Colonies of endangered birds hit by last week’s storm

Several endangered bird colonies have been destroyed by the king tide after Friday’s storm.

The Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre, near Kaiaua, has been closed while the East Coast Road remains shut.

The centre’s manager, Keith Woodley, said a colony of black-billed gulls and white-fronted terns – both of which are endangered – had been nesting on the shorebed when the storm hit.

However the colony of black-billed gulls were a small colony compared to the rest of the population.

“They’ve nested here most years, this year they started nesting some time ago so when the storm hit on Friday they already had a lot of offspring who were pretty well advanced so a lot of these young birds have survived,” Mr Woodley said.

The white-fronted terns had started nesting later than the gulls and it’s likely all their nests have been lost.

“It’s a sad business for the terns and the gulls, but these birds nest in exposed areas and from time to time they will be subject to tides and big storms.

“They do lose nests from time to time, we had that in the past but it’s sad watching all that effort going to naught,” Mr Woodley said.

Although not much can be done in situations like this, he added that even though the colonies of hundreds of birds were wiped out, it is possible the white-fronted terns could try to nest again.