Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Digger and the Dotterel

Who said you can't disturb nesting birds? Yes you can when heavy machinery and Banded Dotterels clash. Read on:

Okarito has a typical West Coast river bar that often closes during dry periods. Residents then have  wait patiently while the lagoon steadily rises to a seemingly alarming height when our local Council takes action and arranges for a digger to reopen the bar.

It just so happens that the beach is home to many Banded Dotterels who nest precariously in small scrapes in the sand.  Every spring they successfully raise pairs of chicks despite the mortal hazards of rogue waves, falcons, gulls, whitebait fishers, dogs, quad bikes, 4wd's, playing children and beach walkers.

Well a couple of years back the digger had begun the work to open the bar when I discovered a Dotterel nest right in it's path. Bugger! What to do? Contact DOC? Nah! Shift the digger?  Hell no - he'd been going for two hours!  I looked down on the poor wee bird sitting on her clutch of two eggs and said "lady your only chance is to move home".

So I made a little scape in the sand a metre away and picked up her eggs, plus the few sticks she had as furniture, and relocated her nest. I stood back and sure enough she trotted over and settled down again. "Good girl, now we'll do that again".

I repeated the process and the bird complied again. Well after a few hours and many more moves I moved Mrs Dotterel and her brood over 50 m out of harms way. Amazing. Towards the end she was clearly getting grumpy with my interference. She'd run between my legs with her wing down with a rather pained look in her eye "surely this is far enough?".

 Lesson is that birds are far more tolerant than what we are taught to expect, especially species that live amongst our daily activities.

1 comment:

  1. Hope the dotterels are still thriving. Good lesson learnt.