Rare birds leave Plimmerton for Mana

TAKE FLIGHT: A flock of shore plovers has made its way back to Mana Island after a brief stint in Plimmerton.
TAKE FLIGHT: A flock of shore plovers has made its way back to Mana Island after a brief stint in Plimmerton.

Rare birds who made Plimmerton their temporary home have returned to the safer habitat of Mana Island.

Conservation Department staff are relieved by the move, as they had been planning to return the shore plovers home for their own safety.

The flock of about 50 birds, about 20 per cent of the world population, set up camp on the Plimmerton Coast earlier this month.

They had flown out of the DOC breeding programme on Mana Island and settled near the Plimmerton fire station, north of Wellington.

Community relations programme manager for the Kapiti Wellington area office Kerry Swadling said DOC staff had been waiting for the right conditions to capture the birds and return them to Mana Island.

Dogs and cats were a risk to the birds while they were on the mainland and DOC had urged Plimmerton residents to keep a close watch on their pets.

Ms Swadling said the birds had been absent from the mainland over the last few days and appeared to have flown home of their own accord.

The species is listed by DOC as nationally critical and there are fewer than 250 mature birds in existence.

Shore plovers were once widespread on South Island coasts but their numbers were hit by the introduction of predators.

The only natural breeding population is now on Rangatira Island in the Chatham Islands.

The Dominion Post