The North Island Dotterel, Tuturiwhatu, is a species of endangered shorebirds – so it was a surprise when a dotterel group popped up in Piha around six years ago.
The last three breeding seasons have seen the dotterel population produce chicks – supported by ongoing efforts from local conservation groups, volunteers and the council.
In particular, Piha’s dotterels have been guarded by two NZ Dotterel Minder volunteers Jordi Tablada and Sean Mackenzie, recruited by Auckland Council.
We get an update on how their work is going:
The work and the results
To protect the birds from introduced pest mammals, Jordi and Sean have maintained dotterel awareness signage to warn nearby walkers and talked with numerous visiting beachgoers, especially those with dogs, about minding the dotterels. They also set up protective structures over the nesting pairs to stop Black Backed Gulls from dropping down onto the nest and erected cordons to define the area where the dotterels are so the nearby public will know.
Now, thanks to the pair’s hard work and dedication, five chicks have successfully fledged (learned to fly) and are flourishing – two chicks hatched in the 2017/18 breeding season and three in 2018/19.
Biodiversity Advisor, Chris Bindon is heartened by the results.
“The fruits from this labour of love is both highly rewarding and inspirational,” he says.
“Jordi and Sean can be truly proud of their conservation endeavours at Piha.
“Aucklanders – and indeed, New Zealanders in general certainly owe these dotterel minders a debt of thanks for helping improve the lot of one of our most precious taonga, the Tuturiwhatu.”
Looking to the future
Still, Chris knows that dotterel survival is never certain. The dotterels and their young face almost-daily pressures from introduced mammalian predators – including pets like dogs that hunt them, their eggs and chicks.
The efforts of volunteers like Jordi and Sean play a vital role in preserving the species.
Piha dotterels aren’t the only ones with such dedicated human-protectors - several Auckland west coast beaches have its own NZ Dotterel Minders who have made it their goal to help protect the treasured birds.