An important reminder to all those using the northern end of our beach, especially dog owners!
Our friends at the Omaha Shorebird Protection Trust highlight our shared responsibility to protect the oystercatchers that often roost in this area, specifically the beach north of Walkway 2 (between Rita Way and Ida Way) and south of the sanctuary and the southernmost groyne.
Marie Ward, OSPT Trustee and Chair, further explains: “The pied oystercatchers are black and white shorebirds that breed on riverbeds and farmland mainly in the South Island of NZ (and are therefore often referred to as “SIPO”) and are similar to the variable oystercatchers with their striking bright orange bills and short pink legs (“VOCs”).
At the end of summer, the SIPO migrate North to spend autumn and winter in the estuaries around Auckland and elsewhere. We have a very large group that come year after year to winter over in the Whangateau Harbour. At high tide, the SIPOs flock together at the North end of Omaha beach, along with a group of young non-breeding VOCs that have yet to establish a breeding territory. Unfortunately, they are often disturbed by beach users, joggers, and people walking their dogs. This lifts the birds up and they swirl around until they can find another roosting spot. In a perfect world, they would roost inside the Omaha Spit bird sanctuary, along with the godwits, dotterels, pied stilts and others. But space for an additional 100 or more SIPO inside the sanctuary is tight, and the other shorebirds very often do not let the SIPO settle. They are then forced to find somewhere else to roost, such as on the golf club grounds if they are not busy, or on the playing fields at Whangateau.
It would be wonderful if locals could look out for the roosting SIPO and VOCs when they are settled at the North end of Omaha beach, alongside the groyne. Please ask people not to jog through any roosting birds, ever. They are sleeping when its high tide. Please remind people not to walk their dogs in this area, it is a “No Dog Access” at all times. Please look after our shorebirds, they are our Omaha taonga.”
In particular, please note that dogs are specifically banned from the beach north of Walkway 2 (between Rita Way and Ida Way).