Two dotterel chicks hatched on Mount beach

Photos taken by Glenis Richards. Video by Nicola Moss.

Click the image above to watch the video

The pair of dotterels nesting on Mount Main Beach have successfully hatched two chicks.

The dotterels laid their eggs within metres of the Mount Surf Lifesaving Club, the nest just a simple scrape in the sand.

On Sunday, the two newly-hatched chicks were seen running around over the beach following their parents, and then taking cover as sea gulls passed overhead. Dotterels are difficult to spot on the beach, as their feathers are similar colours to the sand and beach flotsam.

A total of 2075 northern New Zealand dotterels was counted in the 2011 breeding-season census.

The main threats are loss of eggs and chicks to mammalian and avian predators, disturbance from human activities on beaches, loss of nests to big tides, and loss or degradation of habitat from development.

Protection programmes began in the 1980s and normally include predator control, fencing of nesting areas, appointment of wardens to reduce disturbance and advocacy.

New Zealand dotterels breed in monogamous pairs and vigorously defend territories against other dotterels.

The nests of northern New Zealand dotterels are simple scrapes in the substrate, sometimes sparsely lined or decorated, often with a marker of driftwood or vegetation.

Three eggs are laid, usually from August or September, and are replaced if lost. Incubation usually takes 28-30 days; the fledging period is variable, but averages about six weeks.

The dotterel chicks should be able to fly by about the beginning of February. In the meanwhile, they faces the threats of humans, dogs, cats, rats, and the night time beach groomer.

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