Photograph taken by Lianne Dalziel, Otama beach 2021
Over the December 2020/Jan 2021 breeding season, a banded NZ dotterel was sighted on Otama Beach, which is very exciting! Her name is RY-YW (Red/Yellow-Yellow/White) and she is 26 years old, which makes her a’ senior citizen in the New Zealand dotterel world’. This bird, a female, was originally banded as a chick in November 1994 at Opoutere, Coromandel Peninsula. As most juvenile NZD dotterel, she spent the next few years wandering the coastline, being seen at Whangamata and Pauanui. She was then seen at Matarangi Spit in Feb 2000 and in 2001, the first record of her at Otama was in November 2002. She was re-banded in Jan 2011, at that time she was breeding here in Otama in the dunes just west of the lagoon mouth.
After breeding each year, RY-YW joins the large post-breeding flock at Matarangi Spit for several months, usually from about mid/late Jan to May. That flock is one of the three largest globally and now typically has about 150 birds. So RY-YW is now a little over 26 years old, which is a very good age for a fairly small bird, very few make it past 25.