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Christmas 2013

Omaha Shorebird Protection Trust News

Planting success

Native restoration planting in the back dunes outside the fence took place on 18 August. It was a pleasant surprise that planting was completed in one session thanks to a good turnout of enthusiastic Trust supporters and the local community. Initially some plants were grazed by rabbits but a repellent spray was effective and ongoing rabbit control by the Trust has reduced the problem. Some weeds are deliberately allowed to grow to provide shade to new plants in hot summer conditions. Weeding of invasive species such as gorse, Apple of Sodom and fleabane is a regular Trust activity.

Then came the storm of Wednesday, September 25. Strong southeast winds and a high tide overnight combined to drive heavy seas into Omaha Bay, particularly at the northern end. The next day an inspection revealed that a section of the pest-proof fence on the southern groyne had been torn from its mountings and folded back on itself and in a couple of places the ground had been washed away from under the fence. North of the fence waves had washed completely over the sand dunes and flowed out into the estuary on the western side. Some of the early nesting pairs of dotterels and oystercatchers lost their first clutch of eggs and large saltwater lagoons were formed. However the birds were soon back to work, feeding in the lagoons as they dried up and establishing new nesting territories. The Auckland Council fencing contractor Xcluder acted quickly and the fence was repaired within a week and made much stronger than before while OSPT volunteers filled in the washouts and restored the tape lines and signs which mark the nesting areas.

Soon after the storm the first bar-tailed godwits arrived from Alaska after their amazing 9 day non-stop migration. While some of them may have been taking a break on their way to beaches further south, flocks of up to 500 have been counted at Omaha. More unusual visitors to the area are the spectacular royal spoonbills which were seen on the sand islands of the Whangateau Harbour last year but have been seen recently from the Omaha causeway.

Trapping success

Trapping has continued through the winter and the sanctuary north of the fence appears to be free of predators. So far this spring only 4 rats have been caught outside the fence. It is still possible for animals to enter the sanctuary along the beach on the estuary side so residents with are requested to please keep their pets inside at night. Cats can roam over 3km and are known to prey on dotterels when they are protecting their eggs and chicks.

We recommend that residents and visitors take some time to visit the Sanctuary, read the informative signs and walk slowly along the beach keeping outside the nesting areas marked by the red tape. If you are lucky you may enjoy the sight of dotterels and oystercatchers with their chicks feeding along the water's edge.

Happy holidays and seasons greetings from OSPT :)

For more information and details of how you can help visit www.omahashorebirds.co.nz

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