Te Henga's dotterels have had their most successful year yet.

This summer has been the most successful breeding season in the past twelve years for the dotterels at Te Henga/Bethells Beach. Two breeding pairs managed to get three chicks fledged after just one nesting attempt, a real feat, as during the previous season the sole surviving chick - JAL - was the final result of four nesting attempts.

Lesley Gardner of the dotterel minding group Te Henga Tūturiwhatu shares that six of the seven chicks successfully fledged at Te Henga over the last five years have been banded (CNW, CNY, JAL, JAM, JAN, JAP). Of the six, four have been spotted on other west coast beaches. One of this year’s chicks, JAN, has even had a passing mention in Te Kāhu Mātai Manu o Aotearoa, the magazine of the Ornithological Society of NZ.

The group of dedicated volunteers has been trapping in the dunes over the past 19 years to reduce the effects of predation of this rare bird, and are on hand each summer to remind beach goers to keep their dogs on lead on the main beach where the birds nest, so as to give the chicks the best chance of survival.

Dotterels lay three eggs each time. Since 2018 the group has seen 18 eggs (6 nests) that were predated and never hatched. 21 chicks have hatched of which 7 survived right through to fledging.

From 2010-2017 no dotterel chicks were seen to reach fledging at Te Henga. Since Te Henga Tūturiwhatu and the Te Henga/Bethells community began to protect the dotterels, they have had:

Summer 2018 - 1 chick survive
Summer 2019 - 0 chicks survived
summer 2020 - 2 chicks survived (banded CNW and CNY)
Summer 2021 - 1 chick survived (banded JAL)
Summer 2022 - 3 chicks survived (banded JAM, JAN and JAP)

They’ve been seen at Karekare (CNY), Clark’s Bay (JAL), Karaka (JAM) and Karioitahi (JAN).

Bird bands (rings) are a permanent marking technique used to identify individual birds. Bands allow researchers and conservation managers to study the life cycle (births, deaths, age of breeding), habits such as bird behaviour, breeding activities and what they eat, as well as the movements of birds.

If you find a banded bird, alive, injured or dead, fill out this online reporting form, noting the band number, date and where the bird was found. If the bird is colour banded, note the position of each colour band.

If you find an injured banded bird, throw a towel over the bird and then hold the back of its head (so you have control of the biting end), then lift the bird by supporting its body (and still holding its head) and place in a box. Take the bird to your local Bird Rescue Centre. For the Waitākere Ranges, this is Birdcare Aotearoa based in Green Bay. They care for wild birds only. If you can give a donation to help with the care of the bird it would be appreciated by the rescue centre as they are a voluntary organisation.