A small group of concerned dotterel lovers gathered last week for the inaugural meeting of Save the Dotterels Hawke's Bay.
Bay View resident Paddy Cooper called the meeting, which attracted people from as far away as Haumoana and Clive. Paddy started a Facebook page a couple of years ago which now has 97 members.
"We would like more people to join the Facebook page, even just out of interest. The more people become aware and take an interest, the more likely they are to help the cause and less likely they are to go tromping on or driving on the nests."
Paddy says the New Zealand dotterel is critically endangered and the banded dotterel is classed as threatened. The New Zealand dotterel mostly nests around Clive but have recently been seen at Whirinaki. The banded dotterel is spread throughout Hawke's Bay on the beaches and riverbeds.
"While they might seem plentiful here, we are privileged that Hawke's Bay is one of the few places they come to breed.
"Many of the eggs and chicks don't survive due to people disturbing, walking, or driving on the nests, as well as predators like seagulls, hawks and cats, including domestic cats, who eat the eggs and the chicks, and dogs, who chase the mothers off, stand on the nests, and eat the eggs."
The dotterels nest on the ridge, above the high tide mark, which is where people like to walk and drive their quad bikes.
"The dotterels have been nesting there for long before New Zealand was inhabited. They fly to northern Australia during our winter but are native to New Zealand because this is where they breed. So yes, they need saving."
Paddy says he called the meeting looking for help.
"We will have another meeting next month and ask specific other people to attend, as well as anyone else interested in helping, even in a small way.
"As well as joining the Facebook page out of interest, we are looking for people to join the meetings who are willing to be active, including putting out signs at the beginning of October and taking them in just before Christmas. Also people who may be willing to do a social media post or two."
He says before the group started this campaign, there were often no chicks by the end of the season.
"I started the group because of a dog that had come to the neighbourhood and used to scurry around on the beach eating the eggs while the owner was walking along the path, and no chicks were hatching.
"Now most people are very respectful of the birds and realise it's only for a short time every year, not at the height of summer. Guy Fawkes is always a bit of a problem, but again since the campaign started, most people are very happy to cooperate."
He says DoC and the Napier City Council have been very helpful in providing signs but have not gone as far as he would like.
"We want the Bay View to Westshore pathway to be designated a permanent lead only area and banning quad bikes from the ridge for that time of year at least. We ask people to keep their dogs on a lead when at the beach where the dotterels are breeding during October to December and don't walk or drive a quad bike on the ridge."
■ Interested people can join the Facebook page Save the Dotterels Hawke's Bay and contact Paddy through there or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The next meeting will be in November.