Saturday, May 26, 2018

Portage

With predicted high winds and the kayaks loaded up on the car we had the option to avoid the kaipara West coast and head East instead. However we thought the winds were manageable but when we arrived at the coast they were higher than anticipated.



We were committed now and it was a struggle to get to the our normal landing place on the island. Instead we washed up on a deep pooled muddy stretch of mangrove. The tide was going down so we left the kayaks tied up to the mangroves  and carried on with the days tasks of monitoring traps and bait stations.


Later returning we realised that the receding tide had revealed very deep mud and so the only thing was to carry the kayaks around the mangrove and deep mud obstacle to our usual homeward launching place..







 More to follow.............

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Bayswater school Enviro Group - High Tide bird watch.

As a follow up to my talk to Bayswater school Enviro students on the 8th May today's visit was planned to actually see the birds of Ngataringa estuary at High tide. So with two scopes at the ready and a few blocks of wood kindly prepared by Graham to allow students the correct height  to access a good view through the scopes we were set to go at 1pm, using the great viewing deck at Graham and Ngaire's house.


SIPOS & VOCs and pied stilt behind
 
 73 Wrybill and one spur-winged plover
 
Great enthusiasm as the students excitedly looked at the birds while some students kept note in a special bird book they had created to add their bird observations in. This booklet had a super cover designed by the students.

High Tide 1.06pm  3.2Metres.

Birds Recorded
Wrybill  x 73
Pied Stilt x 64                  (described by a student as having ‘flamingo like’ long pink legs)
SIPOS   x  60                   (South Island Pied Oystercatchers)
VOCS    x 15                    (Variable Oystercatcher)
NZ dotterel x  7                (four in early breeding plumage)
SBBG  x 2                        (Southern Black-Backed Gulls)
White- faced heron x1      (hidden at the back)
Caspian Tern x 2         
Kingfisher x 4                  (Spotted by the students on the wooden posts and cabbage tree)
Spur-winged plover x 3    (noted by one students as having a yellow beak and a grey back)
Pukeko  x 1                      (Spotted by one of the students)
Starlings x                        (a few flying around)
Sparrows x                       (a few flying around)


Monday, May 21, 2018

Birthday Treat

Its a childhood thing, visiting the zoo on my birthday. It doesn't happen every year but as a child a visit to London zoo was a big event. Today I spent the morning at the excellent Auckland zoo. Cooler days are better as the animals are more active.
Photos to follow.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Miranda Musings

The Miranda Chenier plains are an enigmatic landscape.  Maybe its simply the mystery and wonder of the thousands of birds that visit here or could it  be at a deeper more personal level that I struggle with to fully fathom out.

Birders heading for the Pied Stilt hide
 
Wrybill adjusting their location on the shell banks


A fine day to be here and enjoy the birds. Great to catch-up with some familiar faces and enjoy their news updates and stories. The Miranda team as usual always helpful and full of knowledge that they are always prepared to share. On arrival at the Wrybill hide Adrian was ready to share a sighting of a lone black-tailed godwit. A rare sight. Adrian then pointed out the features including a very straight bill compared to the usual bar-tailed godwit that we see. updated 22.05.2018

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

Monday, May 14, 2018

Heading North

Winding up the East coast. Just testing to see what additions will allow going 'off grid' for longer periods. Neat walks watching whiteheads flit about in the Regional park.


Sunsets and sunrises to enjoy. Listened to a morepork last evening but no luck with kiwi. Feels just like summer with warm sunshine again at times. Probably wont make Matapouri on this trip.


Heading back. Due for a  Kaipara visit next..........................................

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Enviro Group Talk

It was great fun to meet the Enviro group students of Bayswater school yesterday and share some of my photographs of the birds to be seen in Shoal and Ngataringa estuaries.

My talk was called 'Keeping the Shell Banks Safe for Birds'.



A Big Thank you to Steve for making this happen and to Dianne the class teacher for allowing me into a busy school timetable. And a big thank you to all the students for sharing their really interesting bird stories.

In two weeks time we will visit Graham's house that looks over the High Tide roost site in Ngataringa estuary and we will attempt to count the birds.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Kaipara

Light wind forecast that's so much better than last weekend for kayaking. Perfect for this weekends  project/visit to the island. Traps show two stoats and a weasel. Many mice prints too.
South Island Pied Oystercatcher roost site

Approx 2000 + SIPOS on HT roost ( the thin black line)

 


Mainly banded dotterel and a few NZ dotterel



Crop Detail Showing in this photo(41) banded dotterel and (3) NZ dotterel
 






















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

Thursday, May 3, 2018

OMG ! and an update

Hilarious topic for our MINTS gathering dinner party coming up this evening. Cant wait.

An hilarious evening with a 'tears to the eye' story of a cycling accident and the unfortunate injury which I probably shouldn't go into here except to say that Margi is back in Auckland for a few days. We are making plans for next years Ruapehu MINTS get together. Good to catch up with Margi, Sooz, Leslie, and Neil. Sorry that Helen P couldn't make it.

A busy week with the predator control project, shorebird monitoring and a hike up the coast in beautiful sunshine.
 Just putting the finishing photos to a PowerPoint for a local school talk for next week.

Heading away for the Kaipara project this weekend.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Awhitu Regional Reserve

Great to be back on the Awhitu peninsular with Tricia Aspin our expert guide to the area. This is an annual event and I have enjoyed many such visits to some beautiful parts of this peninsular including many farmland areas that Trish has managed to gain us access to with wonderful wetlands and ponds.

Wetlands are my favourite habitats and I could spend hours here so will return. Its a deceptively long drive up this peninsular but this helps keep this area remote and rather special. 





Bot Soc at Awhitu Regional Park.


This is the first time that we have actually visited the Awhitu Regional Park. Its at a great location overlooking the  Manukau harbour.

 Many thanks to Chevelle for taking the group photo with my camera and leading us to the eels. Thanks to Josh for using her lunch to feed them. Updated 29.04.2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Shoal Bay High Tide Roost Count - April 19th

High Tide 9.48am 3.4Metres. Calm Sunny Warm
Combined Totals  at three Chenier Shell banks at (Big) Shoal Bay

Birds Recorded
Wrybill   x 54
Pied Stilt x 189
SIPOS    x 244
VOCS    x 15
NZ dotterel x 2
SBBG   x 5
White Faced Heron x 4
Banded Dotterel x 5
Caspian Tern  x 2


Confiding


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tawharanui Regional Park

There are a few good hills to climb here to get great views of the surrounding ocean. However first its good to walk around the lagoon and soon we come across white faced herons hunting skinks in the long grass at the sides of pathways. Its great to watch them try to mesmerize their prey by their rhythmic neck movements.



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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Motuora Island Today


Who needs an alarm clock when you are woken at 6am by the morepork calling from the large old oak nearby.  I am torn between trying to see it in the tree at dawn or getting ready for my trip to Motuora today,

 In the end the morepork misses out and I'm soon on my way to Sandspit to meet up with others to catch the 8am water taxi to Motuora. It's good to catch up with familiar faces and some new too.

Today clearing vegetation around the cliff top gannet colony, relocating penguin boxes along the shore and shifting sand bags for a future visit job of repositioning the water tank moved on a previous visit.


The highlight today as well as just being on this delightful island that I have been coming to since August 2012 is a visit to the Pycroft petrel burrows to weigh and measure two chicks born to the Island and that will very shortly head off for three years on the wing before hopefully returning to Motuora to breed.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Old Trees.

I keep banging on about old trees. The first casualty of Auckland development projects are old trees and the biodiversity that goes with them and we are losing them at a very fast rate. The powers that be' think we can just plant new trees as mitigation to replace their loss and everything will be ok. Well it wont for fifty years at least.

 Tonight I have just been rewarded by this understanding as the morepork has settled in the large old oak nearby and is calling. I quickly take the opportunity enjoy this  experience. It took me back to younger years in the UK when I would watch barn owls hunting in a valley near my home.

 I have just written an article for a local paper about the sign off by our local Board to a land/Reserve swap which will result in  the loss of trees in the area that I have been listening to this morepork last week. Although I have always been wary off and against giving animals anthropomorphic characteristics it's as if he/she has come to say thanks. Updated 16.04.2018

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Nowhere would we rather be!

High tide or low tide you have to face mud at some stage  when kayaking in an estuary. You will have to deal with it on your way out or way home.


Today its on our way out. However, this suits us well as we are carrying a collection of heavy water containers of different sizes and opting for a shorter paddle to the island considering the persistent South westerly breeze with a longer haul across the mud to begin with.

 This was later rewarded with a comfortable paddle back with empty drums. Sit -on kayaks that we are using today are far more useful for carrying gear and relatively safe in  sheltered waters.



Red knots getting ready to migrate
 




A good day for mustelid catches
 


Later over dinner and a glass of wine with my 'Monday friend', I know its Saturday but good friendships know no bounds (LOL), we agree that today there is nowhere we would rather be.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Auckland NZ Dotterel Forum -2018

Great to catch up with  dotterel minders and others at the Dotterel Forum held at the Art Gallery at Orewa today. This  included Council and Doc staff, Miranda shorebird Centre people including Keith, Jojo and  Adrian Riegen who today was updating us with the on going research work at Stewart Island to try and find out why the Southern NZ dotterel population is rapidly declining.

Other topics discussed were the on-going saga of dog owners not following bylaw signage to keep dogs out of sensitive wildlife areas or put their dogs on leash. Kerry outlined some interesting signage research to see what approach gets the best compliance results.

FYI
This link is for the video made last year that I was asked to supply photos for to highlight the birds of the Orewa estuary. https://youtu.be/ea1kCfc8UEM

CHANCE
Then quite by chance - I'm a great believer in 'Chance', on leaving the meeting I bumped into Joel and his partner Nicolle from Highpoint who had stopped for lunch at the Orewa Estuary. Their company  specialises in abseiling to remove pest plants and was contracted by Auckland Council to help  lay out our initial bait line and I joined Joel to help with this in Shoal Bay during June 2016.

Informal workshop with Joel, Bill, Amy and myself in 2016

 Joel was interested to hear our progress and that everyone is still with the group that I co-ordinate.. I learnt heaps from Joel and wish them luck with their on-going business.

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

Heading to the Kaipara next. The plan is to ferry full water containers to the Island on the kayaks..

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Shoal Bay High Tide Roost Count April 3rd

HT 9,26 am 3.4 Metres  Warm calm day.

Combined totals for three Chenier Shell banks at (Big) Shoal Bay

Birds Recorded
Wrybill   x 38
Pied Stilt x 250
SIPOS     x 209
VOCs      x  12
NZ dotterel x 5
SBBG       x 5
White faced Heron  x 7
Banded Dotterel x 1

Monday, April 2, 2018

Morepork

I had just arrived home from a meeting and talk about native eels this evening when I again heard the morepork in the direction of the Northboro Reserve. I am keen to pinpoint its location as I have some concerns that a local development that recently received the go-ahead from the Local Board to progress a land swap with the reserve will soon be removing trees in that area. I set off with head torch and was reminded of my badger & fox watching days -out at dusk with a red cellophane covered torch hoping to watch these amazing creatures.


Its a lovely moonlit night hence a high tide shorebird roost count tomorrow morning. With  star sprinkled clear skies and the moon like a searchlight above I soon reach the boardwalk and edge of the Northboro estuary inlet and the owl calls again right from in the middle of the development area.

I returned home to spend a further couple of hours listening to it before falling asleep for the night.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Checking My Pulse

It's the start of our April bait pulse around Shoal and Ngataringa estuaries to knock down predators to help the wildlife around the Coastal forest edge of the estuary.  This morning we topped up the bait stations at Line 2 ( we have 12) and will re-visit to record bait take up and top up with more bait during the month.

Thinking of my pulse I was reminded of the repercussions following another enjoyable  two month travel in Western Australia during 2017. This time I had been enjoying the wild native orchid season and helping with a Fairy Tern project on the coast. However I only just made it back to NZ to experience a near encounter with the 'Grim Reaper'. Hence why no posts on this site during October.
 We are warned that everything in OZ is out to either bite or kill you and I can vouch for that. So if I appear in a hurry to visit friends, places and get things done it's that experience that is driving me.

So what's next.........?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Secret Beach

Today I am in search of a secluded white shell beach that can only be reached by wading across a river when the tide is favourable.



 My favourite estuary is gradually revealing its hidden treasures. This place has been on my list for some years since I read about the small historic cemetery behind this beach.



Today the tide was perfect for an easy paddle (by foot) across the river inlet to explore. A small secluded camp site at the far end was noted and today I had the place to myself which was perfect. On the beach a dead blue penguin which is what the lady earlier in the week had mentioned. Next time I will paddle (kayak) to this location and maybe take the tent and stay a while.


Then back to the little settlement where I had seen Cloud 9 earlier this week and another interesting 'boaty' character who has been exploring this area for 30 years with an amazing kayak like craft with an over sized sail that really moved although it took some time to rig.
 I was away quicker and paddling (kayak) across the estuary. Then looked back to watch his craft disappear out of sight and I thought maybe I should consider a sail for my kayak.

 Ended up for a picnic lunch at another secluded lovely beach. Then a swim as the water temperature is still so pleasant.   

'Barracuda' pulled up the beach

A selfie just for the record.


Photos and more to follow.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Cloud 9

I'm back exploring my favourite North of Auckland estuary and I'm on cloud 9. I love walking and kayaking here. I have often climbed to the top of that hill to enjoy the stunning views of islands and inlets.


Today I'm chatting to a just moved in 'new local' asking him about his wonderful little craft called Cloud 9 and how he finds living in this beautiful location.


 Earlier I chatted to a another keen local. She thought I was from DOC checking on the little blue penguins that have become washed up in the next bay suffering from mal-nutrition. She has been monitoring a trap line in the hills above the estuary for 10 years..

On the way home called into the Waiwera settlement to check out the high tide roost site and dotterel nesting area. Counted 266 South Island pied oystercatcher. 35 Variable oystercatcher, 17 NZ dotterel and 9 red-billed gulls.
 

266 South island Pied oystercatchers
Photos and More to follow..........................................

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fly By

At times you can almost set your watch by the flight of these swamp harriers as they patrol the shell banks around the estuaries at high tide. This is the time that they can spot a number of birds roosting. I was wondering how their nesting went this year with the very high tides.



 Contrary to some local opinion that they nest in high trees around the estuary I tend to trust the observations of an experienced Wildlife Ranger friend  that their nests locally have been in marshland in the Onepoto Reserve and would be very susceptible to the recent high tides just like our 'Shore birds'. I should check this out next season.