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Report written by Eva Fernandez

Monday 28 September 2015

What a day!

1. We picked up the dotterel signs to be set up at the shell spit in Te Matuku Point
2. We stopped at Whakanewha Regional Park to meet Jonah and take a look at the dotterel breeding area and share some dotterel monitoring guidelines
3. We go to Te Matuku Point and arrive at Cyril's property at around 1:00 pm (Hue, Craig and Eva)

Monitoring Details:

a. Low tide at approximately 1 pm. Low wind and sunny with some clouds

b. We approached the shell spit from the beach opposite to it and we saw 1 dotterel at the very end of the spit showing breeding plumage but not very bright. We keep our distance and with binoculars scan the area for more. We see another dotterel very close to the other one, a pair? Hue is working on a map of the area to mark the possible territories

c. We observe them for a while and it seems like they go up the slope of the beach to the area with spear grass, very close to 3 pampas but it is hard to see if there is a nest in the distance, they do not sit

d. In the meantime we see a banded rail feeding in the mudflats behind the shell spit

e. Also, there is lots of kingfisher activity in the area behind the shell spit

f. We keep watching the dotterels through the binoculars until 1:45 pm approx. and we see another bird flying off the beach and a while later a bird flying towards the beach, suddenly there are 6 dotterels in the same area. Three came down from the high area of the beach where there is less vegetation (the saddle to the left) and the pair we saw at the end of the spit got closer. Two of them engage in what we thought was aggressive behaviour (rolling over with wing flapping) and one of them flew away. The rest dispersed

g. We decided not to approach the spit from Cyril´s side because of all the activity in the area. So we access the shell spit from the other side (the landbridge) to set up the dotterel signs. One of the signs is set up right at the entrance to the spit

h. We take a look at the spit with the binoculars and walk carefully up the beach. We find a couple of nice logs on the beach and move them to the high area to provide chick shelters. We take another look through the binoculars and make sure there is not dotterel activity and keep on walking. At the NO DOG sign we stop, as a dotterel comes flying towards us from 15-20m ahead, we decide not to walk anymore and observe through the binoculars

i. After a few minutes we see another bird close to the one that came flying towards us. And another one standing in the middle of an area clear of vegetation a bit further away. Both with bright breeding plumage

j. The second sign is set up right after the NO DOG sign. Craig observes a pair mating. There is also another interaction as previously observed which seems to be fighting, aggression between two birds

k. Hue and I walk across the tidal mudflats to observe and confirm the birds feeding at the channel edge. Up to 28 godwits, a pair of paradise shelducks, 3 pairs of oystercatchers, a pied stilt, a white-faced heron and a few gulls and spur-winged plovers

l. We come back and there are 2 dotterels in the mud very close to shore where we have put up the sign. They move away and we leave. It is around 3 pm