NZ Dotterels number only 1,700 approximately nationally and this breading season, they appear to be enjoying our Eastern Bay beaches. From Otamarakau in the west through to Whangaparoa in the east if you are at the beach, the chances are you are sharing the space with a bird which is much more endangered than kiwi.
All together, Department of Conservation staff, Forest and Bird volunteers (including some much need funding from them through Environment Bay of Plenty Environmental Enhancement Fund), schools and others are keeping their eyes on 31 pair of NZ dotterel.
So far 19 chicks have successfully hatched.
It is not all good news, however. Hemi Barsdell from DOC “Some nests have been lost. Causes of nest losses include vehicles, predators and natural causes. There are two sites in particular that we have more vehicle troubles with than others, these are Otamarakau and Tarawera. The vehicles are generally associated with fishing, either whitebaiting or surfcasting/long-lining.
“There are some easy steps that fishers can take to minimise their impact on nesting sites. Most importantly, respect the temporary fences and signs that our volunteers put out around the birds nesting sites. NZ dotterel eggs are almost impossible to see if you don’t know what you are looking for – made even harder if you are driving down the beach in a vehicle. If you do choose to take your vehicle along the beach, the safest spot to drive is between the low and high water tide mark.
“In general, we are happy with the way the season is progressing. We are right in the thick of it at the moment with nests on the go and chicks hatching/growing. All the way through to Christmas and the busy holiday season the dotterels will continue to nest.
“So if you see these signs, temporary fences and nests this summer while at the beach, please respect them, keep your dogs under control and move at least 50m away. There is plenty of room along the Bay of Plenty coast for everyone, the NZ dotterels just need a bit of space while nesting” said Mr Barsdell.