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.