A group of dedicated volunteers are about to start the 2015 New Zealand dabchick count for the Rotorua district.
Dabchicks are an iconic species for Rotorua. The species is considered extinct from the South Island and fewer than 2000 individuals exist in the rest of the country with most of them found in the Central North Island – particularly in Rotorua.
The groups will survey lakes Ngahewa, Okareka, Okaro, Rotorua, Rotoiti and Tarawera three times over a nine day period.
“One of the main threats to the remaining population is predation by pests such as rats and stoats. These birds spend their lives on the water. Their nests are anchored to the reeds and rushes close to the water’s edge where predators can easily prey on them while they nest” explained Department of Conservation Ranger Amanda Vallis.
Dabchicks are known to be susceptible to boat wash which can swamp their nests.
“They are shy birds. We get as close as we can in a boat and count them from afar so we don’t disturb them” said Dianne Atkinson who counts dabchicks on Lake Rotoiti.
“We rely on members of the community to help with the counting and any extra help is appreciated – particularly if you have a boat we can borrow!”
Boat owners and volunteers are encouraged to contact Amanda Vallis on +64 7 349 8223 or email email@example.com to offer assistance.
“We’d love to see some other lakes surveyed too! Dabchicks have been sighted on the Blue Lake so it would be great to have a survey of that lake”
The Sulphur Bay Wildlife Refuge will be surveyed by DOC staff on the DOC vessel Mateva. There is no other boat access permitted in this area. “If boats were allowed in the wildlife refuge, it’s likely the bird population would be severely affected” said Miss Vallis.