One of the consequences of our fondness for beaches is pressure on native birds that live there. Whilst sea gulls may seem very robust, other birds are less so. One is the endangered NZ dotterel or tūturiwhatu. There’s only about 1700 birds left of this species, and the North Island populations are only found in the upper north. The nesting strategy for this bird is a simple scrape in the ground. This means the nests are easily damaged or disturbed by well, almost anything. This includes people, dogs, SUVs etc.
Close to where I live is the Okura reserve and there is an isolated sweep of beach (near the old Dancre cottage) that has a small population. Some days I’ve hiked out there with one of my sons and we’ve just sat, watching them through binoculars. I have for sometime, been trying to get some good pictures of them as well. Open beach is not easy to get close to birds with, and avoid startling or scaring them.
Last week I succeeded with a bit of planning and a bit of luck. One the planning side, I dressed carefully in stone or khaki clothing to blend into the beach. A stone-coloured brimmed hat finished the look, and I eschewed sunglasses. There would be no dark areas on my body or outline. There was also a large log washed up on the beach I could conceal myself behind by laying beside it. I had about an hour there, able to watch and take pictures. For the first time I ended up with a series that didn’t require cropping. In fact, the birds seemed curious about the shutter sound and came closer than I expected. Here’s a sample: