Dotterel set for breeding season

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 41, September 2012

Environmental clean-up specialists Braemar Howells has been busy cleaning a New Zealand dotterel habitat site on Matakana Island, with the breeding season under way.
Butterfat from Rena
Maritime New Zealand ©2019
Dotterel expert John Dowding with an endangered New Zealand dotterel.

Braemar Howells community liaison coordinator Adam Desmond said clean-up operations were being managed across the coast, but recent priority has been put on getting the dotterel breeding site on Matakana Island clear of debris.

Surveys of areas favoured by breeding dotterels were completed on Matakana Island in July, and collection of debris has since been under way. This flotsam includes plastic gloves, plyboards, plastic beads, timber, and food packets.

“We have made it an absolute priority to clear the Matakana dotterel site so that we don’t interfere with their breeding season. Rena recovery work will not take place on the island during the breeding season as endangered wildlife will always take precedence,” Adam said.

Meanwhile, Massey University is tracking wildlife that spent time at the oiled wildlife response facility following the Rena grounding.

Sixty threatened dotterels were caught to prevent them from becoming oiled – a process known as pre-emptive capture. These birds were housed in captivity for three months until the risk of oiling had passed and they could be returned to the wild.

Post-release monitoring of these birds started as soon as they were released, and will continue for a minimum of 12 months.

The key objectives of this programme are to: „„

  • estimate the effects of the oil spill on the New Zealand dotterel populations in the Bay of Plenty
  • „„investigate dispersal and survival of New Zealand dotterels following their release „
  • assess the impact of pre-emptive capture on breeding success.

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