Endangered Dotterels and Chicks on a New Zealand Beach

Out of the corner of my eye I see little balls of fluff bouncing and hovering across the beach. These baby dotterels stop to forage for food. Camera in hand, I attempt to focus on one of the endangered chicks although its camouflage makes it challenging. As a result of this lack of contrast, I would imagine these birds to be somewhat safe from predators. However, talking to the park ranger, it is evident why these endemic birds are endangered. They are not very bright. They nest too close to the sea, lay their eggs on the sand where children play, and the chicks scurry about in the open. Furthermore, their greatest danger is humans encroaching on their habitat.

This is an endangered adult dotterel on Te Haruhi beach in Shakespear Park, Auckland, New Zealand

This is an endangered adult dotterel on a beach at Shakespear Park. The park ranger roped off the area after the bird chose her nesting spot. Her rusty red belly is a sign that it is breeding season (otherwise, it would be white).

These are two endangered dotterel chicks on Te Haruhi beach in Shakespear Park, Auckland, New Zealand

These are two endangered dotterel chicks on the same beach, well outside their protected area.

Camouflaged endangered dotterel chicks on Te Haruhi beach in Shakespear Park, Auckland, New Zealand

Do you see the camouflaged dotterel chick?

Endangered dotterel chick on Te Haruhi beach in Shakespear Park, Auckland, New Zealand

I made it more obvious for you.

Endangered dotterel chick on Te Haruhi beach in Shakespear Park, Auckland, New Zealand

Another chick highlighted.

A view of Te Haruhi Beach in Shakespear Park, Auckland, New Zealand

A broader view of Te Haruhi Beach.

The sign near the roped off area where the dotterels nest in Te Haruhi Beach in Shakespear Park, Auckland, New Zealand

I shot all of the above photos rather quickly after reading this sign near the roped off area where the dotterels nest.

The sign reads: I Need My Space!

  • I am an endangered New Zealand dotterel.
  • Please give me space
  • My eggs and chicks are easily harmed
  • Keep away from fenced areas
  • Please don’t linger.

Here are two other dotterel photos I shot in New Zealand. The first in the far north just before Sarah left for Argentina, and the second at the Auckland Zoo.

New Zealand dotterel

New Zealand dotterel

More about New Zealand dotterels:

  • New Zealand dotterels breed in spring. You can sometimes spot them on sandy beaches, sandspits, and tidal estuaries on the North Island. If you do, give them their space. I used an Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II with a zoom lens and kept my distance for all the shots above.
  • They are plovers that grow to only 25 cm (less than 10 inches) in height.
  • Only about 1,700 dotterels remain (estimated).
  • The Māori name is “tuturiwhatu”.
  • Check out the Department of Conservation’s official website for more information on these birds.

Have you seen dotterels on your local beach? Or, if you live outside of New Zealand, have you seen other endangered birds on your beaches?

If you enjoyed this article, please share it on social media including Pinterest:

Photos of endangered dotterel in Shakespear Park, Auckland, New Zealand

This post is linked at Through My Lens, BeThere2Day for Wordless Wednesday on Tuesday, Our World Tuesdays, Travel Tuesday, Ruby Tuesday Too, and Outdoor Wednesday.

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  1. Kim Marie Ostrowski says

    They’re cute.

    Oh little fact

    I read years ago that clam shells with the purple underside was wampum…or what was used as money with native Americans (the least…maybe Canadians too)

  2. says

    Hi Rhonda – I see they’re protecting your species … we have them here and I’m sure that there aren’t that many in the northern hemisphere, but they’re not is so much danger. Wonderful photos – and remind us what species are out there … cheers Hilary

  3. says

    I love birds! My cousin was a bird lover and when she was dying of breast cancer we had bird feeders next to her bedroom windows. She got so much pleasure from watching them. So, I will always have a special place in my heart for birds!

  4. says

    Humans are a danger to many living things. It’s always been that way. The old ways were take what you need and use all you take, then that changed and the buffalo almost went to the wayside. Greed. Oh well off topic a bit, but it’s the same thing. Not thinking long term.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  5. says

    That is so good that the species is protected. I am not sure if I saw this same bird in the sanctuary here… they all look so similar from a distance. Need to deelop some sharp observation skills now.

  6. says

    It is good that they have fenced off their nesting area but the little chicks will wander off. I hope every visitor takes heed of the sign and not disturb or harm the birds.

  7. says

    So you live in New Zealand. What scenery! It’s amazing and you do know a great picture when you see one. I truly appreciate you sharing your country’s beauty with us. I live very close to Fox River here in the U.S. I really need to get out more and get some pics for my friends. Maybe when the weather gets better, and I get my shot. I’m workin’ on that believe you me. Thank you for stopping by. hugs

  8. says

    these birds remind me of our Killdeer- they are not beach birds but more “in the garden with you birds.”
    They lay their eggs on the ground-never mind where we have our feet…so one has to keep a sharp eye
    out for the little darlings. The Killdeer babies come out of the egg running- just like Quail babies do.
    We humans have to mind our manners and watch where we walk. Have a lovely day!

    • says

      I have never heard of Killdeer, but they do sound like they are offering themselves the same survival challenge as the dotterel. I looked them up, they are also plovers.

      • says

        ahah! I did not know they were in the Plover family! Last night we watched for
        the second time ” The Big Year” about bird watching. What a fun movie!
        Cheers and Happy New Year! Kathe

  9. says

    Wow! they are not that bright but they are cute. And as the shore is my favorite place in the world, I love these pictures even more.
    Happy Wednesday and happy new year!

  10. says

    Rhonda, you did a good job capturing these shots of the endangered mama bird and her chicks. I do not live on a beach, so no I haven’t seen any endangered beach-dwelling birds. However, on the rarest of occasions, we might spot a bald eagle in the Smoky’s. I’m not very good at getting photos of birds unless they are perched on a tree limb, powerline, or by chance on the ground groveling for food. I loved your beach shots, especially the bird habitat sign and of Te Haruhi Beach. Thank you for stopping by but did you link up? You’re most welcome to join my linky party, if you want. 😉

  11. says

    I hope they get off the endangered list. looks like they are doing what they can to help them – I love bird watching would love to see those thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. says

    Great birding shots, Rhonda. Hope the little guys do well with a little help from the rangers and memebrs fo the public.
    Thanks for taking part in the Travel Tuesday meme. Happy New Year!

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