The areas within our BMP’s are populated by a wide range of species, both native and invasive. One of the main aims of our work is to provide a safe, natural environment in which native species can flourish, and to minimise the impact of pest animals through eradication programmes.
The native flora of Maketu provides high-value breeding habitat for native birds, specifically the Northern New Zealand dotterel (Charidrius obscurus), variable oystercatcher (Haemantopus unicolor), red-billed gull (Larus scopulinus) and white-fronted tern (Sterna striata). Breeding success of birds such as the New Zealand dotterel has improved recently, which, combined with the presence of the rare black-billed gulls nesting on the spit, is a sign that pest control by MOWS volunteers is having a positive effect.
A wide variety of native and migrant birds also use the spit and associated mudflats for feeding and roosting, especially during the winter, including: bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica), royal spoonbills (Platalea regia), wrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis) and the extremely rare and threatened fairy tern (Sterna nereis).
The breeding season for the majority of the shorebirds around Maketu is between August and March. Over this period we put fences around the nesting areas to help avoid disturbance. It is important to keep disruption to a minimum and to keep an eye out for nests while walking. Nests can be extremely inconspicuous, and chicks are often well camouflaged, so be aware of where you are putting your feet!
Shore skinks (Oligosoma smithii) occur in all of our BMP’s, particularly along Maketu Spit. MOWS conduct regular surveys to estimate the population size and distribution. Animals are collected in pitfall traps and details such as location, length, weight and health condition are taken as part of an ongoing project. All animals are released immediately after measurements are taken.
The dune systems have a high incidence of native invertebrates. Well over 150 species have been recorded, including five new or un-described species, notably a new spider and a new beetle. MOWS conduct surveys on a regular basis, using pitfall traps to collect specimens.
New Zealand is home to a wealth of marine life, and a wide variety of species are found in the waters around Maketu. There is a large population of New Zealand Fur Seals (Kekeño) as well as sharks, dolphins, whales, stingrays and jellyfish. Unfortunately, marine mammals are sometimes found stranded on the local beaches. If you find one, either alive or dead, please call DOC on 0800 362 468 or Project Jonah on 0800 494 253.
References: Esler, A. E. (1970). Manawatu sand dune vegetation. Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society, 17: 41-46.
BirdLife International (2012). Charadrius obscurus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. . Downloaded on 03 August 2012.
Jamieson, S. L. (2010). Sand dune restoration in New Zealand: Methods, Motives, and Monitoring. Unpublished MSc Thesis. Victoria Universityof Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand. 158p.