Shelley and I have been in Port Waikato for around 5 weeks now and we are really enjoying our time here. In this blog post I’m going to share with you a day in the life of a DOC dotterel ranger. After waking up in our tent, we make breakfast and get ready for the day. Our first task is to check the traps near the site where the oyster catchers and New Zealand dotterels nest. We use the GPS to locate the fifteen traps and check the bait and reset any of the traps that have been set off. It is important to minimise the number of predators around, especially at this time of year when we have eggs and young chicks around.
Next, we make our way to the spit where the mighty Waikato River meets the sea. Here there is a fenced off area where most of the Variable Oyster Catchers and New Zealand Dotterels have their nests. This year we have 5 variable oyster catcher nests and one New Zealand Dotterel nest at this site. Over the past few weeks 3 of the oyster catcher nests and the dotterel nest have hatched. So far, we have 4 oyster catcher chicks and 2 dotterel chicks. We use our binoculars to make observations on the birds such as noting when the parents swap over for nesting duties and their feeding times as well as dates that the eggs are laid and hatched. We check up on the chicks and remind some people walking by to keep their dogs on a lead.
After checking on the nesting birds we walk back along the beautiful Sunset Beach, making observations of the bird species we find along the way. Today we found some Wrybills, Caspian Terns, South Island Pied Oyster Catchers, Pied Shags, Gannets, White Faced Heron, Bar Tailed Godwits and even a few Banded Dotterels.
When we get back to our campsite a local woman comes to find us: she found a Little Black Shag being battered by waves on the rocks because it was unable to fly away. We hurry around to her house where she has the shag in a dog carrier. Luckily the shag has no injuries, but it appears exhausted. The woman has some fresh fish, so we cut it into strips and feed to the shag which it eats with great enthusiasm! We leave the shag in a peaceful room at her house to rest away from predators ready to be released in the morning.
We have time for a swim in the ocean before going back to the campground for the evening to get ready for another day, who knows what tomorrow will bring!
BLAKE DOC Ambassador 2017