Written by Andy Wills/DOC
The 2009/10 season has been very successful for the New Zealand Dotterel Watch program on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. This program is a partnership between Newmont Mining, Waihi, Department of Conservation, and local volunteer Dotterel Minders.
New Zealand Dotter (IOC name is New Zealand Plover). © Steve Barker
This season has produced 98 fledglings from 150 pairs of NZ Dotterel, across 46 monitored sites, making it our most successful season in the last five years. There are a number of elements which have contributed to this.
Increase in breeding pairs monitored at 46 sites around the Coromandel Peninsula.
Productivity value = average number of chicks fledged per breeding pair. P= 0.65* (*current minimum value – chicks yet to fledge @ 1 March 2010). Management is considered effective if productivity values are greater than 0.5 for three consecutive years or longer (Dowding & Davis, 2007). Seventh consecutive season where p>0.5 has been achieved.
The program would not be the success it is without the many Dotterel minders on the peninsula who give up their time to help these endangered birds during the breeding season. They help set up rope fences and signs around nest sites, in educating the public about the Dotterels and sometimes help with trapping.
The sponsorship from Newmont Mining Waihi, which enables the Department to employ a full-time Dotterel Ranger over the 6 month breeding season. The ranger works in with local minders to provide technical, logistical and operational support for the Coromandel NZ Dotterel Watch Minder Network.
We have also increased the trapping around the beaches. This has enabled us to catch greater numbers of Hedgehogs, Rats, Stoats and Feral cats which predate on the Dotterel nests.
This year the Thames Coromandel District Council have introduced new Dog bylaws which have restricted dog activity to a number of the main nest sites which has provided further protection to the Dotterels.
Overall we were quite lucky with the weather this year; we didn’t get too many big easterly swells and not many big tides either.
The NZ Dotterel Watch program has been running since 1998, there is now a greater awareness with the general public, resulting in fewer disturbances to breeding areas. We are continually looking at ways which we can improve on previous seasons.