Saturday, February 17, 2018

Waharau Regional Park

With feelings of deja-vu I joined the Bot Soc walk after a fleeting visit to the Miranda shorebird centre. Then with Bot Soc friends we climbed to the ridge track way above the Firth of Thames.

 I remember walking here in 2012, although not as high with a friend after meeting at the  Miranda centre and then enjoying the plants on a rather wet day. She was intrigued by the patterns of Tangle fern that I had recorded in a photograph in my bush book. Later we had enjoyed the strong North Easterly lashing the coast.

Today was dry, the rain had passed earlier on but the very high  humidity was draining as we trudged to the top. However the stunning views, good company and beautiful bush made it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentines Day

I like the valentine day quote by Micky Rooney who said - "Always get married early in the morning, in case it doesn't work out and then you haven't wasted the whole day".

It  seemed like a good idea at the time. Should we move the sound anchor?   It had been washed away from its upright position with the storm and we had rescued it and moved it to higher ground to come back another day with a spade to re erect it nearby. Today was that day. However it seemed to make sense to move it to the new shell bank nesting site about half a kilometre south.

It's  very heavy being constructed  on a half round log pole complete with solar panel speaker electronics and heavy battery. Fortunately the kayak wheels saved the day as we trussed one end to the wheels and it rather resembled something that you might struggle with to appear with at an Easter ceremony. But it worked and in the high humidity and 27 degrees heat was a much easier option than carrying it on sun burnt shoulders.

Easter parade
That's a long haul along the beach
New location for sound anchor
A new SD card is installed in the camera
The high tide roost site was inundated with red knots, bar-tailed godwit, SIPOS, VOC's NZ dotterel Banded dotterel and turnstone.
The day ended with a meet up with other friends for a meal in a local town to celebrate a birthday the following day. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Ruapehu MINTs meet-up. 2018

I'm just back and uploading photos from a great time with MINTs friends at our latest annual gathering at Ruapehu. It's our fourth year of exploration of this area.

 It was great to meet Jutta and Rudi from Whanganui who added to the fun and interest especially as Rudi is a 'fly' man. Neil joined us too, tip toeing across streams photographing every inch of our travels.
Fern bird followed us from Day 1 as we negotiated the Mangahuia track which took us rather longer (8.5 hours) rather  than the DOC signage (5hours) but then we hardly moved far for the first hour as we attempted to get photos of the  illusive fern birds that were tantalizingly close but eluded our cameras for a clear shot.

On Day 2 We explored the Mahui falls and Toakakura falls area where Neil spotted a Whio ( blue duck) further downstream so we bush bashed until Neil could find a suitable tree to climb to get a clear photo. On the way back we enjoyed the Lahar Mounds walk too.
The ascent to the amphitheatre on Day 3 offered some stunning views and a chance to navigate the volcanic rocks to search for alpine flowers.

More to follow....................................

Mt Ngauruhoe from Mt Ruapehu

Looking for my Sherpa ! Thanks for this one Neil.

Tomtit along the Mangahuia track

Dragonfly along Mangahuia track
Can you see the camouflaged grasshopper?

Grey Warbler at Tawhai Falls walk

More to follow....................................

Friday, February 2, 2018

3.6 Metre tide at Shoal

It's a 3.6 Metre tide today but fortunately the North Easterly has reduced considerably so the birds will still have some shell banks for roosting.

I count 93 bar-tailed godwit that I watched fly in and land dead on High tide at 9.37 am but they were soon disturbed by two people paddle boarding and so some of the group flew East. I was keen to see where they had gone so walked along the edge of the Estuary only to see a smaller group of 19 fly back in V formation.

I then found the rest of the birds on a small difficult to observe shell bank surrounded by mangroves  along with pied stilt and Variable oystercatcher. The birds seem jittery this morning.
 I'm hanging off a cliff above high tide water with tripod and scope to count the birds and camera as a second check for later in case I have missed anything.

More to follow.....................

Monday, January 29, 2018

Wind Burn on the East Coast

Hot and very windy. Back on the East coast. ...... I'm wind burnt today watching a FT chick being fed by its mother . After dinner by the shelter of the river we head back to the beach to check things out..

Evening light. View from sitting in the sand dunes.

Fairy Tern Adult Female

White Fronted Tern is much larger than FT.
Then enjoyed watching the sun go down and the orange glow on the beach over the sculptured rippled sands from the persistent Easterly sea breeze.

More too follow......................................

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

'Leave nothing but footprints'

'Take nothing but photos'. Kayaking to the island was on the agenda to check traps and storm damage. Conditions were perfect after recent storms that had ripped sand dunes and shore line away eating away the coastline. Sand is no match however stabilised against high winds and strong waves.

Checking the motion detect camera
Sound equipment hopefully will still work
This turned into one of those really memorable days that I will tuck into my collection. The huge numbers of birds. South Island pied oystercatcher, Caspian tern, turnstones, Knots and bar-tailed godwit. As the tide came in the birds were up and flying looking for alternative places to roost after feeding on the shallows. It was an amazing site, the remoteness adding to the wonder of it all.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Funday Morning

I could feel the intense heat of the sun burning my knees as we sat watching a pair of Fairy Tern tend their only chick. They had hidden it near a pingao plant below a small sand dune out of the strengthening North Easterly that was preventing us using the sun umbrella.

The male bird would hunt for fish then return and pass the fish to his mate who would then feed the five day old chick.

I was back with my Monday friend catching up on news and it was great to be back.

Later we shared a meal and a glass or two of wine on the deck of her cottage next to the stream while a swamp harrier patrolled the dunes nearby. Then I spotted the elusive resident banded rail furtively walking along muddy edge of the stream as it was still low tide.

Friday, January 5, 2018

King Tides

Each day the tides have been higher this week and this morning the King Tide completely covered the Shoal Bay Chenier shell bank. Any nests remaining would have been washed away. Yesterday the remaining pied stilt nest had two of its three eggs washed away.

This morning the  godwit circled around looking for somewhere to land to sit out the high tide at 10.47 am but the whole of their usual roosting site was covered. Eventually a lead bird landed in the water and with others was able to stand (wade) in the shallow water. But this area is the territory of the regular Variable oystercatcher pair so it had to reclaim this site by driving away the godwit. I'm not sure where they eventually ended up resting to wait for low tide to be able to feed.

Photos to follow.......

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Beware the Tides of January.

Unfortunately high, 3.6 metre tides are due all week. Today we lost another pied stilt nest this time with four eggs. The tide height was 3.4metres.
 Another nest just 7 metres away survived but with higher tides this week and gale force winds predicted  this could be a problem for the remaining nest of three eggs.

Monday, January 1, 2018


Well what adventures will 2018 bring. I'm already looking forward to catching up with MINT's friends at Ruapehu soon.

In the  meanwhile local projects will be begin another year with some great volunteers and also catching -up with my 'Monday friend' for some more fun on the East & West coasts too.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


Happy Christmas from Shoal Bay.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sandbags for Christmas & New Year

Yesterday was spent back on the East Coast helping build a sand bag wall to deflect high tides that are coming in early January.

A lovely evening watching the sun go down with a shared meal, glass of wine and a lit up Christmas tree to begin the festive season with my Monday friend.

   Photos and more to follow.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Fingers crossed.

High tides are an issue for nesting birds and coastal sites favoured by rare birds are very vulnerable but they will keep trying to be successful. Here we see Fairy Tern mating just a few days after a failed nest due to high tides.

An enjoyable day watching the birds in great company.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Sand wall & Super moon

High tides are coming and nests look vulnerable so two long walls of sandbags are in place to protect the nests from a surge tide.

  More to follow.......................

Monday, November 27, 2017

Summer seems early

With a string of lovely sunny warm days summer seems early and the pohutukawa trees are already in flower along the coastline as if bringing forward  the Christmas season.

 I'm back on the East coast North of Auckland enjoying the wide open beach- scape's and wildlife. Today watching Caspian and Fairy  Tern catch and deliver fish to their chosen mates.

Viewpoints are important for watching birds and birds can pick difficult places for us to observe and record. The fairy tern had chosen a site just beyond a sand dune topped with pingao grass. An adjustment of our lookout  site had been essential.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Waitemata Shorebird Census - Summer

It was damp morning but good to meet up early with Jim this morning to count the birds at three high tide roost sites. Two in  Shoal and one in Ngataringa estuary.

There was a good number of godwits and a scattering of other species including resident NNZ dotterel and Variable oystercatchers.

Photos to follow

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Chop it Down

When a mature pohutukawa tree gets in your way on the  Devonport peninsular this is what you do - you Chop it Down.  It’s the tree in the middle of the attached photo.  To make way for an extension and a swimming pool. How crazy on Cheltenham beach.  It lost it's previous protection with the RMA changes.

Nov 5th The centre pohutukawa is the condemned tree

Nov 16th. The pohutukawa was chopped down yesterday

The planners report stated that the ‘The removal of the pohutukawa will be mitigated by other planting’.
This was reported in the Flagstaff and challenged by the Devonport Heritage people Nov 3rd.  The tree was chopped down on the 15th Nov ( yesterday) .

 A letter in the Flagstaff today by a Robert Weber suggests that the ‘Council needs to have a serious rethink about the values it has and the duty to protect in the interests of all of us’  He states that by law the council has to weigh the benefits of development against the effect on natural resources.


Monday, November 13, 2017


It must be nearly Summer. I'm back at Paradiso and the day is just perfect. The ocean looks magic, the islands mysterious. It's great to catch up with my 'Monday friend' and share news and amusing stories.

 Then its down to the serious business  of watching the birds - Fairy Tern, dotterels, Caspian Tern,  spoonbills and many Variable oystercatchers. There are dotterel and VOC chicks running around everywhere and the FT's have two eggs.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Godwit Roost

With a 3.5 Metre high tide this morning at 10.29 I had to check the roost sites of Ngataringa and Shoal bay. It was a fine day with a Northerly breeze.

Ngataringa was quiet with two white faced heron an NZ dotterel and a few SIPOS

I counted 174 godwit on two close together shell banks in Shoal bay near where we had watched a lone godwit fly in to feed on Saturdays walk.

One of the Shoal Bay shell banks with 127 of the total flock of 174 godwit seen today
Other birds seen in Shoal bay included 13 South Island pied oystercatcher (SIPOS) on another roost site and 4 Variable oystercatcher, two white faced herons and a pair of NZ dotterel with the godwit.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Shoal Bay Walk & Talk

It was great to have a  group of 17 people who joined me for a Forest and Bird North Shore branch walk at Shoal bay on Saturday morning at 10.30 am.. The forecast was rain, getting  heavy around 2pm but it held off for a while as I shared my bird observations. Tides are tricky at this time of the year and I had to stall our walk to allow time for the tide to recede and birds to move off their high tide roosts to start feeding on the mud flats.

Two pairs of Variable oystercatchers were at the western end of the shell bank feeding as well as several Southern black backed gulls and two spur-winged plover.  Romeo and Juliet our regular VOC pair as usual to the East. I have watched them mate build nests and have chicks since the 2012/2013 season. Unfortunately last season was the first time they didn't manage to fledge offspring.

Our regular NZ dotterel in breeding plumage sat at the top of the shell bank ridge, a sure sign of a potential nest this season. That limited how far we could walk without fear of disturbing this 'on territory bird'. Also a sudden squall of rain and mist closed down the visibility for seeing further out across the estuary in a search for feeding birds. Right on cue a lone godwit  appeared in front of us and started feeding on the tidal edge. My trusty scope ensured that those that wanted a closer look could do so.
Someone in our group spotted a large tern diving far out and it was a Caspian tern  a bird often seen here that also nests down the motorway edge.

The rain seemed to start to set in and it was nearing 12 pm so we headed back. An enjoyable walk with a great group of interesting people.

Monday, September 11, 2017

WA - 2017. Fairy Terns, Fairy Wrens, Orchids & Osprey.

It's good to be back in Perth and I am looking forward to meeting up with Bird Life Aus people to visit the Pelican Nature Reserve on the Swan River. Then travelling South beyond the Margaret River to Denmark. I've hit the ground running!

I'm too early for the Fairy Tern nesting season but have been invited by Dr Nic Dunlop to his Fairy Tern workshop and presentation in Mandurah which is an hour South of Perth. I'm keen to check out their decoys which I photographed on previous visits as they appear to be more substantially build than the polystyrene ones we use in NZ.

Timing is spot on for the wild flower season so looking forward to seeing the sites on my list on route to Denmark.

Monday 11th Sept
  Wireless Hill to see the Wildflowers.

Kangaroo Paw

Donkey Orchid

Tuesday 12th Sept
  A visit to Bold Park to visit the Birdlife Aus office and then walk to the top of Reabold Hill then back via the Tuart track. Temperatures in the low 20's are just good for walking
Tuesday Evening
In the evening a  meet-up at Pelican reserve with Murray and Kath from Birdlife Aus. The highlight for me was seeing an Osprey ripping a fish apart as it fed on a wooden post in the Reserve. We counted 23 species of birds on our evening circuit of the Reserve.

WildLife Habitat Protection
I was also interested to see the off-shore line of 7  buoys that are there to protect the shore sand edge of the reserve where birds roost and nest.. These are marked with WildLife Habitat Protection. I'm interested to promote this idea at Shoal Bay to protect the High Tide Roost sites from increasing disturbance from water recreational users especially as the population grows with increased infill housing.

Wildlife habitat protection on the Swan River

Wildlife Habitat Protection

Wednesday 13th Sept
Kings park to search for wild orchids fortunately I met up with some keen orchid hunters. Photographed the Spider orchid, Donkey Orchid, Pink Fairy orchid, and the Cowslip orchid.

Thursday 14th Sept
Headed to Mandurah about an hours drive South of Perth to attend the Fairy Tern workshop on the invitation of Dr Nic Dunlop.

Arrived early afternoon and had an explore of the area finding Fraser Lake and meeting Brian who kindly pointed out an Osprey nest.

30 keen people attended the Fairy Tern work shop and listened to Nic outline local projects to create a Fairy Tern Sanctuary and then we all took part in painting Fairy Tern decoys which was just what I wanted to see.

Presentation and workshop for the Fairy Tern Sanctuary

Friday  15th Sept
Headed South West to Dunsborough via Jarrahdale and Harvey.

Saturday  16th Sept
Orchid and Splendid Fairy wren photography in the Cape Leeuwin National park. This is one of my favourite stretches of coastline. The stretch between Meelup beach and Castle rock is always a delight.

Splendid Fairy Wren (female)
Splendid Fairy Wren (male)

Spider Orchid

Sunday 17th Sept
Travelling further South to Denmark via Nannup

Monday 18th
Exploring the Wilson Inlet.

Staying amongst the Giant Karri trees overlooking the Wilson Inlet

Entrance sand bar to the Wilson Inlet.

Tuesday 19th
Albany and the whaling museum in at Discovery Bay in the Torndirrup forest Park. Amazing Geology at the Gap.

Wednesday 20th
The lake House with the white browed babblers in a group of 4 on the ground. Then the Harewood Reserve Walkway.

Thursday 21st
Very wet day exploring Peaceful bay but the light was just right after the recent rain to walk in the forest near Walpole to see the  Giant Tingle trees.

Friday 22nd
Searching the head of the Wilson inlet for Aus Fairy Tern and found three on the sand bar entrance.

Three Fairy tern and a silver gull at the entrance to the Wilson Inlet.

Then spotted a Southern Right Whale with calf. Moved along the coast for a better view overlooking the whales.

Southern Right Whale with Calf

Saturday 23rd
Left our house in Denmark that overlooks the Wilson Inlet set below Giant Karri trees  and headed for Cranbrook to see the Stirling Ranges. Immediately  South of Cranbrook is an excellent wild flower reserve - The Cranbrook Federation Wildflower Reserve. Many white spider orchids here.

The Stirling Ranges

Staying at Kojonup in a converted Clover/Linseed oil shed. Clover House was very comfortable indeed and I felt very relaxed here .
Kerrie the owner proudly showed us her art creations and art gallery, Outside her sculptures created from recycled materials were dotted around her riverbed garden. A very talented lady.

Amazing wild flowers including wild orchids at the Myrtle Benn Reserve. This area is a biodiversity

Myrtle Benn Reserve habitat

Sunday 24th
Farrar Reserve also near Kojonup is an amazing place too for wildflower diversity. Meeting up with other people who were keen to share their finds of orchids helped as we too shared our finds.

Blue Orchid

Spider Orchids

Dragon Orchid

Zebra orchid


Tuesday 26th Sept
Now back in Perth. Osprey on lamps above a breakwater at Cottesloe.

Two Osprey on Lamps over breakwater

Osprey close up

Tuesday evening meet-up with Charles, Murray, Kath & Jean to walk around the Pelican Reserve for a bird count. Great to see the Little egret, red-necked stints and sandpipers.

Little Egret
Thursday 28th September
Point Walter sandbar on the Swan River. Another favourite place. A large flock of between 100-200 little black cormorant flew over then landed on the water and then began rounding up fish by flying together in a long drawn out line. Quite a sight. A lone Terek sandpiper  feeding and disturbed by a hooded plover. Also red-capped plover and red-necked stints feeding too. A lone Great cormorant flew over too.

Great Cormorant

Hooded plover chasing Terek Sandpiper

Friday 29th Sept 
Fremantle then Point Walter to check out the birds. Tide out today. Just crested Terns and silver gulls but heard then watched two Fairy tern at the far end of the spit flying fast and high.

Sat 30th Sept
Back to Mandurah to see and help with setting up the Fairy Tern sanctuary behind the breakwater. Lots of helpers to help spread a huge pile of shell spoil across the site. Soon to follow will be the fencing and then the placing of the decoys.

Formidable pile of shell to be spread around the site

Many hands make light work. Yes that's me in there too.

The pile of shell has been spread across the whole site.

Tuesday Oct 3rd   -  Joondalup Lake Regional Reserve
Unusual duck for me the musk duck strange lobe under its bill.

Tues Evening - Pelican Reserve 23 species recorded including a fan tailed cuckoo and blue shoveller. The red-capped plover have two juveniles now.

Then to the Italian Restaurant meeting with other Pelican Point supporters. Great pizzas, a very enjoyable evening. Many thanks pp people for the invite.

Thursday Oct 6th  - Rottnest Island
The Island is a honeypot for tourists but it is possible to find quiet stretches of the coast and inland Lakes and enjoy the unique wildlife including the Quokkas.

Headed straight for the Osprey stack nest that I visited in 2016. There are said to be 10 stack nests on the Island. This year  there are again a pair of Osprey this time with young but I couldn't get a photo of the chicks. However I did enjoy watching and getting these shots of the Osprey returning with a very large fish.

Osprey returns with large fish catch

Osprey returns to stack nest with fish for chicks and mate.

The Salt lakes are an amazing habitat and this is an area I always head to on the Island Its a peaceful spot the causeway between the two lakes with so many birds to see.

Ruddy Turnstone

Red-necked stint
Saturday 7th Oct -  John Forrest National park
Full of wild flowers and orchids too on the scarp of the Darling Ranges.

Distant view of Perth from the Darling Range.

Fringe Lily

Lemon scented Darwinia

York Township -A delightful historic Town set in the Avon Valley.

Clifton Park Reserve and Leschenaultia Lake

Sunday 8th Oct  - Forrestdale Lake.
Large Lake of Ramsar significance. Rather too much water in the Lake at the present time but as it dries out it becomes and importance feeding site for thousands of wading birds. Extremely important site for Aboriginal people. It was settled in the past due to an abundance of food including the long-necked turtle which are said to be still present.

Piney lakes

Monday 9th Oct  Point Walter

Fairy Terns diving for fish. Terek sandpiper and many other birds.

Tuesday 10th Oct
Pelican Point Nature reserve with Murray, Charles, Kath, Jean and David. A cool strong breeze but a good show of 26 species.

Wednesday 11th Oct
Swan river dolphins.