SUP070820NADterns2.JPG The survival of NZ's most endangered birds - tara iti/ fairy tern - has been given a boost with a $25,000 grant from Foundation North.
The tara iti/fairy tern is New Zealand's most endangered bird and most of those, 40, are in Northland.
The birds need human help to survive and thrive and that goal has been boosted by a charitable grant.
Foundation North has granted $25,000 to New Zealand Fairy Tern Charitable Trust, to support its crucial work protecting the last 40 fairy terns alive.
The trust was established in 2008 by a group of volunteers who had assisted the Department of Conservation (DoC) in monitoring the critically endangered birds for many years.
Its main activities are advocacy and public education, logistical support of volunteers on four breeding grounds, and the management of predator control, particularly at Mangawhai, the fairy tern's most important breeding location.
The grant would enable the trust to continue its pest and predator control programme in the Mangawhai Wildlife Refuge, protecting the fairy tern and other shorebirds that nest there.
Trust chair Heather Rogan said the predator control programme began in 2012, and had improved fairy tern breeding success, with much of the credit for that going to trapper Reg Whale and his conservation dog Kenny.
"Reg Whale's trapping prowess has meant that no birds, chicks or eggs have been lost to the predators targeted since the start of the programme," Rogan said.
Whale led the predator control work all year round, with support from DoC rangers during the breeding season.
"We're so lucky to have Reg, with his knowledge and his commitment to fairy terns," one volunteer said.
"He's always available to help DoC rangers and the volunteers. He went the extra mile to get Kenny certified as a conservation dog, and now he's in demand all over the country."
Jane Vaughan, former volunteer co-ordinator at Mangawhai, agreed.
"It's so good to know when you're out in the fairy tern breeding area, if you see footprints that look like a cat or some other predator you can phone Reg and he can be there in 10 minutes," she said.
Foundation North said the trust's work would enable the fairy tern to survive for generations to come, a win for them and for bird lovers.
Foundation North, the community trust for Auckland and Northland, recently distributed $3.4 million in grants to not-for-profit organisations and community initiatives across the region.
FAIRY TERN FACTS:
Fairy terns are critically endangered. The total population numbers fewer than 40 but that is a significant improvement on the three breeding pairs recorded in 1984, when the recovery programme began.
Last season, nine breeding pairs produced seven chicks.
The birds once nested on beaches around the North Island coast, but introduced predators, including feral cats, rats, stoats, ferrets and weasels, habitat loss and human disturbance have brought them to the brink of extinction.
They have nesting sites at Waipū and Mangawhai, in Northland, Pakiri and Papakanui, in the Auckland region.
The first eggs are laid in early summer and chicks to hatch around Christmas / New Year.
After breeding, the terns visit harbours and estuaries between Auckland and Whangārei, but mostly Kaipara Harbour.
Elsewhere, fairy terns breed in Australia and New Caledonia.