Saturday, 11 January 2020

Black-billed Gulls in quake city

New Zealand sits on the Pacific Ocean's Ring of Fire and as such is hit by frequent earthquakes, with several in the past decade including the devastating 2011 quake which killed 185 people in Christchurch and demolished many buildings and severely damaged the city's cathedral. Earthquakes are a way of life and a constant threat and to the visitor the the city appears to be in a permanent state of being rebuilt.

Also damaged in the 2011 quake was a 17-storey office building in Armagh Road owned by PwC. Following the quake the building was demolished and cleared so that all that remains now is a hole in the ground which was the buildings basement as well as concrete foundations and metal reinforcing.

It's a bit of an eyesore to be honest, but amazingly in amongst the rubble and twisted steel the worlds most endangered gull has made itself at home in the Central Business District of New Zealand's second most populous city.

Photo: Black-billed Gull.
Black-billed gull is endemic to New Zealand and has undergone big declines in recent years. It is very similar to the red-billed gull, except that the bill is black and also longer and more slender.

Photo: Red-billed Gull.
Red-billed gull has a quite chunky red bill. Until recently this species was considered to be the same as the Silver gull of Australia, but apparently recent research has shown that this would be best considered a separate species. Red-billed gulls are quite numerous in New Zealand.

Black-billed gull adult and chick.

Black-billed gull chick.

Black-billed gull with too much red lipstick!

It's amazing to see both species breeding in such a situation.

Christchurch cathedral nine years after the 2011 earthquake.

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