Beachgoers urged to step lightly

People are being warned to stay clear of nesting birds around coastal areas during the summer break.

The Department of Conservation said many birds that are rare and endangered are raising their chicks now – right when an influx of people will hit the country’s beaches.

“Right now, there are thousands of birds nesting on our beaches,” spokesperson Connie Norgate said.

“From the critically endangered black-billed gull or tarāpuka and New Zealand dotterel or tūturiwhatu, to the more common, but equally precious, white-fronted turn or tara.”

The birds used camouflage as a defence mechanism, making it tricky to spot chicks and nests, she said.

People needed to be extra cautious of their surroundings, especially if they have a dog.

“Please avoid nesting sites where possible because animals are not aware of boundaries. If you’re out with your dog and see a nest, please leash them until you’re safely past that area,” Ms Norgate said.

“Also keep your eyes peeled when using off-road vehicles.”

Staying below the high tide mark, keeping noise to a minimum and sticking to marked tracks would help keep the birds safe.