Big-hearted farmers fence off 20-acres for little beach birds with a taste for worms

It’s not the first time Merv and Sandra Littlejohn, both in their 70s, have discovered endangered dotterel or tūturiwhatu plonked on their cow fields. He’s pictured here, however, with an unwanted guest.


It’s not the very first time Merv and Sandra Littlejohn, both in their 70s, have actually found threatened dotterel or tūturiwhatu stuck on their cow fields. He’s imagined here, nevertheless, with an undesirable visitor.

You’ll discover dotterels, not livestock, on numerous acres of Merv and Sandra Littlejohn’s Waihī Beach farm.

The Littlejohns have actually found numerous of the threatened tūturiwhatu on their 51-hectare residential or commercial property over the previous couple of weeks– and moved a herd of 55 livestock away to secure the birds.

With dark beaks, brown cloaked backs and stained orange stomaches, the birds had actually roamed 2 kilometres inland from their normal nesting location.

“They’re charming little birds, they’re truly wonderful. They do not fly a lot, and they primarily run along the ground,” he stated.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

New Zealand dotterels are at threat at Snells Beach in Auckland. A regional homeowner captured a feline on electronic camera getting dotterel eggs from a nest and having fun with them.

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“I took stock off there due to the fact that I didn’t desire them tramping on the eggs. The dotterels are most likely covering about 20-odd acres.”

The types have a population of around 2500, making them more susceptible than some types of kiwi, the Department of Preservation states.

Coastal advancement on environment, presented predators such as pet dogs, and disruption throughout reproducing seasons had all added to the drop in numbers.

Yet the Littlejohns have actually had a couple of turn up on their doorstep over the previous 3 years, with the last flock having to do with 30 birds this previous July.

Presently, 10 dotterels are eating worms and reproducing chicks while looking for shelter from the components.

The dotterel population is about 2500, making the birds more vulnerable than some species of kiwi, the Department of Conservation says (file photo).

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

The dotterel population has to do with 2500, making the birds more susceptible than some types of kiwi, the Department of Preservation states (file picture).

One chick had Littlejohn fretted ill after a rainy night with 80mm of rain– “he was just born a couple of days back, I believed it may have drowned”.

Luckily the chick endured.

“They like to be left by themselves, they do not like to be cut off excessive,” Littlejohn stated. “They take about 5 weeks to hatch out, a lot longer than the regular birds.”

Pip Coombes, who collaborates the regional bird watch group, states the surface where the dotterels utilized to nest has actually altered drastically over the previous number of years.

“Usually the birds would reside on the beaches or on the reserve land, simply in front of the beach, however sadly the 10km we have here at Waihī Beach have actually been totally damaged by large easterly swells,” Coombes stated.

“The tides have actually been rather huge which regular nesting ground is no longer a practical location for them to nest, so they have actually moved offshore … We increased the beach to do a study and there’s physically no place … 3 to 4 metres of land has actually vanished considering that in 2015.”

The dotterels were moving into neighborhoods and farmland along the Waihī Beach area and, as more dotterels moved from the Coromandel, she anticipated the numbers to grow.

The regional neighborhood has actually gotten on board to make certain the dotterels are well looked after, Coombes stated.

“It’s attempting to put it in point of view around how threatened these birds really are and the Waihī Beach neighborhood over the previous 3 years has actually rallied round,” she stated.

There are about 10 dotterels on the Littlejohns’ farm, feeding on worms and breeding chicks while seeking shelter from the elements.


There have to do with 10 dotterels on the Littlejohns’ farm, eating worms and reproducing chicks while looking for shelter from the components.

The Littlejohns were doing their part to eliminate bugs in the location such as pūkeko, rats, plovers and other animals, and were happy caretakers to the threatened types that had actually shown up on their doorstep.

“We’re attempting to keep them plovers away, they’re Aussie birds, and they have actually got stimulates on their wings, and they’ll assault you and fly at you with their beaks,” Merv Littlejohn stated. “The pūkeko were another one taking the eggs there.

“If you ever saw [the dotterels], you ‘d fall for these birds, I’m simply caring for them and doing my bit to attempt and increase the population. There’s just 2500 left!”

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