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Pest control and volunteers vital for fairy tern breeding season


fairy-tern-on-nest-565(copy)The shorebird breeding season is in full swing and our fairy terns have started off particularly well this year.

It seems that for this season, Mangawhai is the fairy tern place to be. There are six nests. We even had three pairs nest on the same day! There will be plenty to keep Mangawhai warden, Rangi Zimmerman and volunteers busy.

Three pairs that nested at Mangawhai last season are back again for another round. Two of these pairs are sharing a shell patch so there could be some interesting interactions down the track, as each pair gets protective of their chicks.

The pair that nested at Te Arai last season have decided to give Mangawhai a shot and nested on a new shell patch that was uncovered by the weather over winter. Added into the mix is a first time breeding pair – always good news! The most recent nest is from a pair who historically nested at Waipu.

The Pindone operation carried out at Mangawhai in early July appears to have been very successful in terms of reducing rabbit numbers. This was instigated by the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society with support from DOC, NRC and local volunteers.

The New Zealand Fairy Tern Trust has received funding for a trapper at the southern end of the Mangawhai spit, ensuring further protection for the shorebirds. This frees up the warden to focus on trapping around the nesting sites. Good news indeed!

Jane Vaughan is acknowledged for organising a training day for volunteers. The volunteers are doing wonderful work covering the wardens' days off.

This year's Waipu warden is Paula-Jean (PJ) Pridham, kindly funded by Te Uri O Hau. PJ is an OSNZ member and keen fairy tern advocate.

The winter efforts at Waipu of Elaine and Rangi have been rewarded with a fairy tern pair nesting on one of the sites they prepared on the estuary side of the spit. This is great, as these sites are safe from high tides and storm surges and away from other nesting shorebirds.

However, they are still vulnerable from wandering felines. Last week PJ spotted some suspicious looking prints in the dunes behind the nest. With the help of the Shorebird Ranger, Briar Cook, they set up some cat traps temptingly baited with smoked fish. Three nights later the feral cat was caught. Here's hoping there are not more to follow!

As always, the Waipu Spit trapping group are continuing their awesome work protecting the shorebirds from rats and stoats. Anyone interested in volunteering can get in touch with DOC, as extra help out on the spit is always welcome.

BACK AGAIN: Some nesting fairy terns have returned to Mangawhai again this year. –PHOTO/DOC

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