Caution: Friends of Tucker Beach Wildlife Management Reserve chair Rosemary Barnett

A Queenstowner is asking the public not to disturb a breeding ground for rare native birds at Tucker Beach.

Last summer, Queenstown’s council closed the access road to the wildlife management reserve, by the Shotover River, which encouraged a population of endangered black-billed gulls, banded dotterels and black-fronted terns to thrive.

This breeding season, however, the council’s not closing the gates.

Rosemary Barnett, chair of the Friends of Tucker Beach Wildlife Management Reserve, says that’s disappointing.

She’s hoping, however, that vehicle users don’t go any further than the carpark at the bottom of the road, and is asking motorcyclists to keep away from the river gravels where birds are nesting.

She’s also urging people with dogs to keep them on leads, and only on trails, and asking neighbours with cats not to let them roam.

Immigrant: This flagged dotterel has winged in from Australia

This season, already, eight to 10 nests have been spotted, a banded dotterel chick’s been sighted and a flagged dotterel has winged in from Victoria, Australia.

Barnett says she’s delighted a trapping programme for stoats, possums and rats has begun – a stoat was trapped last Saturday within 100 metres of four nests.

Predator-free: A stoat caught last Saturday

Meanwhile, this Saturday her group – comprising 30 members – is planting 200 native plants, supplied by the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust.

In years to come, hundreds more will be planted, Barnett says.

“One benefit is they will provide insects for the birds to feed on, not to mention that part of the Queenstown Trail now passes through the reserve, and we want that area to be more attractive for people to use.”

Anyone who’d like to help this Saturday is asked to meet at the carpark at 10am.

Barnett says she’s very grateful to the reforestation trust’s Neill Simpson, and also to local ecologist Dawn Palmer for monitoring the bird colonies.

Work to restore the biodiversity of the reserve, including ongoing removal of noxious weeds, benefits the whole community, she adds.

“This is an important green space in which people can walk, cycle, picnic, walk their dogs and bird-watch.

“As Queenstown’s urban development rapidly continues, this wildlife area will become an increasingly unique and important area for nationally-critical and endangered bird species, and for native planting.”