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Shorebirds

There are many shorebirds to be seen along the sandy beaches of the Norwest coasts.

Some of these birds prefer to be down by the tide-line searching for fresh crustaceans in the damp sand.  Others hug the sand dunes, poking in the loose sand for sand-hoppers and other bugs.

All these birds, such as the large black Variable Oystercatcher, and the little sandy-coloured New Zealand Dotterel, are very vulnerable to disturbance.

A few people keeping their distance will not upset them, but people getting too close, dogs running off the lead, and vehicles driven through the sand-dunes, are all high risk for these birds.

Nesting time in the spring and early summer is the worst time for the shorebirds when disturbance can mean an abandoned or ruined nest with crushed eggs or dead chicks.

They are also at risk from natural predators – Harrier hawks and Black-back Gulls will also take eggs and chicks.  Introduced vermin such as hedgehogs, stoats, rats and feral cats also pose a high risk to nesting success.

On the plus-side, there are many people who regularly keep an eye on these shorebirds to ensure they have a good chance of survivial.  In some areas, the Department of Conservation is able to protect nests at breeding times, and Auckland Regional Council rangers also do this type of work.

New Zealand Dotterel are one of our rare and endangered birds with only about 1400 left on beaches throughout the northern half of the North Island.


New Zealand Dotterel     Photo: Suzi Phillips

A wide range of shorebirds, including New Zealand Dotterel are seen on the Branch’s field trips to Manukapua.

Learn more about birding in your area with OSNZ by going to www.osnz.org.nz website and selecting the Auckland Region contact.