By Nicki Munro, Coromandel Marine Ranger
Another successful northern New Zealand dotterel breeding season has flashed by on the Coromandel Peninsula. Our dotterel rangers and an extensive volunteer network from the Dotterel Watch Programme, who once again joined forces between August and March.
Northern New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu pukunui
The aim - to see adult dotterel pairs successfully hatch and raise their chicks to fledge, and join the small but recovering national population of northern New Zealand dotterel.
Northern New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu pukunui are a threatened, endemic species that are only found in the northern two thirds of the North Island. They have a national population of around 2175 – less than some species of kiwi!
This season 55 dotterel nesting sites with 216 nesting pairs were monitored. This resulted in 131 chicks fledging – a very productive season. The Coromandel is one of only two regions that provide an increasing contribution to the species population. The productivity of our region, Frouk Miller says "is put down to the coordination of community efforts with the support of the Department to protect and enhance survival rates".
Dotterel rangers Frouk Miller and Lisa Kearney spent the season working with and assisting beachside communities who have the privilege of sharing their backyard with returning, resident dotterel and variable oyster catcher pairs every year. The involvement includes monitoring breeding success of dotterel pairs, maintaining fencing and signage around nesting sites and predator control. It also includes engaging with the other beach users to create awareness about the importance of sharing beach space with protected wildlife.
Dotterel eggs on the beach - they can be easily damaged by people
Signs for the local beach - created as part of the Dotterels in Schools programme
The Dotterels in Schools programme is also incorporated into the season with the aim to involve younger people in an interesting conservation topic they can witness in their local area. Students learn about the significance of native, endemic species (in particular the dotterel) and have the opportunity to create a sign for their local beach to share a special message they have learnt.
DOC would like to take this opportunity to thank all minders, volunteers, students, organisations and interested parties who gave their time in one way or another to protect this conservation dependant species.
There are still many beaches that require minders (in particular Matarangi) and DOC would strongly encourage anybody who is interested in being involved to get in touch – a dotterel pair nearby could need your help!