“When mooring access comes before world’s rarest shore bird our society is insane.” so begins an article in the NZ Herald this week by Mark Bellingham
Mangawhai Harbour is promoted as a water-lovers’ paradise and the perfect launch pad for surfers, boaties and recreational fishers. But some locals are gunning for significant development of the natural landscape with little regard for the importance and fragility of the harbour’s wildlife.
Many people don’t realise Mangawhai Harbour is critical to the survival of New Zealand fairy terns.
Fairy terns are New Zealand’s rarest shore bird. There are just 43 left in the world. Each one is so vital to the species’ survival that the Department of Conservation (DoC) and volunteers take turns to watch over the birds in shifts, at nesting sites during the breeding season.
This critically endangered species once bred around the North Island and upper South Island, but is now confined to four nesting sites north of Auckland.
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Waipu Wildlife Refuge also has Fairy Terns nesting. An active group regularly traps, and fences off the nesting sites. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE DOGS TO THE END OF WAIPU COVE BEACH
Ali McDonald from DOC Whangarei writes:
Fifteen years ago I watched David Attenborough’s ‘The Private Life of Plants’ and almost overnight it transformed my perception of the flora that surrounded me, from the benign green stuff I took for granted into a complicated and surprisingly sophisticated world of intrigue. Though I have long been an admirer of birds it is fair to say my short time spent working closely with our little tara iti (New Zealand fairy tern) has had a similar effect. Read more
Article from the Latest Bream Bay News – Read it on line here
Department of Conservation ranger Ali McDonald said the chicks, in separate nests at different ends of the sandspit, coped well with the heavy downpours in the last week of December and now have most of their juvenile feathers.
Just before Christmas they were banded with metal rings on their legs, which will identify them for the fairy tern volunteers and DOC staff who are working on the recovery of this very endangered bird species. Ali said the chicks are exercising their wing muscles and have been making short flights.
They are starting to practise fishing for themselves though they will be reliant on their parents for some time to feed them enough to meet their energy demands.
“The good news is they are now at an age where they have the option of flying away from some of the numerous threats which made them so vulnerable as chicks, however this is only if they can react in time and predators such as cats and harrier hawks certainly remain a very real.”
The Fairy Tern Charitable Trust is trying to raise awareness and money to help this critically endangered species. Some of these birds nest and feed in Waipu and Ruakaka Wildlife Sanctuaries.
[Gallery not found]With a population of less than 40 birds including just 10-12 breeding pairs the New Zealand fairy tern Tara-iti is New Zealand’s rarest endemic breeding bird.