Reintroducing Fairy tern to farewell spit

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
fras444
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:06 pm

Reintroducing Fairy tern to farewell spit

Postby fras444 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:37 am

Just a thought after seeing farewell spit on google maps and reading about the place being all but protected from the public.
Could you reintroduce the Fairy terns to this place..? Looks like lots of sand for them to nest on also, one of the islands in the Hauraki, Motutapu or Great Barrier are some with extensive sandy beaches?
Is there any major differences between the breeding program DOC has for the shore plover vs terns??? Regarding breeding in an enclosure and relocation as a species...
Suzi
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Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:47 am
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Re: Reintroducing Fairy tern to farewell spit

Postby Suzi » Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:49 am

Not really feasible because ...

1. NZ Fairy Tern are a very fragile population - only 40ish individuals and a much smaller number of breeding pairs that even in a habitat they have persisted in for years (such as South Kaipara Head lagoon to Tapora, and Te Arai-Mangawhai Beach), often don't successfully raise young, due to a variety of reasons from high spring tidal flooding of nest sites to predation, disturbance etc

2. NZ Fairy Tern are very very very (!) selective in terms of nest sites. They prefer a specific substrate, and mimicking that could be difficult.

3. Not sure that Farewell Spit is an area that NZ Fairy Tern have ever inhabited, in that I believe they are a now genetically distinct population that originated from vagrants of the Australian Fairy Tern in the Northland region only. (North Auckland for South Kaipara Head ie just over the notional sea border of the two regions). ... so it's not a reintroduction.

Suzi
andrewcrossland
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Location: Christchurch

Re: Reintroducing Fairy tern to farewell spit

Postby andrewcrossland » Wed Jun 17, 2020 8:24 pm

I can't recall if Fairy terns were historically recorded from Farewell Spit, but its certainly not correct to say they were a species focused on Northland because their presence as a breeding resident (including museum specimens, eggs, published records and I think even photos) on Canterbury braided rivers in the 19th and early 20th Century is well established.
fras444
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:06 pm

Re: Reintroducing Fairy tern to farewell spit

Postby fras444 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 3:08 pm

Thanks heaps for the reply. Had no idea on just how picky these birds are, I guess I thought of farewell spit as it was a sandy habitat and a habitat that is basically an exclusion zone/protected bird habitat from human disturbance. An ideal place for such an rare species.
The numbers thing is a very delicate one... Haven't DOC done some work on the Haast/Okarito? kiwi that was a very limited population and the Orange-fronted Kakariki? Shore birds must be more of a delicate one to handle in a captive environment, I'm guessing a captive breeding program would be out of the question... How did it work for the shore plovers regarding captivity and being a highly mobile bird?? Could a couple of Fairy tern eggs be incubated and put in an aviary (like the Black stilts and Shore plovers) breed from them and then release them on a more secluded habitat like Great Barrier sand dunes, Exhibition bay or Farewell spit??

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