A group concerned about the effects of powerboats on bird life is looking to restrict boating activities on Lake Kainui (Lake D).
The Lake Kainui Action Group is made up of regular walkers at the reserve. Spokesperson Liz Scott told Number 8 Network waterbirds are suffering from the use of powerboats.
Not safe for birds
“The main problem is from the wake from the boats, especially with regard to the dabchicks’ nesting habits, but also because of the disregard the boat operators have towards birdlife. I have witnessed two separate incidents of boats chasing down Black Swans, causing them to fly off and in one case the swan flew into the high tension lines and died from its injuries.”
The lake is located within the Kainui peat bog, in Horsham Downs, and is administered by Waikato District Council. It is available for fishing, hunting, and some on-water recreational activities. An access key costs $120 per season – which runs October to May. Liz Scott says this covers the nesting season of dabchicks, a nationally vulnerable bird.
The Lake Kainui population currently numbers about five or six birds. “They are having trouble breeding because they usually build floating nests which cannot survive the continual waves created by powerboats.
“We feel privileged to be able to watch over the dabchicks and take great interest in their activities, especially during breeding season with mating displays and then, if they are lucky, the rearing of chicks. The best breeding season we have noticed is when three pairs of birds each raised one chick. More often than not no chicks are reared successfully.”
Locals and others
The group is in its infancy and is made up of locals and others from Hamilton and further afield. “I have lived locally for about 16 years and have walked the circuit of the lake regularly for about 10 years. The boats stir up the lake bottom and make the water very murky, which creates a difficulty for the diving birds – shags, dabchicks and kingfishers – to find food. Also, the environmental impact from powerboat waves is causing irreparable erosion to the lake banks.”
Weather permitting, there are usually around three or four boats on the lake every weekend during the season. “Over the summer school holidays there can be boats there every day.”
The group hopes to put forward submissions to the Lake Kainui Recreation and Esplanade Reserves Management Plan, which is to be reviewed next year. “We are working towards having the support and ammunition in place by then to change the policy.
Lake Kainui, along with other streams, waterways, tributaries and wetlands, is important to the health of the Waikato River, she says.
Other birdlife includes mallard ducks, shags, kingfishers, pukeko, white faced herons, a small population of grey teal and the occasional black swan.
Canada Geese and Paradise Ducks visit seasonally and there have been sightings of egrets and a royal spoonbill.
“In order to breed, the birds are forced to fight off the rodents, mustelids, pukeko, shags and eels, all of which prey on both eggs and young, without having to contend with the powerboats causing disturbance and panic during the nesting season.
“We love our walks around the lake, watching the bird life, change of seasons and the peace and quiet, when the powerboats aren’t spoiling the tranquillity.”
- For more information, email Liz here.