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How three eggs and one broody dotterel halted work on a building site for a month

When a broody dotterel moved in, Watercare contractors were forced to move out until her eggs hatched.

Watercare/Supplied

When a broody dotterel moved in, Watercare contractors were forced to move out until her eggs hatched.

A broody dotterel has ruled the roost at a Watercare construction site after she laid eggs, forcing contractors to work on a different part of the project for a month.

Watercare is building a 5km pipeline from Lucy Moore Memorial Park in Warkworth, north Auckland, to link up with the new Snells Beach wastewater treatment plant, as part of a $300m-plus investment program.

The new facility will replace the Warkworth plant, future-proofing for population growth in the Warkworth, Snells Beach and Algies Bay areas for the next 35 years.

However, in early December contractors flew the nest after a brooding dotterel took up residence and laid three spotted eggs in the construction zone.

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The “courageous” bird appeared nonchalant about the “massive heavy machinery” working around the nest, McConnell Dowell stakeholder manager and environmental advisor Celeste Rauner​ said.

Contractors were quick to give the dotterel some privacy by putting a protective fence around the nest and eggs, which take around 28 days to hatch.

“All operators were alerted to avoid the area until the eggs hatched and the dotterel family moved on,” Rauner said.

McConnell Dowell staff moved to a different part of the project until the dotterel family moved on.

Watercare/Supplied

McConnell Dowell staff moved to a different part of the project until the dotterel family moved on.

Dotterels are known for nesting on open areas of sand or gravel, where there is little protection from high tides, bad weather, feet, dogs and cars.

Their habitats tend to be at risk of development and erosion.

As a result, dotterels have been seen living in urban areas away from beaches, such as opposite a busy mall in Albany and Wynyard Quarter in the city.

According to the Department of Conservation there are only about 2500 birds left – less than some species of kiwi.

IAIN MCGREGOR/Stuff

Human activities are destroying the natural world, leading to the annihilation of animal and plant species at a terrifying rate. Stuff’s This Is How It Ends is a documentary series investigating the critical decline of native species.

Watercare project manager Dirk DuPlessis​ said the team was able to avoid the dotterel family by working on another area of ​​the pipeline, which is due to be completed in 2024.

Earlier in January, it was discovered the dotterel family had shifted out, meaning work in that area of ​​the project could resume.

“We always do everything we can to protect the local flora and fauna in our infrastructure projects,” DuPlessis said.

Watercare had also captured and relocated native skinks to keep them safe during an upgrade to the Army Bay wastewater treatment plant.

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