New Zealand Dotterel at Waipu Cove
Image: Rod Hay | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


A rare shorebird has been spotted at Waikanae estuary and may be breeding for the first time.

Date:  30 November 2017

The New Zealand dotterel is considered 'at-risk' by the DOC with just over 2,000 remaining nationally, and only one previous record from the Kapiti Coast.

Local man and avid bird-watcher Mick Peryer identified the rare visitor last week and reported it to DOC.

Biodiversity ranger Brent Tandy says the birds were seen with eggs at a similar spot in 2012 but its not known if that breeding attempt was successful.

Dotterels are more commonly seen in the north and east of the North Island, where locals regularly rally around them to protect nests from trampling, predation from pests and dog attacks.

DOC have placed signs near the suspected nest site. Brent Tandy says it is important to give the birds space.

"Their nests are very exposed – just a simple scrape in the sand – which can be easily stepped on. People and dogs can scare the birds off their nests or away from the chicks once they hatch, leading to the nest failing or the chicks starving."

Walkers are asked to keep their dogs away from the area, and not linger longer than a few minutes if they plan on observing the birds.

"We assume there is at least one pair present, and if they are nesting, they will vigorously defend it by giving warning calls and attempting to lead intruders away."

"This distracts them from the important jobs of incubating eggs and feeding chicks, so please leave them alone."

Several eggs have been seen in a nest which, all going well, will take up to a month to hatch. Young birds will fledge from their parents care after around another 6 weeks, when the parents will probably also move on.

Signage has been placed on the sandspit to the north of the Waikanae river mouth. DOC will remove the signs once the area is no longer an active nest site.


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