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WHC aiming to build new roost for birds

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

An exciting development is underway for a high tide roost in our harbour for migrating and resident wading birds. “This will be quite a mountain to climb, in terms of getting consent conditions met, but it will be hugely beneficial to the harbour birds that use our harbour to rest and recover,” says John Adams, the project’s leader, within the Whangamata Harbour Care group.

Presently in its planning stage, John is leading a team of engineers and knowledgeable ‘bird’ experts, to design a suitable harbour bird roost, and liaise with local council to gain approval. Arctic breeding species, such as the bar-tailed godwit, and red knot, use our harbour to recover, before undertaking their 15,000km return flight back to their breeding grounds in Alaska.

The problem with their current resting site, is that it is surrounded by a lot of human activity. It’s adjacent to the children’s playground on the Beach Road reserve, which is also frequented by dog walkers, families picnicking, swimmers and other water sports activities. The area is also where visitor cars and motorhomers park – and as we approach the summer holidays, these activities increase, meaning that these special birds may never recover sufficiently, to survive their long flight home.

Families also enjoying the small, sandy strip which is the resting place of long-haul flyers.

“The number of both seasonal visiting and resident bird species utilising our harbour have reduced considerably over the past 20-30 years”, points out John. “This is because of the reduction in quality and loss of essential habitat, including that of suitable low-disturbance roosting sites. Unless the factors threatening the remaining roosting site for waders are eliminated, the harbour will soon cease to be a home for these birds”.

Unfortunately sea level rise, mangrove spread and human disturbance factors are all unlikely to be resolved sufficiently or soon enough to prevent this from happening, which is why, Plan B, is building a high tide wader roost.

A drawing of the proposed roost, and it’s location will be drawn up shortly, and made available for viewing on the Whangamata Harbour Care’s website If you have an interest in this project, sign up on the website, and become a member!

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