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Volunteers Wanted for Rotoiti Bird Survey

10 January 2023

Volunteers Wanted for Rotoiti Bird Survey

Help Protect Rotoiti’s Threatened Dabchicks

We are looking for Volunteers for the 5 yearly bird survey of Rotorua Lakes at Auckland Anniversary weekend. What’s needed is 4 boats/drivers to cruise the edges of Rotoiti and record counts of all species, map where dabchick are encountered and record shag roosts. Ideally the counts should be completed in a morning.

For Lake Rotoiti I help Graeme Young coordinate all this so that each boat will have a skilled observer who can do the actual bird identification & counts as well as recorders if necessary, along with maps, recording sheets etc. It is up to you what day you chose over the long weekend to carry out the counts, but it is best to do counts when the weather is reasonably calm.

If you can help out with a boat/driver, possibly someone who can record, even a bird expert please email me, (, your details.

You might not be aware, but a Dabchick count happens annually on all lakes in the Rotorua area. Lake Rotoiti is the most important of these lakes as we have the largest population of these native water birds. Once you take time to stop and watch their uniqueness and character it is very distinctive. The Dabchick is smaller to other water birds, with a dark crown, brown body and a narrow red neck and front of breast. It’s fluffy bum feathers with often a patch of white is a sure giveaway, along with the fact that if you get too close it will dive down under water. Most other water birds will take flight,

The last full lake count in 2021 had Lake Rotoiti being home to 332 Dabchicks. It is estimated that fewer than 2000 individuals remain throughout N.Z, giving them a “near threatened” status. This year’s count done by volunteers early on the 7th of April before the south easterly wind kicked in confirmed our population to be static. The total count for 2022 was an estimate of 322 birds (a few areas were not countered due to a shortage of volunteers).

If you can’t volunteer there are other things you can do to help:

* Keep rubbish and pollutants out of water ways

* Maintain a low boat/jet ski speed near shore

* Trap pests on your property

* Plant and maintain aquatic vegetation around the edge of the lake

In the words of David Attenborough “ The truth is: the natural world is the most precious thing we have, and we need to defend it.” The Dabchick is just one small example of this that we can save, and it is right here on our lake.