July 30

Aotearoa Southern Dotterel


Southern Dotterel

Chadrius obscurus

What do you think is the rarest bird in New Zealand?  Perhaps, you immediately think of the Kakapo? But the title probably belongs to a seabird, or a little-known shorebird, the Southern Dotterel (or the Southern Red-breasted Plover), which has been described as a distinct species and listed as such on the IUCN Red List.

It is listed as Critically Endangered and the population trend is indicated as Decreasing.

Last assessed in 2017, the IUCN estimates that the population is between 60 and 80 individuals, which is limited to one population, which occurs (fortunately) within the boundaries of the Rakiura National Park, on Rakiura (or Stewart Island), off the southern tip of the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Alasdair Burns spoke with Grant, from Stewart Island (Rakiura) about the Southern Dotterel, and recounted his work previously with the species, and explained why the specialisation of the species, and it's limited range makes it extremely vulnearable, especially to feral predators, such as cats, rats, mice and possums.

Alasdair and colleague examining a Southern Dotterel

See the grim IUCN Red List assessment for yourself here.

Check out Predator Free Rakiura on the web here;

And they are also on Facebook;

There is a lot of Southern Dotterel info from the New Zealand Department Of Conservation website;

Vote for Southern Dotterel for New Zealand Bird of the Year on Instagram (Voting begins in October - so set yourself a reminder!);

Typical feeding location for the Southern Dotterel


Aotearoa, Citizen Science, Critically endangered, Dotterel, fieldwork, New Zealand, New Zealand Dotterel, plovers, shorebirds, Southern Dotterel, waders

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