Monday, September 11, 2017


Its good to be back in Perth and I am looking forward to meeting up with Bird Life Aus people to vist the nature Reserve on the Swan River. Then travelling South beyond the Margaret River to Denmark.

I'm too early for the Fairy Tern nesting season but have been invited by Dr Nic Bishop 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.

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
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.

I was also interested to see the off-shore line of 7  buoys that are there to protect the shore edge of the Reserve. These are marked with Wild-Life Refuge. 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.

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 Bishop. 30 keen people attended the 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.  More to follow..........

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

Saturday  16th Sept
Orchid and Fairy wren photography in the Cape Leeuwin National park ..........  More to follow.

Sunday 17th Sept
Travelling further South to Denmark via Nannup

Monday 18th
Exploring 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

Photos to follow.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Arrival of the Godwits

It was great to get an email from Graham announcing that three bar-tailed godwits had arrived in Ngataringa Bay.

  I had to check the High tide roost sites this morning and counted 22 now at Ngataringa Bay. Last year they reached 260 recorded at Shoal Bay on the 15th of December 2016.

On a high tide roost site in Shoal Bay estuary there are still two  of the sixty three wrybill, left.  We would have expected them to have left for the South Island for breeding by now.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Miranda Calling

Great to attend the residential NNZ Dotterel course at the Miranda Shorebird Centre this week. John Dowding is the 'Master' when it comes to all things 'dotterel'

John's depth of knowledge through his  research work over many years and his keenness to pass on information to help with dotterel management make for a great few days.

 It was good to catch up with familiar people and some new  from DOC, Auckland Council and other voluntary groups around the East and West Coast too of the North Island.

John teaches the distance that it  is safe to move at risk nests.

Photos to follow.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Time and Tide wait for no man

And for no women either. And so it was that my 'Monday friend' and I  arrived too late and missed the  opportunity to cross  to the northern beach while the tide was favourable.

Trap maintenance

 The river seemed too deep to wade across and I had feelings of deja-vu for a previous attempt by me which ended in a thorough soaking much to everyone's enjoyment a year or three back.

Oh well there was still plenty to see and another two beaches to explore..
More to follow......................

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rivers to the Shore

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Zoo Kids

It's always fun at the Auckland zoo and yesterday with my 'Monday friend' there were lots of laughs as we explored all the fascinating set-pieces housing fascinating creatures from around the World.

 It was good to view the zoo through another persons interest and to take a different route to explore. Even the old Meer Cat tunnels were worth exploring just for the heck of it. We stayed until 5pm winter closing time.

I'm a regular visitor to Auckland zoo whenever I have a couple of hours free as I have an annual pass. I really admire the wonderful location and the huge input to NZ wildlife too and the interest and dedication of the staff.

With both of us having an interest in predator control we were intrigued to  see several rats in pens which was of particular interest for us to try and ID the species. Brown rat or Black rat we wondered. Not easy to ascertain as they move quite fast and with only my small camera I was not able to get a high quality photo this time.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Chew Results.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from our 15 chew cards set up on the shell banks on metal rods but some have been well chewed and some just slightly nibbled and some not touched at all.
 Amy and I also checked out along the  extremely slippery steep slope of the estuary cliff  bush fringe the two lines  above Shoal bay shell banks  and found plenty of chew activity on these tasty lure impregnated cards that we had fixed to trees. Some cards were eaten in half.

Tomorrow we will check out Upper Shoal Bay and Ngataringa park.

Tuesday 25th.

Lotte joined me on a sunny morning to check out and collect up the Upper Shoal chew cards and again quite a lot of rodent activity. In the afternoon I returned to Ngataringa park and collected up the three chew lines of cards.  It was fortunate that I had GPS'd these which made them relatively easy to locate.

Just waiting to hear now how Graham got on with Steve and Cam in Ngataringa bay. Then all  the cards will be ready for collection and analysis by Craig and the Auckland Council  RIMU research unit. It will be interesting to hear what they make of the results.

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Chew This over

Today (Friday) we began our chew card project on five sites that I had designated and offered to the Auckland RIMU ( Research unit)  covering different habitats but aligned to our predator control project.

Amy joined me on this stormy  morning with lightning flashing across the estuary to GPS and fix metal stakes on the Shell Chenier bank at Shoal Bay and this may tell us that rats swim out to these islands that are nesting sites for dotterel, pied stilt and variable oystercatcher and roosting sites for several At risk species of wading bird including wrybill and godwit..

Storm clouds, lightning and a rainbow as we installed the chew cards on metal rods

The chew cards are impregnated with a bait lure to attract rodents and its going to be interesting to re-visit after there nights to see what has nibbled the cards.

Amy was recently in the Norfolk Islands completing her Masters degree so was the ideal person to help me particularly in the afternoon when we tackled the  steep and slippery bush clad cliff edge to fix cards to trees..

Then Yesterday (Saturday) in torrential rain I met up with Emma, Nerida, Stephen and Lotte to lay two chew cards lines in Upper Shoal Bay along the Patuone walkway.

Then in the afternoon Dan helped me set up the three chew card lines in Ngataringa Park.

I was very grateful of all the support for this project particularly on such an atrocious weather weekend.
Next week after three nights we will retrieve the cards for analysis by the  RIMU team and then we will have some base line data.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Out of Africa

A regular pair of Barbary doves live in the area and frequent the bush edge of Shoal Bay as well as local gardens. A native to North Africa but released in New Zealand and now quite widespread in the North Island.

 They regularly drink at my garden pond and find seeds on the driveway and today while one was preening its feathers the other pecked away at the bark of the eucalyptus tree.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hunkered down

Its very cold this morning with a brisk cold southerly. However this wasn't going to deter me from checking if the wrybills were still around at Shoal bay.

I was tempted to just have a quick scan with the binos  but a scope search revealed a group of 42 wrybill at the far end of the Chenier shell bank hunkered down against that strong southerly.

Click on image and count the wrybill - I make it 42

Romeo and Juliet our two resident variable oystercatcher were also present and just one NZ dotterel quite nearby.
I then moved on to check the Bayswater side of Shoal and then to Ngataringa Bay shell bank to further record SIPOS, VOCS, Caspian Terns and Pied stilts.
Photos to follow.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Five Eyes ?

Well actually five signs! To protect the high tide roost and nesting site of shore birds. It was good to meet up with Alex from DOC to add to and replace a rather tired sign at this vulnerable but important site.

Hopefully dog owners will act responsibly and follow the 2015 ruling that Dogs are not permitted on these shell banks.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Nothing Ventured......

Nothing gained! I was wondering what I had let myself in for when I recently volunteered to speak to a Forest and Bird submission at a Resource Management Act (RMA) hearing to try and save a notable tree from demolition ........
More to follow.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Shoal Ngataringa Wader Census Count

It was good to have Jim Eagles join me for this mornings sunrise wader census count. It was a beautiful morning and the estuaries were like mill-ponds. A good spread of species were observed including wrybill, South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Variable Oystercatchers, pied stilt, banded dotterel and NZ dotterel.

Waitemata Wader Census morning- Just like a millpond

SIPOS on High Tide Roost shell bank


Pied stilt with banded dotterel behind

In the afternoon It was good to meet up with Emma and her neighbour Barrie both Upper Shoal Bay local residents to set-up and GPS a new predator control bait line.

Emma and Barrie setting up a bait line

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Miranda Winter Census

A beautiful day to be counting birds after a foggy drive to the Miranda Shorebird Centre. I was pleased to be able to help as we paired up and were sent to different shorebird locations along the coast and inland on some farmland sites. I counted up to 1700 when something disturbed them and had to start again. Gillian was more successful and made it to 2200

That's over half the World population of Wrybill at Miranda today

Wrybill can be fidgety birds not the easiest to count

We will soon be adding our count for Shoal and Ngataringa Bay as our local contribution to the winter Waitemata census.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Strutting Our stuff

Well here I am at the Pest Forum last Monday strutting my stuff explaining the Shoal Environment and where the predator control with help from the 'Ratpack' fits in.

Kym is strutting her stuff too facilitating our meeting


Saturday, June 10, 2017

The French Connection

Great day on the Mangawhai coast meeting up with Sofiane who is an intrepid traveller. Sophiane has travelled extensively through Australia and Japan and is part way to Cape Reinga following the Te Ararowa trail. He had many tales to tell of near death experiences during his travels.

Looking for a safe place to cross this river
 Sofiane was camping nearby on route from Bluff so we asked him to join us for a day exploring the three dune beaches checking traps for predators.

 Three weasels, two hedgehogs and a mouse was a good total for the day. We finished the day with a Cointreau or two and then an Indian meal joined by other friends.

A great day and I'm looking forward to meeting up with Sofiane when he returns to Auckland after completing his walk and also hearing about the next leg of his travels.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Chew Card Project Tour

Its been an eventful week with meetings, walks, attendance at a tree hearing for a notable scheduled listed pohutukawa and today a walk on the wild -side to show Craig from Auckland Council the Shoal and Ngataringa estuary habitats.

 Amy joined us and I was pleased to have her along as she has recently returned from the Norfolk islands where she completed her Masters degree and more work on a bird trans-location project to an off-shore Island.

Craig from the  Auckland Council Biodiversity department is going to help with a chew card project at various locations around the estuaries to check for the presence of rats. We were pleased to listen to his advise and look forward to starting this project including checking the high tide  shell bank roost sites.

It was good to meet up with Roger and Cecilia at Ngataringa Park and be shown around. Then to Ngataringa Bay to meet with Graham to see where cards can be laid on the shell bank.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Wadeable or Swimmable?

With our usual humour I pondered on the idea of writing my memoirs one day and wondered what title I would use for the Chapter about my many Kaipara visits shared with a  good friend. I did it 'Her Way' came to mind

So why are we here? Well many reasons really but checking traps, bait stations, counting birds and other bird projects  are the important  ones. Enjoying a great environment and shared fun also comes pretty high on the list too.

With a particularly high tide our usual slippery muddy walk through the mangroves and estuary edge turned into more of a wade. However the water was not too cold and the chance to get up close with fern bird was another bonus.

Looking back to check that I am still above water.

As the tide recedes we start to dry out and then a shower of rain.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why Care about Wai Care?

Enjoyed attending the macro-invertebrate and Wai Care workshop at Kristin school last Thursday. The team made it really interesting with their great enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject.

Damselfly nymph
 Pond dipping was a favourite past time of mine many years ago and I am keen to get back to exploring the macro-invertebrates of the streams entering our local estuaries. Its another photography project in the making.

Monday, May 22, 2017


SNAP ( Shoal Ngataringa Action Project) for want of a better name at the moment had an informal Afternoon T get-together on Saturday 20th to say a big thanks for their support during the past year.

 I was keen to get together this great team of pest control champions who have been working around the fringe bush of Shoal and Ngataringa bays to protect bird life. I also wanted to share with them the data from CatchIT to support our project. 
Thanks to you all for coming and a big thank you to Terry for putting on a great spread.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Miranda Blue Sky Day

A perfect blue sky day to visit Miranda and catch up with people, watch birds and hear an interesting talk. I reflected on the fact that ten years ago I would drive by the Miranda  Shore Bird centre on my way to and from the Coromandel and wonder what went on inside this building set back from the road. Although I did venture to the hides on several occasions. However I never really timed it right for those high tides..

 Then one day in 2011 I ventured inside and have since spent time meeting and listening to some great people and earlier this year attending the excellent  six day residential Field Study course.


Chestnut-breasted Shelduck

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Love Point England Rally

My first time to see this great area of community playing fields and farmland bordering the estuary. An important area too for some of our at risk species of birds, NZ dotterel, Shore plover..

Good to support the people who are standing up against the National Governments attempt to change the law to allow  Reserve land  to be built on. If passed this Bill  could set a precedent for other reserves to be gobbled up by development.

More to follow

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Island Hopping

Great day today with superb weather ideal for an island visit. Thanks to Nick and Joel for sharing your extensive knowledge about these fascinating geckos and skinks.


Moko Skink
Long-Tailed Blue

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dotterel Forum

I attended my third Dotterel Forum today, this year at Ambury park. It was great to come across so many familiar faces.

I have learnt a lot from listening to the dotterel care groups around Auckland share their successes and challenging times protecting dotterel at these forums. This year Ben Paris had asked me to be the Keynote speaker and I was almost disappointed to be asked because I thought I would not learn anything today if I was talking about the Shoal Bay project and just listening to myself..

Fortunately several members had presentations to share which gave me new ideas to take back to our project on the North Shore. A big thanks to Gwenda Pulham and Ben for organising this event and allowing me to share my presentation entitled 'Keeping the Shell Banks safe for Birds-Defending Safe Habitat'

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Goat Island Marine Reserve.

Great Forest & Bird visit today to the Goat Island Marine reserve with an excellent guided tour of the wet tanks and talk by Tim. Thanks John for organising such an interesting tour.

Elaine, Helen and I then went on to Mathesons bay for a walk up the stream track and then stopped for lunch.

Then with still time to spare we called in at the Omaha Wildlife reserve to see the large flock of banded dotterels.

The final visit for the day was to call in at Charlie's ice cream shop at Matakana for an ice cream to round of a great day.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Motuora Island

A rough ride to Motuora Island this morning with a strong Easterly but once in the shelter of the Island all was good. Lots of work to do including clearing a large earth slip that had fallen across the track to the Ridge track. Dave was keen for us to help clear this. So about six of us shovelled the earth to make a track possible.

More to follow.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Hauraki School Shell Bank clean-up

It was great to be asked to help with the Hauraki school shell bank clean-up at Shoal Bay this morning following my talk and Power Point to the Middle School on Wednesday..

At twenty past nine a  huge crowd of children with their teachers and parent helpers descended on the shell beach at Charles street to begin the clean up. The students excitedly searched for plastic rubbish stopping only to ask the occasional question about birds, look through my scope at pied stilt and dotterel  or re-fit their sometimes loose and stuck in the mud gumboots. A magic morning!

Photos to follow.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hauraki School-'Keeping the Shell Banks Safe for Birds'

Great to be invited  to talk to six classes of the Middle school of  Hauraki Primary today. My talk entitled 'Keeping the Shell Banks safe for Birds'.

Dodging the heavy rain I arrived early to a welcome by Chelsea the teacher who is   organising the beach clean-up. The students were amazing, asking some great questions and I'm looking forward to helping them with their beach clean up on Friday morning on the Shell Banks..

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Shoal Bay has legs!

And that's not just the 80 pied stilts pairs of  pink legs that I counted today. No I'm talking about the pest control  project that is part of the  North West Wild-link (NWWL).

 Our aims are to help the bush birds already present along the bush edge of the estuary and also to protect the nesting and roosting site of some 12 threatened and at risk  bird species including shore birds that regularly use the shell banks to rest after feeding and some including the NZ dotterel, Variable Oystercatcher and pied stilt for nesting..

 These birds include my Famous Five birds that are mentioned in the DOC designation of Shoal Bay and Ngataringa Bay as a  site of Special Wildlife Interest. Those five birds are the NZ dotterel, the banded dotterel, the wrybill, Caspian Tern and reef heron. The very secretive banded rail is also present in Shoal bay.

This project has attracted more support from Auckland Council with a facilitator to help us work through the issues with a vision going forward to help with the sustainability of the project.

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Omaha to Pakiri via Mathesons Bay

A leisurely day visiting a few favourite places and sharing them with a fellow birder and all round naturalist Ed who will be shortly heading back to the UK after a year in NZ. I bumped into Ed a year ago on Rangitoto Island. I wish you Good luck for your next travels in Scotland and hope to meet up again in NZ in the future..