28 Jan 2015

Tough season for rare fairy tern

7:40 am on 28 January 2015

It has been a tough summer for New Zealand's most endangered bird - the fairy tern.

The fairy tern is New Zealand's most endangered bird.

The fairy tern is New Zealand's most endangered bird. Photo: DOC

The species has taken a hit from bad weather during its breeding season at the end of last year.

The population is down to 39 and this year they have managed to rear just four chicks on Northland's east coast beaches, from Waipu to Pakiri.

Fairy Tern Trust convenor Heather Rogan said a record number of 12 chicks were raised the previous year but wild weather before Christmas wrecked any hopes of a repeat.

"The first big storm was a wind storm and that blew a lot of the eggs away. So, at least six eggs were lost," she said.

"And then, the ones that did survive - some of the chicks died or disappeared anyway in the next storm, which came in December."

Ms Rogan said the Department of Conservation (DOC) and volunteers did a sterling job of protecting the fairy terns from predators - but they could not save them from bad weather.

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