Wednesday, September 26, 2018

WA 2018 - Fairy Tern observations, an orchid search at kojonup and evening surveys at Pelican Point Reserve.

They say timing is everything. Well I have just arrived back in Perth, WA on Sunday  and have been invited to the Pelican Point Springtime  dinner at the Allegro Pizza following an evening counting birds at Pelican Point Reserve- Perfect Timing.

Tuesday 25th.
Fremantle in the morning.

Street Art Fremantle

Then to Pelican point Nature Reserve on the Swan River to meet up for the weekly bird count. 26 species in all including a yellow spoonbill, Little egret and crake. Finishing the evening off with an enjoyable meal at the Allegro pizza restaurant on the Stirling Highway. Its good to meet up again with Murray, Kath, Charles, John, Barbara, Jean, Jim and Sue.

  More to follow....

Wednesday 26th
Wireless Hill to check out the state of the wildflowers and search for orchids and soon rewarded with several species.

Point Walter in the afternoon to search for Fairy Tern. I'm rather too early in the season but it appears that Council staff have been out to the spit to put up the taped fence and signage across the nesting area.
I find a pair of Pied Oystercatchers below the cliffs behaving as if on nesting territory. Little balck shags flying around.

Thursday 27th September.

Point Walter in the afternoon.

Red -capped plover today feeding along the sandbank edge.

Tuesday 2nd October

Rous Head - Nankeen Night Heron watching fishermen from the rocks of the causeway.

Wednesday 3rd October.
Rous Head

Thursday 4th October

Kings park Orchids including Spider and Cowslip orchids.

Friday 5th October

Kojonup -stopping at Williams on the way down and there by the river  male and female splendid Fairy wrens and a yellow rumped thornbill.   In the afternoon a quick visit to the Myrtle Benn Reserve to find spider orchids and wispy spider orchids as well as cowslip orchids. photos to follow.........

Saturday 6th October.
Farrar dam reserve to search for dragon and mantis orchids near the railway dam. I found mantis orchids and on our way to the dam at the fork of the rack a wide verity of including purple enamel, pink enamel, Cowslip, spider, and plenty of wild flowers . photos to follow...........

I walked along the dam wall and spotted four red fronted birds couldn't get a photo as they were too fast. Probably red breasted chats.

Great to be staying at the beautiful and interesting historic Clover House with Kerrie busy in her beautiful garden preparing for an 'Open Day'

Back to the Myrtle Ben Reserve in the afternoon for a closer look at the trees and orchids of this habitat. photos to follow.................

Sunday 7th
Left Kojonup and headed North but turned West to travel through Collie to Bunbury and then the coastal road to Mandurah to check out the Fairy Tern sanctuary site. Hoping to catch-up with Claire the researcher on another day to hear how things are going with the sanctuary monitoring project. Claire has been playing FT recordings and deploying the decoys early in the morning to attract the birds to inhabit this potential nesting site as the birds historic site nearby is now a building site.

Monday 8th October

Perth Zoo.

Tuesday 9th October
Rous Head
Interesting watching an Australian Darter struggle with a giant fish which it eventually managed to swallow but only after leaving the water and bashing the fish on the rocks before flipping it around and swallowing it whole.

Then late afternoon headed to the Pelican  reserve to meet up with the monitoring team. An impending storm with huge black clouds meant that we moved around the Reserve quickly with less than the normal number  of species recorded due partly to the difficult light level.  An estimated large group of Little black shags were on the beach.

Wednesday 10th October 
An early 5am start to drive to Mandurah to meet up with Claire and her team to see her decoy and vocalisation project study between  6.15am and 8.15am at the new (2017) Fairy tern colony nesting site.
The moment I arrived and stepped out of the car I could hear Fairy Tern and see them flying above the site. Occasionally  a  group of up to 10 would settle on the open area away from the decoys that had been deliberately placed at not the potentially premium  nesting area of the site. The birds seemed keen to show and defend this territory from a Raven that decided to settle on the ground nearby but was soon removed after enduring swooping action by the FT

Thursday 11th October.
an excellent visit to Penguin Island one of the Shoal Island group. So many Bridle terns with crested terns on the beach. Little (blue) penguins hiding in rock tunnels and lizards venturing out from their hiding places to bask in the sun. Weather ideal a good temperature for walking around the island with a steady breeze. Few people as mid-week and this added to making it a great day.

Crested Tern with fish

Friday  12th October.
Point Walter at 11.45am and immediately heard Fairy Tern very high above and very vocal. Walking towards the sanctuary at the far end I watched several FT hovering then diving for fish. The tide was across the sandspit and a number of birds were roosting at the far end including at least 15 Fairy tern along the water edge with a similar number of crested terns and four red-capped plover (two pairs) and two shags. Other fairy tern flew by me so I would estimate that maybe 20 birds were around.

Follow Up.
Claire has passed on that today Friday 12th October  at the Mandurah site the birds only settled for a very short time as no sound  was used today as part of the study to entice the birds  in compared with the other day when the sound recording was played and the birds were attracted and  spent 75mins on the ground.
Claire also shared some excellent photos that showed nests with eggs, and some images of chicks and juveniles too. The shell around the nests was perfect camouflage for the chicks.

Saturday 13th October
Fremantle in the morning then to Manning lake in the afternoon. Manning lake is one of the lakes in
the Beeliar regional park which is one of a series  of numerous wet-lands set aside by the DPaW (Parks & Wildlife).
Its a small lake entirely surrounded by paperbark trees. As I approached the lake I heard and saw a large number of white Little Corella roosting noisily in a paperbark tree. Then walked around the lake and spotted ibis, ducks, Galah and a few birds I have yet to identify.

Sunday 14th October  10.30 am.
Alfred Cove wetland reserve just beyond Point Walter. Watched 12 pelicans, 44 black swans, pacific ducks and 12 pied stilt ( black winged stilt). Then three Fairy tern diving for fish for ten mins before heading back in the Point Walter direction. Very gusty with intermittent rain.

Photos to follow.............................

More to follow

Friday, September 14, 2018

Godwits arrival to Shoal & Ngataringa Bays.

Following a tip- off that four godwit had been seen in Ngataringa Bay by Graham  on  Wednesday the 12th and following my return from the Kaipara I headed out on Thursday morning to find them.

This was timed perfectly with an article that I had been helping  a reporter from the North Shore Times put together and which appeared online the day before.
 As I approached Ngataringa estuary just before high tide I saw two groups of birds take off probably due to the strong winds hitting the shell bank there and so they were flying in the direction  of Shoal bay. I was soon able to locate a small group of South Island pied oystercatcher ( SIPOS) and 10 bar-tailed godwit resting on a shell bank. Later I also found three other godwit on another shell bank also in Shoal Bay.

 The birds looked in remarkably good condition considering their 11.5 thousand kilometre flight from Alaska.

Today I returned to all three shell banks to check them out and the ten godwit were still present as a group with the SIPOS nearby.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

FT Decoys

Helping with the deployment of some excellent Fairy Tern decoys on the shell patch sites in the Kaipara.

  More to follow...……………..

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Foggy Trek

Heading North. Cant see a thing. More to follow...…………….

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Coastal - North Springtime

A weekend away exploring my favourite estuary. I head for my usual favourite hill walk with great views of the estuary. In the distance I can see another favourite climb of mine Mnt Tamahunga.

Pine trees are important trees for White -faced heron to nest in.

More to follow...……….

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Mangawhai estuary

Its very quiet here out of season and good to be exploring the estuary staying in vantastic.

More to follow...………………….

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Motukaraka Island.

A visit to Motukaraka Island is a first for me and I'm keen to get going so I'm on my way...

More to follow...………...……………….

Sunday, August 5, 2018

East Coast Beaches

A cold Southwesterly persistent wind lowered the temperature considerably and was not good for wading across streams and rivers. . We completed our visit to three beaches to check traps and re-bait.

We looked forward to summer visits when crossing streams would be a pleasant opportunity to cool off.

Saturday, August 4, 2018


The Environment Protection Authority were holding a  workshop in the Maritime room at the Maritime museum and a friend had been invited  so I went along yesterday and found the really helpful staff outlined for me how the EPA works and its role in protecting the EEZ ( the Exclusive Economic Zone), the waters surrounding New Zealand from 12 Nautical miles out to sea.

More to follow

Friday, July 20, 2018

Wetapunga Translocation

Heading to Motuora Island to help with the wetapunga ( giant weta) translocation of captivity bred weta from Auckland zoo.

More to follow...………………………..

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Okura Presentation to Auckland Council

Late Post This Tuesday 10th July I attended the Long Bay Okura Great Park Society presentation at the Auckland Town Hall. A  serious technical report by eCoast on behalf of the society was presented  outlining the shameful amount of sediment that is entering the estuary from developments surrounding the catchment of the Marine Reserve.

More to follow.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Kaipara kayak

Heading North weather looks good for a paddle in the kaipara for the Kaipara project. Yes a perfect day with virtually no wind and the kaipara was just like a millpond.
The highlight of the day apart from warm sunshine was 10 spoonbill feeding at the edge in a similar spot that we had seen them on a previous visit.
Paddling back was just magic and we took it slowly enjoying every minute

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Here we go again!

One of the largest trees in the area a macrocarpa in a garden in Northboro' road is  being destroyed because its roots venture into the Rutherford Street,  Ngati Whatua Orakei development area. Old large trees are  important trees for morepork and other birds like white faced herons to roost ( rest)  and nest safely.

Macrocarpa destruction Northboro Rd

View from Rutherford Street

 29 trees are being destroyed on the Rutherford  site This Liquid amber tree was the first to go.

Rutherford liquid amber
Partly felled liquid amber

More  trees will be removed  in the Northboro Reserve as part of the Reserve land swap sanctioned by the Local Devonport Takapuna board.
Auckland Council do recognise that large trees are in short supply in the Auckland area and are important to soak up storm water, add shade, and soak up carbon to help the climate but they continue to allow them to be destroyed.

 The Council are still sending out mixed messages that they support the Forest and Bird initiative of the North West Wild-link a tree covered corridor to allow birds to move between the bird friendly islands  to the Waitakeres. So why do they continue to sanction the destruction of so many trees?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Little Blue Release & Catch-Up

From South Head at the weekend to Wenderholme today and just in time for the release of a little penguin that was reluctant to leave the care of the bird sanctuary. But today after turning back it was finally back in the wild on a dog free reserve.  More to follow...……….

Saturday, May 26, 2018


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


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................................