Step lightly near nesting sites as chicks and nests are often hard to see, such as this endemic and endangered tarāpuka
DOC Hawke's Bay Operations Manager Connie Norgate says many of New Zealand's rare and endangered birds are currently raising their young in these areas.
"Right now, there are thousands of birds nesting on our beaches," she says.
"From the critically endangered black-billed gull or tarāpuka and New Zealand dotterel or tūturiwhatu, to the more common, but equally precious, white fronted tern or tara.
"These birds use camouflage as a defence mechanism, so the chicks and nests can be extremely difficult to spot."
Nests, such as this tara nui one, are often well hidden in the beach to protect the eggs from predators, so it pays to look down when walking anywhere near nesting sites
For this reason, DOC is asking people to be aware of their surroundings when visiting the beach, especially if they have a dog and even in leash free areas.
"Having more people outdoors increases the chance of disturbances at nesting sites," says Ms Norgate.
"Please avoid nesting sites where possible because animals are not aware of boundaries. If you're out with your dog and see a nest, please leash them until you're safely past that area.
"Also keep your eyes peeled when using off-road vehicles."
Other ways people can help protect these birds is by keeping:
- below the high tide mark
- noise to a minimum and not getting too close
- to marked tracks and paths wherever possible
- dogs on a leash
- vehicles off beaches and sandspits.
Ms Norgate says these are small and effective measures to give these birds a fighting chance this breeding season.