Beachgoers urged to watch out for nesting dotterels

By Don Farmer

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PRECIOUS: The New Zealand dotterel is Wairarapa's rarest bird. PHOTO/FILE
PRECIOUS: The New Zealand dotterel is Wairarapa's rarest bird. PHOTO/FILE

People visiting Riversdale Beach are being urged not to walk among dunes south of the estuary and, if they must take dogs to the beach then to keep the animals on leads.

This is because a pair of endangered New Zealand dotterel has begun nesting at the beach, the southernmost breeding ground in the North Island and the Wairarapa branch of Forest and Bird wants to keep the nest safe.

According to the branch two dotterel chicks were successfully fledged last year "despite huge odds".

New Zealand dotterel numbers have severely declined in recent years and Forest and Bird said although two chicks may seem a small advance, it was nevertheless important.

Dotterels face many challenges from predators and people.

Eggs are crushed by quad bikes and other beach vehicles or even trodden on as the eggs are camouflaged on the sand and are hard to spot.

Dogs pose a huge risk and only a week or so ago a free running labrador without its owner being with it was seen wandering close to the nest area.

Greater Wellington Regional Council is playing its part in trying to keep the nest safe.

The council has a predator trapping programme up and running and has sectioned off the area to help keep vehicles away, as well as putting up signs alerting people to the importance of the area.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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