By Nicola Munro, Biodiversity Ranger
Successful breeding season
Last summer saw another successful breeding season for Northern New Zealand dotterels on the Coromandel Peninsula.
DOC’s dotterel rangers and an extensive volunteer network form the Dotterel Watch Programme. They join forces every year for the breeding season between August and March.
The aim is 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 dotterels/tūturiwhatu pukunui, one of two subspecies of New Zealand dotterel.
This season 55 dotterel nesting sites with 216 nesting pairs were monitored on the Coromandel Peninsula. This resulted in 131 chicks fledging – a very productive season!
Northern New Zealand dotterels
New Zealand dotterels are shorebirds, usually found on sandy beaches and sandspits or feeding on tidal estuaries. Their camouflage makes them difficult to see when standing still, but their habit of running quickly and pausing to feed makes them easy to identify.
Northern New Zealand dotterels are a threatened, endemic species that are only found in the northern two thirds of the North Island.
New Zealand dotterels have a national population of around 2175 – less than some species of kiwi.
The Coromandel is one of only two regions that provide an increasing contribution to the population of New Zealand dotterels.
The productivity of this region is due to the coordination of community efforts with the support of DOC to protect and enhance survival rates.
Dotterel rangers spend the season working with and assisting beachside communities who have the privilege of sharing their backyard with returning, resident dotterel pairs every year.
Dotterels in Schools
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.
How you can help
People, their pets and vehicles pose a major threat to New Zealand dotterels. You can help by staying out of roped-off areas and keeping dogs and vehicles off beaches and sandspits when dotterels are present.
There are still many Coromandel beaches that require dotterel minders If you are interested in being involved get in touch – a dotterel pair nearby may need your help!
A big thanks to all minders, volunteers, students, and organisations who give their time in one way or another to protect this threatened endemic species.