Central South Island Both Barrels Apr 2017
Prospects for the season
The prospects for the upcoming season are looking good.
The predicted drought ridden summer never struck, in fact summer hardly happened this year with mild temps and regular rainfalls occurring.
Compared to last year there is certainly more water around meaning more natural ponds, river braids and backwaters.
Right: Fish & Game Officer Hamish Stevens counts paradise shelduck and black swan at Raupo Lagoon near Twizel, in February.
Puddled water on paddocks and wetlands can provide feeding opportunities for ducks too so we anticipate some well-conditioned birds.
What will the weather be like for opening weekend, who knows?
Last year it was summer like conditions so maybe we’ll get wind and low cloud for 2017.
Remember to carry your licence with you on opening weekend as rangers will be out ensuring hunters are playing by the rules.
How are the numbers looking?
As part of Fish & Game’s role, game bird populations are monitored annually from a Cessna aircraft during summer and autumn.
Dabbling ducks were counted on the Canterbury Plains and lower reaches of the major river beds in March.
This included areas in the Central South Island and North Canterbury Fish & Game Regions.
The counts encompass the plains area from Amberley in the north to Herbert in the south.
Mallards make up the bulk of the birds counted, but due to difficulties in determining species from the plane, mallard are counted together with grey and shoveler duck and all being classed as dabbling ducks.
For the Canterbury plains, overall, the dabbling duck numbers were a smidgeon below average for the 11 years we have been conducting the survey.
The Canterbury Plains dabbling duck population is stable long term, if not slightly increasing.
At a glance the South Canterbury area of the region looks to be holding good numbers of birds.
Irrigation ponds held the biggest mobs of birds while riverbed braids seemed unattractive in March.
This will all change on Opening Day however as the hunting pressure will disperse birds into all available habitat.
After mallard duck, parries are the second most harvested waterfowl in the Central South Island Region, with others like shoveler and swan rarely making the hunter's bag on opening.
Paradise shelduck are counted in February, at this time of year parries congregate to moult feathers at water bodies that they use annually.
The 2017 parrie counts were healthy with similar numbers counted in 2017 region-wide to 2016.
There was however a decrease at Wainono which is the region's parrie moulting stronghold.
Over the last 20 years the count at Wainono fluctuates between around 2,000 and 7,800 bird.
For 2017 the Wainono count was approximately 3,400.
Business as usual
The Central South Island hunting regulations are set to maximise opportunities for the licenceholder to harvest game birds, while still maintaining a healthy breeding population.
Left: Calling birds on sunrise, opening 2016.
Although game bird populations have been shown to fluctuate from year to year, our long term monitoring shows that our populations are relatively stable along with our harvest.
For this reason the CSI hunting regulations remain unchanged for the 2017 season.
Opening Day for 2017 is Saturday May 6, 6.45am. To brush up on all the game bird regulations for CSI click here.
Ever wondered if a chef could cook your duck better than you or your spouse?
Well, wonder no more.
This season select a couple of your best birds, pluck 'em, gut 'em and drop them off at a local restaurant a day in advance and let the chef work some magic.
What we are talking about here is the Game Bird Food Festival. Luckily even ‘bad shots’ get to try some delicious recipes as prepared bird dishes are on offer too.
Click here to check out the festival pages to find out which restaurants are participating near you.
Central South Island Fish & Game Officer Rhys Adams