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.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Tragedy strikes Critically Endangered New Zealand shore plover population


Unknown cause for disappearance of Critically Endangered birds
February 2013. The critically endangered New Zealand shore plover population on Waikawa (Portland Island) has been dealt a harsh blow.

World population of just 200 birds
When Helen Jonas, New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) team leader for the shore plover recovery on Portland Island visited late last year, she discovered the island population had been reduced to a quarter of what it was, and now just 20 birds remain. The total world population has been reduced to about 200 birds. "This has a huge impact on the viability of the species" said Ms Jonas, as Waikawa was considered to be a safe and stable population.

The privately owned island has been a safe sanctuary to the shore plover for the past thirteen years. The numbers had built up to a point where the population was contributing eggs to other predator free islands. This season's planned egg translocation turned into a rescue attempt.

Unknown cause
We didn't know what the issue was and unfortunately we still don't know Ms Jonas said. It could have been disease, predation by gulls or hawks, mustelid, rat, cat or even a dog that's come over with a visitor to the island. As a precaution 12 Shore plover eggs were removed from the island and taken to Mount Bruce Pukaha in Wairarapa and Isaac's Wildlife Centre in Christchurch for incubation. The juveniles are planned to be released on Mana Island next month.

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