First fairy tern hatches, bringing new hope
Despite the weather conspiring against the survival of one of New Zealand’s most endangered birds the first fairy tern chick of the season has hatched at Pakiri.
The chick hatched on Saturday, taking the critically endangered species’ numbers up to 41.
“Although it is early days for the chick and the risks are high, we are hopeful he or she will continue to do well and fledge later in summer,” Department of Conservation (DOC) adviser on threatened species Tony Beauchamp said.
“This breeding season has been disrupted by a higher number of lows across the central Tasman that have delivered repeated high wind events. Last year we had five chicks fledge but we are likely to have fewer chicks this year.”
The New Zealand fairy terns breed at only five sites: four on Northland’s east coast between Waipu¯ and Pakiri and one at Papakanui Spit near the Kaipara Harbour south head.
A dedicated team of four fairy tern DOC rangers have been busy since September trapping predators near nesting sites and preventing nesting birds from being disturbed by humans.
The public can also help one of the world’s rarest birds by staying out of taped-off or fenced areas and using designated walkways, taking a wide berth around nests and chicks, keeping dogs on leads, removing bait, fish and rubbish to deter predators and driving vehicles below the high tide mark. Anyone being chased or squawked at — or if a bird is on the ground pretending to be injured — is possibly too close to a nest.
The odds have been stacked against the NZ fairy tern in the past but this new chick brings new hope, at least for this year.