost of managing it downstream, but I do know that it is costing taxpayers in the region of $500,000 each year just to control it in Lake Wanaka.

And now we have Lake Snot, politely called Lake Snow when it first arrived. It’s more insidious than Lake Weed and from what I have heard it may well come to dominate the ecology of this lake. Meanwhile we share it and its curse downstream.

I feel a little better now that’s off my chest. The point is that we need to stop the “holier than thou attitude” we embrace and get our act together soon. We need to support those organisations who are pleading for action very soon before it’s too late.

The cleanup of tree matter close to RC platform may have deterred them from continuing to incubate and they have abandoned their nest. Nest two hatched a chick today leaving nest 11 and 12 to hold the fort, though I noted that a pair of birds on nest seven might be anticipating next year’s breeding season?


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