Monday, October 23, 2017
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Oystercatchers back on Mount beach

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Amidst holiday-makers, surfers and volley-ballers, a pair of variable oystercatchers on the Mount Main beach successfully raised two chicks.

That was 2016. The year before they raised three.

It’s September and already the pair are taking romantic strolls at dawn and looking for that perfect hollow in the sand to establish their newest nest.

Known as Harry and Sophie, they’ve become minor celebrities, appearing on national television, and featured in their own Facebook page.

More importantly, they’ve helped raise awareness of the need to keep the area dog-free.

During the 2016 summer season, the Department of Conservation placed a protective fence around the bird’s nest, and sand bags were added to protect against high tides.

Variable oystercatchers breed in monogamous pairs, and defend territories vigorously against neighbours.

Dotterel on Mount Main beach. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

Nests are normally simple scrapes in the sand, often with a marker of driftwood, vegetation, or flotsam.

The two or three eggs are usually laid from October onwards. Incubation is shared and takes about 28 days.

Chicks fly at six to seven weeks old, and late chicks may not fledge until March.

Dotterels are also starting to make themselves at home at the Mount.

A vulnerable species, only 2075 northern New Zealand dotterels were counted in the 2011 breeding season census. Their main threats? Humans, dogs, cats, stoats and rats. 

To keep up with the oystercatcher’s antics, visit their Facebook page here.


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