As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Saturday 30 March 2013

Rare birds recovering from maritime oil spill

One of the world's rarest birds appears to have recovered in numbers after New Zealand's worst-ever maritime environmental disaster, experts announced Wednesday.
Monitoring of the New Zealand dotterel population, which is endangered and estimated to number just 1,700 in the wild, showed birds captured after the oil spill from a Liberian-registered cargo ship in October 2011 had recovered well, according to the Massey University.

About 120 dotterels were in the area when the Rena grounded on the Astrolabe Reef, off the eastern North Island, and 60 were taken into captivity to keep them out of the path of the oil and kept as an "insurance" population.

Relocation of the birds and release elsewhere would have only resulted in them quickly returning to their breeding territories, said a statement from the university.

Independent shorebird ecologist Dr. John Dowding, who had been monitoring the birds since they were released at the end of 2011, said more than three-quarters of the dotterels taken into captivity were alive a year later.

"There were some losses in the first month after release -- probably due to the respiratory condition that killed six birds while they were captive -- but after that survival has been normal, " Dowding said in the statement.

Once dotterels begin breeding, they typically remain at the same site for many years.

"As it was not always possible to catch both birds in a pair, some pairings were disrupted during the pre-emptive capture," he said.

However, most of the survivors were paired and breeding again and numbers at most of the important sites were similar to those before the grounding.

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