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Sharing our beaches this summer

WITH shorebirds now nesting on beaches across the East Coast, the Department of Conservation and Gisborne District Council are urging campers and other beachgoers to be wary of our little winged friends.

DoC Biodiversity Ranger Jamie Quirk says New Zealand dotterel, banded dotterel and variable oystercatcher nesting sites in this region are in coastal areas, around rivers and streambeds from Hicks Bay to Mahia.

“New Zealand dotterel with chicks are currently nesting at a number of places. At Turihaua Beach there has been some disturbance by people as the nests are close to the mouth of the Turihaua stream.

“We want people to avoid nesting sites, give them space and keep an eye on dogs,” Mr Quirk said.

Gisborne District Council summer and freedom camping compliance officer, Michelle Lexmond says they are working jointly with DoC to help educate people about their behaviours.

“One of the biggest issues are trailbikes and speeding vehicles on beaches, which cause long-lasting damage to our fragile ecosystems and nesting shorebirds.

“We are updating our camping signage to request people keep off the dunes and having a radio campaign promoting improved behaviours,” Mrs Lexmond said.

New Zealand dotterel will nest anywhere from the high tide mark to the base of dunes or on riverbeds.

They lay two or three eggs in nests which are well camouflaged and can be easily crushed by unsuspecting beach users.

Variable oystercatchers breed in pairs and lay two to three eggs in nests which are usually simple scrapes in the sand.

You can help in the protection of shorebirds by keeping:

' below the high tide mark

' noise to a minimum

' distance from the nests

' to marked tracks and paths wherever possible

' dogs on a leash

' vehicles off beaches and sandspits.

Fishers can further reduce their impact on the environment by being sure to take old fishing line home with them for safe disposal.

These are small and effective measures to give these birds a fighting chance this breeding season, Mr Quirk says.

“We are pleased to be continuing to work with the council in the recovery and long-term conservation of the NZ dotterel and other shorebirds.”

PLEASE TAKE CARE: Step lightly near dotterel nesting sites this summer. Picture by Rosalind Cole
WATCH OUT FOR US: Driftwood provides good cover for the dotterel chicks and a level of protection from people on foot and vehicles. Picture by Mithuna Sothieson