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  • Writer's pictureRose Parsons

Banded Dotterel bird count at Marlborough’s East Coast.

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

Driftwood Eco Tours supports the Marlborough East Coast Protection Group, Will is a committee member and has more recently been passing on his considerable experience with the trapping of mustelids.

The MECPG was set up by the East Coast rural community in response to the up raise of the coastline as a result of the November 14 Earthquake. At midnight the coastline rose by 1-2 metres, wreaking devastation on the marine life on the delicate tidal zone. It was only after the community had resumed to a more normal way of life again that it was realised that the uplift and caused another unforeseen issue for the wildlife of the East Coast. The beach once only accessible by Quadbikes at low tide was now accessible by any vehicle all day. This coupled with the gradual increase in population has increased the disturbance of the ecology of the coast. A visible example of this is the banded dotterel which nests at the high tide mark and is vulnerable to dogs, humans, vehicles and introduced pests like stoats.

On Saturday the 3rd of August, we set out to join a group of volunteers to count how many of these delightful little birds had arrived from the north to pair up for nesting in the spring from Marfell’s beach to the Cape Campbell Lighthouse.

As so many people had come to help out we elected to count Ward Beach to the Chancet Rock and further south. We almost at once sighted a beautiful pair of Black Fronted Dotterel, unusual for the area. However all we found on the beach walk were tyre tracks. It was heart-warming to see a dad and his son exploring rock pools.

The coastline is at times dramatic with wave sculptured rock forms evidence that this beach was once pounded by the waves of the Pacific. The rock pools are murky, it is not surprizing that after over 2 years this tidal zone is still struggling to restore to the dynamic coastal ecosystem it once was.

A delightful discovery south of Ward at Wharenui was a rock pool with a small fish, whelk and a large crab in it. So nature is slowly healing herself. Down but not out.

We can still continue our cherished Kiwi ‘way of life’ however we need to think about how we do things if we want our grandchildren to have this privilege. For many overseas is no longer recognized as normal.

The other team at Cape Campbell had better news and counted pairs of Banded dotterel plus one ferret was caught in a trap. It is possible that seasonality means that the dotterel are late arriving.

You can keep up with the Trust’s activities or join, volunteer or sign up on their Facebook page

You can read about what our conservation projects and what is important to us on our website page. We would love your feedback. Will and Rose

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