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Rare bird eggs found on beach

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Riversdale local Bill Roberts and regional council officer Scott Ihaka will be looking out for Wairarapa's rarest birds this summer. Photo / Wairarapa Times-Age
Riversdale local Bill Roberts and regional council officer Scott Ihaka will be looking out for Wairarapa's rarest birds this summer. Photo / Wairarapa Times-Age

Two rare birds have laid eggs at Wairarapa's Riversdale Beach and a temporary fence has been built to protect them.

Two nationally endangered New Zealand dotterel (tuturiwhatu) laid three eggs on a precarious sandspit between the lagoon at Riversdale and the sea.

They were spotted at the beach last month and began attempting to incubate three eggs just north of the Riversdale Surf Club last week.

Greater Wellington Regional Council staff and residents have done all they can to protect the nest from vehicles and dogs, although little can be done about the elements.

Regional council biodiversity adviser Robyn Smith said the birds usually lay eggs in a small scrape in the sand on exposed beaches but many of them choose a safer spot than this pair.

"We've placed a temporary fence about 20 metres back from the nest and put up some signs to give the birds a bit of space from vehicles, people and dogs.

However, there isn't much we can do about the lagoon or the sea. If there's heavy rain or heavy seas, the nest will probably get inundated," she said.

"If that happens, they may try nesting again this summer somewhere else on the beach or wait until next year."

Ms Smith said with fewer than 1700 New Zealand dotterels left and none found further south than Cape Kidnappers in Hawke's Bay, it's worth trying to help them.

"They're a bit cryptic and have some odd behaviour, but they evolved their breeding habits when the only threats they had were from other seabirds, and they can cope with them," she said.

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