A Dotterel Fortress!
This story comes from Conservation Hero Judah (aged 6)…
My brother Malachi (aged 9) and I had just come in from surfing at Pauanui and our dad was out surfing in the big waves. The big waves were coming onto the beach and some went right up to where a dotterel was nesting.
She was sitting on 3 eggs, and the dad was running around chasing away seagulls or collecting food.
We saw the nest was almost getting covered in water, flooded by the incoming tide and the big swell waves that were covering the beach.
So we started to dig a barrier along the front with our hands to protect her and her eggs. It was pretty hard, the sand was heavy with water and got in our hands, and the new waves kept eating the wall away. We decided to dig a moat and channel to move the water away as well.
We asked our dad to get some spades to make it easier, and a few other people started to join us to help out.
As we built along the front, waves and water started coming in from both sides. It was destroying all the dry white sand, turning everything wet. The dotterel was sitting on her nest, trying to keep her eggs safe from flooding away. She had the very last piece of white dry sand, a little mountain surrounded by water.
She didn’t mind us being there because she knew that we were helping. Even the dad dotterel came over to look at us work.
We started building the fortress wall all the way around the fenced area. Sometimes there would be no waves. Sometimes there would be big waves. We kept on digging all the time.
Once we got around to making the back wall, we got a big surprise with some other kids coming up carrying a big log they had floated down on the river… We put it as a big barrier at the front and covered it in sand. This really helped strengthening the fortress. They started getting more logs and seaweed to reinforce the walls.
As it was starting to get dark, and the tide reached full, we got ready to leave. We watched one last big wave come in. It wrapped all the way around the fortress but no water got inside. The fortress looked like a castle surrounded by a moat. We left the dotterel with a fortress that would hold back the water. We prayed it would survive the night and the next high tide.
The next day was my birthday, and the wall was still there, right around it. We did a bit of reinforcing where a corner had broken. I was so happy the dotterel and her eggs had survived. What a great birthday present!
Over the next week we kept on checking the dotterel and her eggs. She was safe and happy.
In the New Year, after we had gone home from holiday, we got a call from my grandparents, Nonni and DonDon…
They reported that the eggs had hatched and there were now three healthy dotterel chicks! I’m so happy we saved them. I think we might be their godparents!