Monday, March 19, 2018

Shoal Bay - High Tide Roost Count.

Combined Totals for two Chenier shell banks of ( Big) Shoal Bay  - High Tide at 9.45  of 3.3Metres high.

Birds recorded
Wrybill  x 18
Pied Stilt x 111
SIPOS  x 94
VOCS x 10
NZ dotterel x2
SBBG x 3 (2juvs)
White faced Heron x 2
Caspian Tern X 1  (juv) (photographed fishing)

                     Caspian shaking its head in flight after diving for fish.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Port Waikato - Fossil hunting

 Port Waikato ticks all the boxes with its remote feel, sand dune environment, on the south side of the outflow of where the mighty Waikato river flows into the Tasman sea.

Sarah from 'Wildlands' is going to lead the way and navigate the dunes to top up the species list for this habitat.

The last time I was here was maybe over 15 years ago and a visit was way overdue. I'm enjoying re-visiting a few places that I haven't touched on for a while. Today I am checking out the ephemeral wetlands within  the dunes of the great sand dune area North of the settlement.  In their dry state you could hardly call them wetlands with just subtle  hints of  stunted glasswort and hundreds of tiny dead fish trapped by receding recent King tides.

In good company we trek across the dunes searching  for interesting specimens and then Janeen excitingly discovers a bird dropping spider and knowing her sense of humour I thought she was kidding but its real. A spider that looks like bird poo. Although they are a native orb spider they have no orb web just a single thread and hanging egg sacs. I was fascinated. Its my first. I'm a bird poo spider virgin!

Later after exploring the dunes it was time for fossil hunting at the beach cliffs at the southern end of the settlement. Below is a Belemnite (squid) found on a previous visit. Soon we were turning over every rock and within about 10mins had come up with some samples of plant fossils..

Photos and More to follow...........................

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Northland- A close encounter with the Past

The last time I was in Kerikeri was with Bot Soc last year as a base for a look at  Moturua Island.  This wonderful island is communally managed. A memorable time spent exploring the bush and watching morepork young.
Heading to Northland but first a diversion off the main Highway to explore the Matuari Bay loop re-visiting some delightful coastal beaches including Matauri Bay, Te Ngaere Bay and  Tauranga Bay to watch a large gathering of white fronted tern and dotterel and pied stilt. I camped at Matauri Bay a few years ago almost front row to the beach and it was good fun. updated 15th

Matauri Bay Church

Thurs 8th March

Today heading to Coopers Bay to stay a while then on to explore the Karekare peninsular including Matai bay.

Fri 9th March 
From Cable bay to Taipa and a great find Ramp road with a self containment camping site right on Tokerau beach. It would be good to return here to explore the Aurere inlet.  Rotopokaka dune lake nearby also known as Coco Cola lake due to its colour.
  Then stopped at Waiporohita lake to watch birds. Counted many Canada geese and Great Cormorant (Black Shags) drying out on a row of posts. It's a small  lake at the junction to Rangiputu and Puheke beach road or North to Matai Bay..

After counting the birds at the lake then headed on to the beautiful Puheke beach with amazing white sand for a walk and thought what a stunning spot this is below the nearby Rangiputu mountain that appears to separate and seclude Karekare beach to the North.

 Backtracked to explore a couple of roads leading to small coastal subdivisions and headed on North to  Matai Bay for a few swims followed by lunch on the beach which was most welcome.
Returned South to the Gumdiggers DOC Reserve of Ohio lake. I had noticed this on the way up before the turning to Ramp Rd and beach.

Sat 10th March   updated 15th
Today in Mongonui topping up with food, internet and heading to Taupo Bay to explore. Annoying to see dogs chasing dotterels on this beach. Later to Hihi bay which has an extensive forest at its far end and a flock of roosting white-fronted terns.

In the afternoon I drove back to just North of Taipa to explore Aurere Beach Road South of the Aurere inlet but with Maori settlements near the coast and cars blocking the road It didn't seem such a welcoming place and I had to give up. Returned to Taipa to count 50 SIPOS and a handful of VOCs.

Sund 11th March
With the approaching cyclone Hola today was spent exploring the two Pa sites at either end of Coopers beach. The Southern end Rangikapiti Pa I remembered climbing some years ago. There are great views over Mongonui harbour and North to the Northern Pa sites of Coopers beach. Spotted the native Coastal morning glory (Pouwhiwhi) growing over a hedge and fence nearby.

Taumarumaru Reserve a DOC reserve at the Northern end of Coopers beach has three Pa sites and was great to explore as its an extensive area with beach access for a swim or two to cool off. A huge amount of problem weed plants here.

Ohumumo Pa one of the three Pa sites at Taumarumaru DOC Reserve
Then back to Taipa again to count 243 white fronted Terns and 25 godwit at the river mouth.

Mond 12th March
Heading South to stay at the Tutukaka coast at a fantastic headland location near the Lighthouse above Tutukaka. After venturing out to the harbour in the evening for food it was good to be in a strong building as the wind and rain from cyclone Hola was now battering the headland and the sea was just wild crashing onto the rocks below.

Tuesday 13th March
What a difference a day makes. Watching the sunrise over a calm sea first light it was a new day and so just had to backtrack to Matapouri Bay for a beach and estuary walk. This is still one of my favourite coastline areas. Then stopped as usual at Ngungaru to check out birds on the estuary.

 On the road again to Waipu Cove and the beautiful Langs white sand beach.

Summary updated15th
A  successful foray into Northland again. I remembered that in the early 1990's when I first ventured to Matauri Bay I thought it was just the place to throw away my watch as it seemed that time didn't matter in these places. Just the sunrise and sunset and a few hours in between. Now the road is tar- sealed and it looks like a sub-division has been laid out on the hills above the beach.

Travelling further North I still had that timeless feeling and will return soon if only to carefully check out the many large flocks of roosting white fronted terns on the many beaches I walked checking for  any vagrant terns sheltering around their edges. Will also walk South from Ramp Road to the Aurere inlet and check out other inlets of the Ranganui harbour. And of course maybe just throw away my watch!

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Excellent talk today at the Miranda Shorebird Centre by Jesse Conklin about the mysteries of Bar-tailed godwit migration. Good to catch up with a few familiar faces including another participant  in the Field Study course I attended here in 2017.

Miranda shorebird area is just inundated with water even with a 3.6 M tide. The thought is that something has changed after the recent storms and this is the reason the area is so waterlogged.

I spent time on the Kaiaua shell banks. It was quieter there and there were birds in high numbers.

I'm heading to Northland next. First stop Kerikeri then further North to Cable Bay and beyond I haven't explored this area for quite a while.

Friday, March 2, 2018


I have been consistently uploading my Shoal Bay bird data to eBird since it was recommended by the Miranda Shorebird people. This is an excellent citizen science piece of software run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I now have several hundred data entries of High Tide counts and other observations. These are not for public access but I do share the links with other interested parties including Auckland Council biodiversity people, Miranda people, and other interested folk..

 I still have some back dated entries going back to 2012 and also many photos to add. My method at a count is to photograph first then count using the scope. The photographs back up the counts and sometimes reveal something missed.

I will add a couple of links to this entry soon to share. More to follow