Banded dotterel - Charadrius bicinctus
Dotterels dart around on beaches and mudflats. The banded dotterel is easily identified by its breeding colours being a narrow dark band on its neck and a wide chestnut band on the breast. Its back and wings are fawn. The Maori name for dotterel is tuturiwhatu. The banded dotterl is the most numerous dotterel in New Zealand and is both endemic (only found here) to New Zealand and a protected species.
The banded dotterel breeds in a variety of habitats including on coasts, farms, and on the shores of lakes and riverbeds. They are most common in inland Canterbury and the Mackenzie Basin. The male makes several nests for the female to choose from and these are scrapes on sand or soil. Both the male and female incubate two to four eggs. After breeding most of the inland breeding birds, slightly over half of the total population of 50,000, migrate to Australia for winter.
They live up to 10 years. Growth is to 20cm and 60 grams. They fly at six weeks of age, breed at two years of age and live to 30 years.
During the winter these birds head down to tidal areas or across to Southland estuaries. The banded dotterel feeds on molluscs, sandhoppers, other invertebrates, fish and crabs. Inland they take insects, grubs, earthworms and spiders. The southern subspecies weighs 160 grams.
Banded dotterel images © Steven Reekie