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

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


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.