Giving the NZ dotterel a fighting chance

Most dotterel nesting sites from Hicks Bay to Te Wherowhero are in coastal areas, around rivers and streams.

Most dotterel nesting sites from Hicks Bay to Te Wherowhero are in coastal areas, around rivers and streams.

WATCH YOUR STEP: New Zealand dotterels nest anywhere from the high tide mark to the base of dunes, and their camouflage make them difficult to spot. The Department of Conservation and Gisborne District Council are asking members of the public to step lightly near nesting sites this summer. Picture by Rosalind Cole
Picture by Mithuna Sothieson

THE PUBLIC should take care near New Zealand dotterel and banded dotterel nesting sites on the East Coast this summer, say the Department of Conservation and Gisborne District Council.

DoC biodiversity ranger Jamie Quirk says most of the dotterel nesting sites in this region are in coastal areas, around rivers and stream beds from Hicks Bay to Te Wherowhero.

“Disturbances at these nesting sites are often due to impacts from gravel extraction, visitors, users of off-road vehicles and dogs.

“We want people to avoid these nesting sites where possible.”

Dotterels are shorebirds usually found on sandy beaches and sandspits or feeding on tidal estuaries. They will nest anywhere from the high tide mark to the base of dunes.

They lay two or three eggs in nests which are well camouflaged and subsequently easily crushed by unsuspecting beach users.

NZ dotterel were once widespread and common.

Now there are only about 1700 birds left, making them more at risk than some species of kiwi.

NZ dotterel are mostly pale-grey on the back, with off-white underparts which become flushed with rusty-orange in winter and spring.

They have a prominent head, large dark-brown eyes and a strong black bill.

Banded dotterel have a narrow black band on the neck.

Their camouflage colours make them difficult to see when standing still, but their habit of running quickly and pausing to feed makes them easy to identify.

Their “chip-chip” call is often heard before they are seen.

Mr Quirk says there are small and effective measures people can take to give these birds a fighting chance this breeding season:

  • Keep below the high tide mark.
  • Keep noise to a minimum and do not get too close.
  • Keep to marked tracks and paths wherever possible.
  • Keep dogs on a leash.
  • Keep vehicles off beaches and sandspits.

Dotterel pamphlets will be distributed to freedom campers, information centres and landowners over the next two weeks.

Click here for further information on how to protect the dotterel

THE PUBLIC should take care near New Zealand dotterel and banded dotterel nesting sites on the East Coast this summer, say the Department of Conservation and Gisborne District Council.

DoC biodiversity ranger Jamie Quirk says most of the dotterel nesting sites in this region are in coastal areas, around rivers and stream beds from Hicks Bay to Te Wherowhero.

“Disturbances at these nesting sites are often due to impacts from gravel extraction, visitors, users of off-road vehicles and dogs.

“We want people to avoid these nesting sites where possible.”

Dotterels are shorebirds usually found on sandy beaches and sandspits or feeding on tidal estuaries. They will nest anywhere from the high tide mark to the base of dunes.

They lay two or three eggs in nests which are well camouflaged and subsequently easily crushed by unsuspecting beach users.

NZ dotterel were once widespread and common.

Now there are only about 1700 birds left, making them more at risk than some species of kiwi.

NZ dotterel are mostly pale-grey on the back, with off-white underparts which become flushed with rusty-orange in winter and spring.

They have a prominent head, large dark-brown eyes and a strong black bill.

Banded dotterel have a narrow black band on the neck.

Their camouflage colours make them difficult to see when standing still, but their habit of running quickly and pausing to feed makes them easy to identify.

Their “chip-chip” call is often heard before they are seen.

Mr Quirk says there are small and effective measures people can take to give these birds a fighting chance this breeding season:

  • Keep below the high tide mark.
  • Keep noise to a minimum and do not get too close.
  • Keep to marked tracks and paths wherever possible.
  • Keep dogs on a leash.
  • Keep vehicles off beaches and sandspits.

Dotterel pamphlets will be distributed to freedom campers, information centres and landowners over the next two weeks.

Click here for further information on how to protect the dotterel

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