11 easy tips to help beach-nesting birds successfully fledge their young at Snells Beach.
Join Snells Shoreline Conservation Community backyard trapping programme.
Walk below the high tide line when on the beach, to avoid accidentally stepping on an egg. If you notice birds acting injured, or seemingly trying to lead you away, you may be near a nest or chicks. Beach-nesting birds sometimes nest outside of sign posted areas. Please leave quietly, let us know where you saw this, and enjoy observing from a distance.
Respect sign-posted areas, even if you don't see birds inside them. Birds, eggs and nests are well-camouflaged among beach habitat, and disturbance by people can cause the abandonment of a nest.
Give nesting birds a wide berth, do not walk right up to the cordons. And please, if you want to have a picnic, store your kite-surfing gear or hang your towel somewhere, please find a spot further along the beach. Nesting birds are spooked by the strangest things.
When fishing, be sure to take all your tackle home with you. There are plenty of bins along Snells Beach where you can dispose of fishing line and unwanted gear, but probably not stinky stuff if you want to keep the locals happy.
Avoid disturbing groups of birds. If birds take flight, or start chirping and squawking they're probably getting agitated. Move away and give them some space.
Get into the habit of checking before you walk your dog. Auckland Council has an easy to use webpage, Find where and when you can walk your dog. Shorebirds are nervous and their behaviour changes when any threats are nearby. "New Zealand dotterels flushed from their nests earlier and stayed off them for longer when approached by a person leading a dog, compared to when the person was walking or running." Effects of human approaches to nests of northern New Zealand dotterels Biological Conservation 98 (2001).
Take your dog to free-running parks. Play chase with a ball, stick or rope; not the protected wildlife. Many shorebirds at Snells Beach and other places in New Zealand are endangered and some are critically endangered. They need protection from dogs playing chase.
Keep cats indoors, or contained in something like a catio (cat patio), especially during the nesting season. This will be a win-win for your pet and threatened wildlife. New Zealand's SPCA has some great advice about keeping your cat safe and happy at home.
Plan where you drive your vehicle to avoid crushing nests, eggs and fledglings. Shorebirds are masters of camouflage and it is difficult to spot nests and birds, which makes them easy to accidentally run over.
Take trash, picnic leftovers, charcoal or fish scraps home or put them in bins. When left on the beach or even buried, food and fish waste attracts predators to areas where there are chicks, eggs and nesting adult birds.