Shorebirds are thriving along braided rivers across Hawke's Bay, according to a recent survey.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council surveyed 262km of rivers across the region in an attempt to find out the health of native shorebirds last year.

A number of bird species along the regions rivers are at-risk or threatened, including the banded dotterel, tūturiwhatu, and black-billed gull, the tarāpuka.

Terrestrial ecologist at HBRC Keiko Hashiba said the river bird survey is the largest in the region in decades.


"It covers 262 kilometres and shows that our rivers are strongholds for many of our threatened shorebirds and this is fantastic," she said.

"We've been seeing species decline elsewhere, so we are stoked that some Hawke's Bay bird populations remain steady."

The Tūtaekurī River supports the twelfth largest single-river populations of banded dotterels in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
The Tūtaekurī River supports the twelfth largest single-river populations of banded dotterels in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

A total of 2308 adult banded dotterels, which are native to New Zealand, were counted in the survey - about 12 per cent of New Zealand's population.

"The Tukituki, Ngaruroro, and Tūtaekurī Rivers respectively support the second, third and 12th largest single-river populations of this species in New Zealand," she said.

"In comparison, only 344 banded dotterels were counted along 211km of braided rivers in the Wairarapa."

In celebration of International Biodiversity Day (May 22), the Regional Council looked to highlight good biodiversity mahi going on round the region, reinforced by the results from the survey.

"It was interesting to see what parts of the rivers the birds prefer – the lower parts of the Tukituki and Ngaruroro but all the way through on the Tūtaekurī," Hashiba said.

"When they're breeding, shorebirds need open and clean shingle. Woody, invasive weeds mean the shorebirds lose breeding grounds."


Hashiba added: "This links with the Regional Council's flood protection work like gravel raking, and shows that raking may have a positive impact on shorebird populations alongside our strict ecological management regime."

The ecologist said Regional Council only rake outside the breeding season and always comb the rivers and mark out any nests to protect the wildlife living there before raking.

"It's so important that we balance our operational and environmental roles," she said.

"All our rivers have ecological management and enhancement plans to protect communities from flooding, and look after our wildlife. As a Regional Council, both these responsibilities are significant.

"These results show we're achieving a pretty good mix," she added.