Will the Tāmaki Estuary lose the last of its shorebirds?

After surveyors interrupted the start of the breeding season at Point England I was worried about what someone might be planning. With fantastic support from Auckland Council we have been looking after the endangered New Zealand Dotterel that nest in the paddock for several years now.

It’s been hard work but the dog walkers in particular have been awesome, and we have had some real highs like the fledging of our first dotterel chick and regular visits from one of New Zealand most critically endangered birds the shore plover.

The paddocks have cows which keep the grass short, but the birds do not come for the grass. Migratory birds like bar-tailed godwits fly from the other side of the world to feed in the expansive mud flats of the Tamaki Estuary. When the tide comes in all the wading birds seek refuge above the high tide line. But if you look on Google you will see there are no roosting areas along the margins of the Tamaki. There is some green but it comes with trees, dogs or rugby balls. So the majority of the white faced herons, royal spoonbill, South Island oystercatchers, variable oystercatchers, New Zealand dotterel, banded dotterel and pied stilts all make there way to the paddocks. For most of the year there are small ponds in the paddock so when a harrier flies over and sends hundreds of birds into the air its like your’e in a David Attenborough documentary.

So this was released today. A bill to turn 11.7ha of the 48ha reserve into 300 houses will be introduced to Parliament tomorrow. It doesn’t mention any wildlife whatsoever.

Here is my map of the area which shows where nationally vulnerable dotterel have nested in the past (this will now be houses).

I asked Auckland Council about the surveyors and was told they could tell me nothing. I have lots of signage in the area and yet no one has consulted with me or anyone who works with the birds.

When the houses, people dogs and cats come, where will the Tāmaki birds go? For those of you who know Tahuna Torea its a beautiful place but its not suitable habitat for wading birds. Dotterel have never bred there and with the mangroves, trees and people it is no longer the primary resting place of Torea (Oystercatcher). That job has been Point Englands for decades. Data here.

So with this last development will the Tāmaki Estuary lose the last of its shorebirds?

Follow the development at savePE.org.nz