Protecting shore plovers at Waikawa

Department of Conservation —  08/10/2015

By De-Arne Sutherland, Conservation Partnerships

There is quite a bit of variety in my role as a Conservation Partnerships Manager, but it’s not very often that I get the opportunity to shed the office uniform, put on some fluro, and get out in the field.

De-Arne Sutherland and Helen Jonas at Waikawa.

On Waikawa

So when I heard that Biodiversity Ranger Helen Jonas needed an extra volunteer to help with trapping work on Waikawa off the Mahia Peninsula, I juggled a few meetings around in my calendar and put both hands up for a taste of island work.

Waikawa is privately owned farmland and an island sanctuary for the endangered shore plover of which there are only about 240 left in the world. The island is also home to a small population of New Zealand dotterel.

Shore plover. Photo: Leon Berard | CC BY-NC 2.0.

Shore plover

For me it was a day of firsts including my first trip in a helicopter, my first time checking a DOC 200 trap-line, and my first time monitoring tracking tunnels for pests.

A fellow trapper and I were just finishing up our work when we came across some of the team monitoring shore plover nests down on the beach. A couple of birds suddenly landed right in front of us and started to make a racket to grab our attention. I later learned that this was a tactical deployment to lead us away from their nest. The ploy worked in our case as we silently followed the birds to get some photos. It was a great ending to a very rewarding day.

Shore plover monitors on Waikawa.

Shore plover monitors

Although much of my work involves advocating for and finding partners to support conservation work it was a ‘breath of fresh air’ to get out and experience some of this work for myself.

Thanks to Helen Jonas and the team for an awesome day out!