Goldie is our Pacific Golden Plover, the Kuriri, the fourth most common of the Arctic migrants that visit us each summer, and probably the most beautiful. But Goldie has a problem. The number of Pacific Golden Plovers arriving in New Zealand is falling fast. And unfortunately we don’t know what to do about it because we don’t know where they come from or how they get here.
This season the Shorebird Centre is going to try to find answers. We’re going to try and catch 10 birds this summer and fit them with tiny satellite tags. We’ll follow their journey north through to their breeding grounds and back and learn about all the places they stop along the way. Then, hopefully, we’ll be able to work to stop their decline.
THE PROJECT PLAN
In December 2018 we will have a team of enthusiastic volunteers watching the Kuriri that have come here for summer so we can work out how and where to catch them. In late February 2019 we’ll report on how our team of experts gets on with the tricky business of catching enough birds to fit them with transmitters. And from late March-early April the information we get from the satellite tags on their 15,000km journey to their secret home in the Arctic will be plotted on this map so you can share with us the excitement of discovering where they stopover en route – maybe Japan – and where they nest – will they turn out to be Russians or Americans?
Later, if the satellite tags’ batteries last long enough, we’ll report on the route they take on the return flight to New Zealand. It’s possible they may even fly here direct, 11,000km, which would be a remarkable feat for birds about the same size as a stocky Blackbird.
GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT
The Shorebird Centre is very keen to spread the message about this project. We’re very excited about the prospect of discovering where these birds, which have been visiting us for thousands of years, actually come from. We’re also very enthusiastic about finding out why their numbers have dropped in recent years and working to reverse that trend before it is too late. Almost all of our native shorebirds are threatened and we hope the story of the Kuriri will help persuade people that they are worth helping.
Interactive Google Earth maps | You can watch with us as we follow the Pacific Golden Plovers on their journey up to the arctic to breed and back to us in summer. Download Google Earth and use the interactive maps to see exactly where the Kuriri are.
Website | Here you can learn about our project and we will post updates in the Latest News section below.
Facebook | Follow us for updates, links to media and the latest news.
Documentary | Wildlife filmmaker Johan Kok has volunteered to produce a documentary on the project. See the Documentary section below.
Education | Shorebird Centre Educator Alex Eagles-Tully is using the Pacific Golden Plover story to get schools interested in shorebird education. As part of that project Alex has designed a paper Kuriri that anyone can colour in, cut out, glue together and hang from the ceiling. You can find the instructions for ‘How to make your own paper PGP’ here or you’ll find it in our brand new Shorebird Activity Book. Right now the Centre is decorated not with Christmas lights but lots of brightly coloured Kuriri made by pupils of nearby Kaiaua School. We’d love to hang up any that you make too so send them in.
23rd August 2019 – Anticipation for the Homeward Journey
The transmitters have started to send data more frequently in anticipation of the Pacific Golden Plovers long migration south to New Zealand, which could start at any time now. All three Kuriri are in Alaska and Wee Jimmy is entertaining us with a trip to the Aleutian Island chain. Read more here.
11th July 2019 – Satellites track Kuriri to the Arctic
All three of the Kuriri – or Pacific Golden Plovers – we fitted with satellite tags have been successfully tracked to the Arctic. Read more here about their unique journey’s and what this may mean.
3rd May 2019 – Satellites track 3 Kuriri across the Pacific
All three of the Kuriri – or Pacific Golden Plovers – we fitted with satellite tags have been successfully tracked across the Pacific and are now well on their way to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. Read more here.
22nd March 2019 – Kuriri tracked on 9,000km journey to Japan
The first Pacific Golden Plover we fitted with a transmitter earlier this year in Pukorokoro Miranda, has arrived in the Yellow Sea. Find out where all 3 of the birds are and their progress. Read more here.
15th March 2019 – Catching efforts over for the season
It’s time to let the birds prepare for their migration north so our efforts to catch and fit Kuriri with transmitters is over for the summer. Hear all about the challenges and how it went. Read more here.
18th December 2018 – The Birds are here
The Pacific Golden Plover have started to arrive in the Firth of Thames. Hear about our plans to monitor the birds, learn about the transmitters we plan to fit them with and meet the team. Read more here.
JOHAN KOK AND WILD IMAGES
Johan Kok from Wild Images has very generously offered to help support our project by creating a documentary of the efforts. Below are the links to his videos. Thank you Johan!