It's been a good summer so far for Ahipara's tiny resident population of NZ dotterels, but it was another species that gave Doug Klever what he reckoned was the best start to a New Year that he could have wished for.
He was checking on the dotterels when he spied what he believed to be the first oystercatcher to have hatched there in decades.
"The same pair tried last year, but the egg failed, not sure why," he said.
"Just goes to show the necessity of the sanctuary (west of Kaka St). We have been at this for 12 years now, and have had some amazing results."
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So far this year four dotterel had fledged, but the young oystercatcher still being tended to by its parents.
"I'm not sure when it will fledge, but let's hope everyone maintains their distance and gives this little critter, the dotterels and all the other birds in the sanctuary the respect they deserve, as they have been doing in the past," Doug said.
Last week there were two more dotterel nests with eggs that had yet to hatch.
People were gradually coming to accept that the sanctuary was not the place to walk, exercise dogs or drive vehicles, he added, and while progress had been slow, the resident wildlife was clearly benefiting from largely being undisturbed.
"A big thanks to the Ahipara community, Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa, Ahipara Coastal Patrol, Karen and Rob, the Northland Age and everyone else I forgot to mention. You know who you are," he said.