Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


BOP Shorebirds on the Mend

BOP Shorebirds on the Mend.

Click for big version.

Two years ago shorebirds in the Bay of Plenty had to content with the problems caused by the oilspill from MV Rena. They were fortunate in that the bulk of the oil came ashore away from most of their nesting sites, but significant damage was done. The New Zealand Dotterel, a threatened species found only in New Zealand, was particularly badly affected, partly by the oil and partly by being taken into ‘protective captivity’ to ensure that they were not more affected by the oil, more that 10% of the bay’s population was lost as a result.

There are only around 2400 New Zealand Dotterels in the world, and some 150 of them live in the Bay of Plenty, with a significant concentration between Waihi Beach and Opotiki. So we are an important area for them and the fact that the Rena oilspill occurred in the middle of their breeding season increased the impact.

Some of the funding provided by the Ministry for the Environment for the Rena Recovery Programme, has been targeted at helping the dotterel recover from the effects of the Rena, and recent information from around the Bay indicates that they may have recovered well.

The recent newsletter of the BOP Shorebird Programme, which is funded and supported by MfE, DOC and Forest & Bird, showed New Zealand Dotterel nesting at 22 or more locations along the coast with more that 60 pairs breeding. If you add in the non-breeding birds, then there are probably up to 150 of this threatened species in the Bay, a significant increase over the estimated 120 that were here when the Rena went aground.

The BOP Shorebird programme is coordinated by Julian Fitter, who also helps to run the Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society, Maketu has the biggest single colony of dotterel in the bay with some 12 pairs nesting on Maketu Spit, and a further 7 pairs at Pukehina and Newdick’s Beach.. The programme is only possible because of the help provided by many volunteers who perform three functions.

Trapping is a major part of the programme, Dotterel are ground nesters and very vulnerable to a wide range of predators including rats, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs, dogs and feral cats. By setting out a number of traps close to known breeding sites we are able to keep the number of potential predators down which improves the survival rate of the chicks who having survived 4 weeks in an egg, have to survive another 6 weeks before they can fly. Most of the traps in the eastern bay are set out by DOC as they are double traps and quite heavy to handle. The traps are baited either with an egg, or with dried rabbit meat.

The second element of the programme is erecting fencing and signage. In most places this is temporary and just erected for the season to advise people not to walk in that area as it is easier to tread on a nest without realising it. At Pukehina we have erected a much more sturdy fence as we are trying to encourage the dune grasses to grow back. Previously quad bike owners would drive all over the spit, which not only endangers nesting shorebirds, but also kills small plants that are just starting to develop and hold the sand. The results here have been excellent, though we have had to move the fence a couple of times as the main channel in the harbour has moved and eroded the spit from the inside.

The third task performed by volunteers is monitoring, this is important as Dotterel often breed in very unusual places, we have just had one in Bowentown, near Waihi Beach, nest on the edge of the carpark, amazingly the chicks have hatched and we hope will make it to adulthood. In other places the fences have to be moved or enlarged to include a nest outside the fenced area. If there is bad weather in the offing and there is a dotterel nest right on the high tide line, then it is possible to move the nest higher up the beach to avoid it being washed away.

It is encouraging to see an increase in the number of sites where dotterel and other shore birds are breeding, this may be an indicator that the population is growing and that the work of the shorebird programme and its many volunteers ins bearing fruit.
Apart from the new site in the Bowentown carpark, they have also started nesting in the newly created Athenree wetland, on the sand quarry at Sulphur Point, on Newdick’s beach near Maketu and on the sand island off Piripai Spit at Whakatane.

Another aspect of the programme is education, it has two objectives, protecting shorebirds and education the public, especially through a programme of presentations to schools, often working with Coastcare to ensure that children grow up with a better understanding and appreciation of our natural environment. Birds are not the only animals that are found on the beach, but they are a very good indicator of the state of the environment. If we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy those beaches, then we need to look after them and the birds and plants that live there.

As a visitor to our beautiful beaches, you can do your part to protect these delightful and iconic species.

Vehicle drivers cannot see the well camouflaged eggs on the sand and may run over the nests, or simply drive the birds away from their nests. There should be no vehicles on the beaches where they nest. People, pets, and horses also pose a major threat through trampling of nests, and disturbance during breeding.

When walking on the beach you can play your part by not disturbing any nests - keep below the high tide mark, keep dogs on a short leash, and preferably leave them at home. If you see a bird feigning injury or acting as if it objects to your presence then please move on quickly as the bird probably has a nest nearby. The bird will not return to the nest until you have gone and the neglected eggs may be stolen by a predator or suffer from excessive heating or chilling.

Known nest areas are often roped or fenced off – please stay well clear of these areas and leave the birds in peace. They are dedicated parents but need all of our help.

The BOP Shorebird Programme is an excellent example of a partnership between national and local government, NGOs and the community. The programme has only been running for 2 years, but it is already bearing fruit.

If you would like to volunteer and become part of this great program, or want further information please do contact:

Julian Fitter, julianfitter@xtra.co.nz


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Drone Strikes And Judith Collins‘ Last Stand

The news that a New Zealand citizen was killed last November in a US drone attack in Yemen brings the drones controversy closer to home.

To the US, drones are a legitimate response to the threat posed by the al Qaeda organisation and its franchisees... To the US, the drones carry the added advantage of not putting US troops at risk on the ground, and minimises the need for putting them in large numbers in bases in the countries concerned, always a politically sensitive point.

The counter-argument, well articulated by security analyst Paul Buchanan on RNZ this morning, is that this particular drone attack can be said to amount to an extra-judicial execution of a New Zealand citizen by one of our military allies, in circumstances where the person concerned posed no threat to New Zealand’s domestic security. More>>


Parliament Today:

Policies: Labour’s Economic Upgrade For Manufacturing

Labour Leader David Cunliffe has today announced his Economic Upgrade for the manufacturing sector – a plan that will create better jobs and higher wages. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Life And ACC Work Of Sir Owen Woodhouse

With the death of Sir Owen Woodhouse, the founding father of the Accident Compensation Scheme, New Zealand has lost one of the titans of its post-war social policy. More>>


Bad Transnationals: Rio Tinto Wins 2013 Roger Award

It won the 2011 Roger Award and was runner up in 2012, 2009 and 08. One 2013 nomination said simply and in its entirety: “Blackmailing country”... More>>


Select Committees: Tobacco Plain Packaging Hearings

The Stroke Foundation is today backing the Cancer Society and Smokefree Coalition who are making oral submissions to the Health Select Committee in support of proposed legislation to remove of all branding from tobacco products. More>>


Milk: Oravida Asked For Cabinet Help

New evidence released by New Zealand First today reveals Justice Minister Judith Collins used her position to manipulate the Government to help her husband’s company, Oravida, after the Fonterra botulism scare, says New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters. More>>


With Conditions: Ruataniwha Consents Approved In Draft Decision

The Tukituki Catchment Proposal Board of Inquiry has granted 17 resource consents relating to the $265 million Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme in a draft decision that would open more of the Hawke’s Bay to irrigation. More>>


Fast Lanes, Campervans: Labour 'Making The Holidays Easier For Kiwi Drivers'

The next Labour Government will make the holidays easier and journeys quicker for Kiwi families driving on the roads, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Royalty And Its Tourism Spin-Offs

Ultimately the Queen’s longevity has been one of her most significant accomplishments. A transition to Prince Charles while the monarchy was in the pits of public esteem in the mid to late 1990s would have been disastrous for the Royal Firm. Far more congenial representatives have now emerged... More>>


Privacy (Again): ACC Demands Excessive Privacy Waivers

Labour: “This is just another example of ACC under National deliberately acting to deny treatment and compensation... Those who did fill in the form have effectively been victims of yet another ACC privacy breach. This time Judith Collins knew it was happening..." More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news