Endangered NZ Dotterel

For those of you who have a passion for birding, Henderson Bay is a great place for you to maybe see the endangered, endemic NZ dotterel, or tuturiwhatu as it is known in Maori.

With a population of around 1700, this small wading bird is one of our rarest birds with their numbers steadily declining. In Henderson Bay we are privileged to have a few pairs that come and nest yearly. However, they nest just above the high tide mark and their eggs can be swept away with king tides and storm surges so one of our locals keeps an eye out for them during the nesting season between October and February. When the nests are found they are fenced off to try and give the birds the best chance of survival.

This has the added advantage of marking quite clearly for people where they are nesting, and with a slow, steady, non threatening approach it is possible to get within a couple of metres of their nest. Also by marking where they are nesting, hopefully people will not step on the eggs, quad bikes will not run over them and people walking their dogs will not let them near the nests.

During the breeding season one bird will sit on the nest while the other one will go and feed. It is fascinating watching the one on the nest run out and do a “broken wing” routine to try and distract anyone that tries to get too close. However, bear in mind that if the birds are trying to lure you away from their nest, then they are not sitting on the eggs.

In 2013 our birds where the only ones in the whole area that successfully hatched and raised chicks.

Click on each photo below to view more detail.

All photos have been taken at Otaipango – Henderson Bay