The Tucker Beach Wildlife reserve covers 150 hectares of the Lower Shotover River that, for many years, has been overgrown with noxious weeds and used as an unofficial dumping ground for cars and rubbish. This caused the loss of a key nesting habitat for migratory birds like the Banded Dotterels (nationally vulnerable - less than 50,000), Black-fronted Tern (nationally endangered - 5-10,000 individuals) and Black-billed Gull (nationally critical - world’s rarest gull).
In June 2017 the Friends of Tucker Beach Wildlife Reserve was formed to do something about the state of the reserve. With a vision to restore the biodiversity of this special area, a plan was formed and funding was awarded in May 2021 through Jobs for Nature. Dawn explained that years of activity has altered the soil, river flow and introduced weeds and pests meaning it cannot be returned to its former glory (before Europeans). The plan, therefore, is to create a native ecosystem that can thrive in these new conditions to allow vulnerable species to flourish and attract other birds, insects and lizards back to the area. To do this, they will clear 18 hectares of invasive plants, restore 5 hectares with native planting, control rabbit populations and trap mustelids, rats, feral cats and hedgehogs that predate on nests. Education and monitoring is also key to protecting these declining populations from extinction. Educating dog walkers about their impact on nesting birds and restricting vehicle access during the breeding season (August to February) will give them the best chance of having successful breeding that will restore populations and hopefully prevent extinction.
To learn more about this project, visit their Facebook Page, @tuckerbeachwildlifereserve, or wwww.whakatipuwildlifetrust.org.nz/tucker-beach-wildlife-reserve-project/
We are fortunate to have Banded Dotterels, Black-billed Gulls and Australasian Crested Grebes (nationally vulnerable - less than 3,000) on Lake Dunstan. This year, of the 3 dotterel nests and 5 eggs found, two chicks have been successful and are now preparing for migration to Tasmania and S.E Australia for winter. We have a real chance of increasing their presence if we all do our bit. Our project will work to promote successful breeding and we ask everyone during August - February, to be aware of nesting birds along Lake Dunstan, put your dog on a lead if you come across wildlife and drive/walk on designated paths to avoid disturbing nests.
A big thank you to everyone who attended last week, Burger Afloat for feeding the crowd and Lake Dunstan Boat Club for the venue. This event will be having a break in January and be back in February.