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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

New Zealand - Bethells Beach

 October 13th

Now back from Queenstown, I had heard from the family that Bethells Beach held breeding New Zealand Dotterel, one of the birds I was hoping to see on our visit.

I had already visited the beach previously courtesy of Shaun when we went for a look see with Quinn, it’s a beautiful black sand beach with a pretty wild coastline.

Needless to say it attracts Surfers, Dog Walkers and Ramblers which keeps the birds on the move, on our 1st visit I saw 3 birds distantly which quickly disappeared with the level of traffic down the beach.
Hence I made a visit on the above date leaving the family home in darkness and arriving as dawn arrived, no one else was here except the mad Englishman.

Walking up to the beach produced Kingfisher, Eastern Rosella, California Quail (males are smart), Fantails and Silvereyes, a good start as I hit the main beach.

I had only started the long walk up, being mindful to keep well down and away from the sand dunes where they breed, when up pops a New Zealand Dotterel. 

Smart looking waders somewhere in between a Ringed and Grey Plover for size, they are endangered and there are only around 1700 birds left in New Zealand.

Once a common bird, the decline is due to habitat loss (a familiar story in the UK), predation by introduced mammals and disturbance.

I ended up finding 2 on the beach; their breeding season is from late September to March so I suspect the 2 that I saw have only just arrived/started to breed.

One good thing what they do here is to identify the nests and then put an exclusion zone around each nest. 

During the beach walk I was glancing out to sea occasionally to see what passed, Red Billed Gulls, Pied Shags, Gannets, White Fronted Terns and a small Tern that could have been a Fairy Tern, a distant Shearwater could have been anything.

A good visit and well worth the walk down the beach for the scenery alone.

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