Trapping stoats, rats and possums on the Tutukaka Coast to bring back the kiwi and other birds. Read all the stories here.
The Dotterel Family: A Photo Story
Photos by Malcolm Pullman, story by Baby dotterel
Late one December afternoon, Malcolm and Nan discovered Mum and Dad’s nest in the dunes, just a scrape in the sand really.
Late in the afternoon of December 3, 2015 Malcolm and Nan discovered Mum and Dad’s nest in the dunes, just a scrape in the sand really. Ethan helped them bang in some recycled fence battens, string up some old electric fence tape and screw on some once-were-DOC signs to give us a bit of protection. The summer hordes were about to descend for their vacations on a beach that was once just vacant. The locals, they are not all extinct, quickly set up traps and some rat bait tunnels to help keep the nasties at bay.
This is Mum, alert and staunch as ever while keeping her two eggs warm ready for hatching in a few days’ time.
December 9 the people came back to find me resting just after smashing my way out of Mum’s egg. Sadly my mate next door never made it out of the other shell. The people obviously were not expecting me so soon because this picture was taken with a cell phone, not that other big, long black thing that takes those really good family shots.
That’s Dad making a big fuss with a fake broken wing display when they, the locals, were checking our scrape. Dotterels do this sort of thing to lead potential predators away from their vulnerable family gatherings. Scary eh!
This picture shows me getting to know my rather long legs on December 18 when I was just 9 days out of the egg. I am about 30 metres away from the now abandoned scrape site. Mum refused to pose for this shot but she was not very far away.
January 5 was the next time they came to take my photo. I was a leggy teenager by then, starting to show my true colours but a bit short on tail feathers. That’s Mum in the background, one of the oldies was usually not too far away. The beach was ridiculously busy by now with all the visitors, lots of them had dogs. But the fence tape was working pretty well and random people on the beach would sometimes step in and harass any dog owners who didn’t look after their mutts.
Mum had taught me how to retreat back under the tape when it got too ridiculous. That’s me heading back out from under the tape, see the shadow line, on my way down to the tideline for some easier foraging. By now I’ve learned not to eat the mangrove seeds and to step over the jellyfish.
This is an overview of my corner of paradise at Sandy Bay, it was taken just after a summer downpour on January 8. You can see the battens for the tape that fenced most of the people away from our scrape. Note also the chap with 2 dogs by the creek. I’d almost bet either Mum or Dad had already spotted him.
January 15 was the last time I saw the chap with the big camera lens. I wasn’t so scared of him by then so we got some real nice close ups. Saved me having to do any selfies. That’s Dad with the orange breast, ever watchful in the background.
I did a couple of fluttering flights that last day but the photographer wasn’t quick enough to catch them. Those flights would have been longer but as you can see there is still just a little bit of downy, fluffy stuff clinging to my nearly aerodynamic adult plumage.
Finally that’s me on the beach at Sandy Bay dreaming about a shore bird’s version of OE - summer camp with the other teenage dotterels up or down the coast, somewhere out over that blue horizon.