Aucklanders urged to watch out for dotterels nesting in 'bizarre' places

11:12 am on 16 August 2023
There are just over 2000 northern New Zealand dotterels, and they are found around much of the North Island. Another subspecies now breeds only on Stewart Island.

Auckland Council is asking locals to report any sighting of dotterels in unusual places. Photo: CC BY 2.0 Chris Gin

Storm surges and cyclones have made it a hard year for many, and Auckland's wild life is no exception.

The dotterel / tūturiwhatu usually nests in coastal beach areas for breeding but the wild weather has seen the vulnerable birds have one of their worst breeding seasons in over a decade.

Auckland Council is urging people to be on the look out for the birds - as some find unusual spots to nest this year.

Auckland Council senior conservation advisor Ben Paris told Morning Report it was not a good summer for dotterels.

"They are in a very dynamic coastal environment, and the cyclone and weather events weren't very friendly to them. A lot of their nests got washed away in the storm events.

"They're very resilient birds, trying to nest again, but it didn't really help this time, and we didn't have as a good a breeding season as we usually do."

He said in the most recent breeding season, there were 74 chicks from 172 pairs that were monitored.

"That gives us a 0.3 chicks per monitored pair ... which we believe anything below 0.5 a is a bad result. Sometimes these birds do have a bad season."

Paris said dotterels were turning up at some "weird and wonderful" places like shopping malls, car parks, roading construction, parks, and golf courses.

"It's really bizarre places, so we're asking Aucklanders to have a look out for these birds and let Auckland Council know if you see them."

He said they would nest in disturbed ground and lay eggs that look a little like rocks.

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