Fairy Terns are once again eyeing up Mangawhai Spit to begin their mating rituals, and this year they have received a helping hand from a crew of banking personnel.
BNZ’s annual ‘Closed for good’ day on August 31, a day when employees lend a hand to different organisations, saw ten people from various Auckland branches ferried across Mangawhai Harbour to the Spit where they assisted New Zealand Fairy Tern Charitable Trust volunteers to protect the nesting sites of the endangered birds.
Organiser of volunteers for the Trust, Jane Vaughan, says they were thrilled to have the extra support.
“Such a bright bunch of young people, strong, fit and enthusiastic to learn about the birds,” she says. ”They seemed to have a lot of fun… and they picked up the ropes easily. We were able to put up the walkways and fences for the shell patch areas where the birds will hopefully lay eggs.”
BNZ staff spent five hours on the Spit, digging holes, hammering in posts and attaching electric warning tape around the 75 metre enclosure.
Fairy Terns spend winter in Kaipara Harbour before returning to Mangawhai’s wildlife refuge to impress a mate and breed, generally between October and January.
“The males are already casing the joint for nesting purposes and sizing each other up,” Vaughan says. “They can get quite stroppy when claiming their shell patch and are already eyeing up the ladies.”
Six birds were seen on the day, ‘a good start’ however they only lay one or two eggs a season and, with just 10-12 breeding pairs out of a population of under 40, fairy tern’s are rated as New Zealand’s rarest breeding bird.
The Fairy Tern Trust’s 12 volunteers assist the Department of Conservation (DOC) by taking over the bird-watching shifts on the two days every week DOC workers are not available.
Vaughan says basically the job is to observe and record the bird’s activity and nesting behaviour with each shift usually taking a minimum of two hours.
“We could always do with more volunteers so if anyone is interested please give me a call for more information.”
n Contact Jane Vaughan, 09 431 5828 or email email@example.com
- BY JULIA WADE