Piritahi spot poaka nest in Northcote

In a first for Piritahi, while laying the groundwork for the Northcote Development our construction team discovered a pair of pied stilts, or poaka, nesting on site. With distinctive, long pink legs and a fine black bill, poaka are a native wading bird and are fully protected throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

It’s surprisingly common for shorebirds to seek out construction sites to nest, especially during the colder months when sites can be less active due to wet weather. Dotterels, another protected bird native to NZ, are well-known to choose them for breeding, so much so that deterrents such as silt fences are often set up for the purpose of preventing them from nesting in the potentially hazardous environments.

Our ecologist, Rieke Behrens, explained that upon discovering the pair of protected poaka, the site team took initiative by fencing off the surrounding area to keep their nest safe. Project Manager, Dan Phillips, ensured the wider crew was aware of the discovery before reporting it to the ecology team. Rieke and Senior Marine Ecologist, Susan Jackson, then visited to check the nest in which they found three eggs!

Spot the eggs!

Poaka incubate their eggs for approximately 25 days. Once hatched, the chicks need only a couple of days before they are mobile and can follow their parents around. Due to this gestation period, along with the fact that relocating a nest would require a wildlife permit from the Department of Conservation and potentially involves moving it up to just one metre per day…our construction team were preparing to rethink their work programme. However upon inspection, our little winged friends appeared to have been incubating for over a week already, so the team were able to work elsewhere until the chicks had ‘left the nest’.

Piritahi is working within Kāinga Ora’s large-scale urban development areas where state-owned land is being better utilised for new warm, dry, healthy homes. With multiple active construction sites across Auckland, discoveries of wildlife (or signs of it) on site are a very real possibility. So, we make sure our people know what to look out for, what to do and who to contact when it happens. This includes:

-   Leaving the animal or nest where it is

-   If possible, setting up fencing around nests to prevent disturbance

-   Making sure the entire site team is aware of the discovery

-   If the animal is on the move, keeping an eye on it to help prevent it from being injured

-   Calling in ecology! Ecologists specialise in local ecosystems. They often examine areas prior to works starting and      put measures in place to protect any affected ecosystems. In instances of discoveries, they also advise of the      steps to take before starting site works again

The pied stilt feeds in shallow water, probing into the sediment with its beak.

Sustainability is one of Piritahi’s primary focuses, so ecological consideration is of high importance in our work. We're delighted to do our bit, however small or large, to protect our country's native birds,

Projects like the Awataha Greenway in Northcote will help to form a network of parks and public spaces that provide a healthy environment for people and plants - but have also been carefully designed with specialist input to act as attractive habitats for local birds and other animals.

For more information on the Awataha Greenway, visit https://northcotedevelopment.co.nz/greenway/