Omaha Beach visitors told to keep out of bird sanctuary

Omaha Beach.
Omaha Beach. Photo credit: Google Maps

People heading to a popular beach north of Auckland over summer are being told to keep out of a predator-proof bird sanctuary, to protect the endangered species that call it home.

Birds New Zealand is frustrated some beachgoers are setting themselves up for the day in the fenced off zone at the end of the Omaha Beach spit - rather than using the 2.5 kilometres of main beach.

The sanctuary is home to shorebirds like New Zealand dotterels, banded dotterels, godwits and variable oystercatchers.

Birds New Zealand's Auckland region representative Ian McLean said people have been taking their barbecues and gazebos in, playing games of cricket and sunbathing near nests.

Some people have also been taking their dogs into the sanctuary.

"The problem with that is it actually limits the opportunity for the young birds to feed," McLean said.

"The chicks of the New Zealand dotterels, they don't get to go to the water's edge to feed and likewise with the variable oystercatchers - it's actually rather worse for [them] because they're actually fed by their parents, so their parents need to be able to access the water and access the shoreline."

McLean said that could have dire consequences for the survival of the chicks - some of them are dying of starvation.

"It's simply the fact of too much disturbance."

McLean is urging beachgoers to stay away from the sanctuary and enjoy their time on the main part of the beach.

RNZ