It’s getting harder and harder to spot the NZ Dotterel , tūturiwhatu, on the Coromandel Peninsula. Apparently this is the first year that there have be no Dotterels on Tairua Beach. I managed to spot a couple of breeding pairs on Pauanui Beach, but that was all. I have seen them at the Pauanui Lakes Golf Resort, where residents are not permitted to own pets. Perhaps these man made environments will be the only safe place for these vulnerable species to live.
The Southern NZ Dotterel is currently classified as nationally critical with a population of approximately 250 birds surviving on Stewart Island and nesting on mountain tops.
The Northern NZ Dotterel is a little bit better off, being nationally vulnerable with a population of approximately 1,700.
Unfortunately it seems we value the freedom of our pets more than we do the conservation of our native fauna. As the owner of two rather large dogs, I appreciate having an open space to let them have a good run, but I’m all for dog restrictions. I’m not quite sure why we need to have access to the entire stretch of a beach. I think these breeding sites on sand spits and near estuaries should be completely dog free, all year round.
Pests such as hedgehogs, stoats, cats and possums need eradicating. Trapping programs should be managed throughout the year and should be a priority of all coastal communities. Like a lot of New Zealand natives, these endemic birds have a lot going against their survival. Their nests are generally just simple depressions in sand or soil. They may be decorated with shells and are sparsely lined. The 2-3 eggs that they lay are camouflaged with their sandy surroundings, being cream in colour with dark brown speckles.
If it were down to Darwin and his theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ then these tiny birds are on their way out. Despite this natural selection, economically New Zealand must invest in the reproductive success of such species. We are a unique country and have so much to offer. Our Gondwana existence draw thousands of tourist to our shores every year.