We are really proud to share with you the results of our Dotterel Defenders Project in 2017!! Taranaki dotterel had a bumper breeding season, despite enduring king tides, cyclones and a great summer for folks (and dogs and bikes) to enjoy beach activities! Much of this is thanks to the hard work of our volunteers - raising awareness and working to manage threats to their survival.
Overall, the Taranaki NZ dotterels monitored managed to raise an average of 1.1 fledged chicks per breeding pair. To put this in perspective, at unmanaged sites (no predator control or signage) around the country, NZ dotterels only raise 0.23 fledged chicks per breeding pair on average which is not enough to sustain the population.
Raised public awareness of threats to NZ dotterels and other shorebirds. Here are some of the signs that have been put in place.
Provided better understanding of threats to NZ dotterels, their behaviour and population numbers in Taranaki. This information will be made available for inclusion in the next national Dotterel Recovery Plan.
Improved trapping network and ongoing maintenance which will also benefit other coastal species. We set up (or resurrected) trapping networks with the help of Taranaki Regional Council) and established volunteer rosters to check the traps.
National recognition and regular contact with other groups around the country
Creation of national NZ dotterel monitoring project in Nature watch has resulted in other groups around the country utilising this to record their own data.
Highlighted other threats to sand dunes in coastal areas – eg gathering evidence of erosion and damage to dune vegetation from motor bikes . This has triggered discussion around effectiveness of policies for protecting coastal areas with District Councils – eg dog control, vehicle use.
Bought together coastal communities, local authorities and community groups – eg. the Komene 13B Maori Reservation event also included planting day with Komene 13B Maori Reservation Trustees and Taranaki Regional Council, the second Sandy Bay event included a planting day with Ngati Tara Oaonui Sandy Bay Society and DOC.
Promoted opportunities for coastal communities to take ownership and be guardians of their local area enabling active conservation management.
Provided training to community volunteers in proven ecological and cloud based citizen science methods for investigating and managing threats to wildlife.
Highlighted the importance for conservation groups conducting comparable projects to monitor and record results, improve their practices and share learnings with the wider scientific community.
Empowered students to make a difference, by providing opportunity to learn about wildlife in their local area, and become strong advocates for their conservation.
We anticipate that the project will result in better breeding success of Northern NZ Dotterel in Taranaki, however this impact will not be quantified until early 2018 when chicks have fledged.
A massive thanks to all our volunteers, local landowners, Komene 13B Maori Reservation Trustees, Rahotu School, and our partners MAIN Trust, and of course Curious Minds for funding our project.