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Following the fairy terns



thumbnail Stu Murray-913I was involved in fairy tern observations from 1946-1950 while at primary school. This was in conjunction with my uncle Louis Wintle and aunty Ada May.

There was also a friend of theirs, Ann Shirley, who would accompany us. She was the editor of the children’s half page on the back of the Saturday Herald. We would go out three or four times November to January.

I’m unaware whether the oldies kept any permanent records but my memories tell me there were chicks fledged every year. My memory also tells me they nested nearer the ocean than today and they were always about 20 metres above high water mark and in that time none were overcome by storms.

I also recall conversations about some pairs having two sittings in the one season. One year there were three nesting pairs but one didn’t start sitting till the two earlier ones were nearly flying. There were always one, two or three chicks fledged.

As we are all aware, predators are the major problem these delightful birds have in life. That includes humans. This predator problem is probably hundreds of times worse today than just after World War II. My comment is they are reproducing at the same rate as 70-plus years ago, which I say is remarkable effort. Reduce the predator problem more by all means possible and nature will surely take its own course.

The late 40s and early 50s I spent much time at Langs Beach at the Northern end. Being interested in our feathered friends it was very noticeable the fairies flying past. They were feeding just outside the break, or if it was calm they would be right at the tide mark. As they were flying both ways numbers couldn’t be ascertained, nor did we know if they were of Mangawhai or Waipu vintage. We also saw them feeding when we fished on both sides of Bream Tail.

Reduce the predator problem more… and nature will surely take its own course.

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