Beach birds: mapping hotspots for banded dotterels
Our beach birds study got underway this year on the uplifted Marlborough and Kaikōura coast beaches. In early December we completed a baseline survey of where Banded Dotterel nesting grounds are found, all the way from Oaro in the south to Marfells Beach in the north. That was a lot of walking for our team of three! The beach birds study aims to identify the most important nesting locations and assess interactions with human activities along the earthquake-affected coast. Knowledge of these sites fills a gap for coastal planning, especially where the beaches have changed. One of the best known locations is in South Bay where local researcher Ailsa Howard has been conducting a study on breeding success. Ailsa has found that the success rate is very low, suggesting that more needs to be done to help these birds!
The whole-coast survey has found that hotspots occur throughout the study area, but are very patchy in their distribution. Protecting these areas is important since the ground-nesting birds are extremely vulnerable to threats. Future studies will characterise the types of threats that occur at representative locations to identify conservation needs and practical strategies for protecting nesting grounds across the wider coast.