Few things give Doug Klever more pleasure than seeing Ahipara's tiny band of New Zealand dotterels doing well, and this year he has more reason to celebrate than ever.
"It's been an awesome breeding season this year," he said last week.
"We've got eight chicks, all just about ready to fledge."
Four breeding pairs, one more than last year, were now living immediately west of the Kaka St access to 90 Mile Beach, and this year's breeding season had started early. The birds were resident all year round, and he suspected that at least some of the adults had hatched from eggs there.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
He had heard that dotterels had been known to return to where they began their lives, although he couldn't swear to that, but there were other small populations in the relatively near vicinity, including at Tanutanu and in dunes to the north of Ahipara.
"I'm still keeping a close eye out for dogs, but I see a lot more on leashes than I used to," Klever said.
"And closing the Kaka St ramp for a while this year made a big difference. There were very few cars on the beach while it was closed, so the birds weren't being disturbed or stressed.''
He was not in favour of suggestions from some quarters, not including the Far North District Council, that vehicular access to the beach should be moved a little west, from Kaka St to Korora St.
"I've told [Mayor] John Carter that I don't think they should put a ramp there," he said.
"The river is pretty deep there, and flows both ways depending on the tide. There would be erosion issues, and vehicles would be going on to and off the beach right where the dotterels' main breeding area is.
"I hope it doesn't happen. It wouldn't make any sense."