Effort to save pair of dotterels


A combined effort to protect the nesting site of a pair of Wairarapa's rarest birds is being launched at Riversdale Beach.

Greater Wellington regional Council, Masterton District Council and Riversdale residents are banding together to look after the nest of two nationally endangered New Zealand dotterels, which are attempting to breed at the north end of the beach, hundreds of kilometres south of the dotterel's traditional habitat.

Less than 1700 New Zealand dotterels are left in the country and none are known to be breeding south of a sanctuary at Cape Kidnappers.

Greater Wellington Council biodiversity co-ordinator Robyn Smith said no one was entirely sure why the Riversdale pair were so far south, but everyone was keen to see them breed.

"The pair has tried to breed in the area for the last two summers without success and with a bit of help from the community and visitors we could make this summer third time lucky,' Ms Smith said.

She said New Zealand dotterels were up against it and need all the help they can get.

"They scrape a small dish in the sand and then lay two or three perfectly camouflaged eggs in it," she said.

"The nest is very easy to miss and the eggs can easily be crushed by feet, paws, hooves or wheels on the beach."

The regional council has set traps to capture predators such as feral cats, stoats and ferrets and is asking people walking dogs to keep their animals on a lead north of the lagoon.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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