Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Dotterel Success Year Beginning 2023

 I have posted before about the lack of success and unwelcome interference of nests at Mahurangi Regional Reserve. Today we see some good news that a dotterel has survived from egg to chick and has now fledged (able to fly). This is great news and the first for the Reserve in 10 years. 

We have also had similar success at Shoal estuary with one chick fledged. Each year the NZ dotterel struggle with high tides and eggs and chicks being taken by hawks during their summer nesting time..

This is a great beginning to 2023 for local wildlife.

Saturday, December 31, 2022


Good to feel that things have returned to near normal after the pandemic disruption of the last couple of years. For many of us this was nothing more than inconvenient. I hate to think how we would have coped if a full-scale war was on our doorstep as in Ukraine...

Protection of the environment continues to be a challenge with the onslaught of poorly planned development in and around Auckland. Trees have been decimated and at every turn the powers that be resist discussing any meaningful tree protection. Unfortunately, trees get in the way of unbridled development and development rules in Auckland!

2023 will be a continual concern from those that care and have a vision of reducing our war with Nature and following the Science that has shown that if we protect our environment, it will protect us.

A Happy New Year to All.


Monday, December 19, 2022


 The 'powers that be' have finally woken up to the fact that inconsistent signage since 2013 has not helped keep dogs off a designated 'SEA Marine 1' Chenier shell bank in Shoal (Oneoneroa) estuary. This habitat is important to ground nesting and roosting shorebirds.

Frustrated by this inaction of 'duty of care' & constant sign changes I sent Council staff a pdf of photos and dates of all variations of signs that I had recorded at this edge of Shoal estuary since 2013. I asked why the clearest 'No Dogs' signage was removed in March 2020 only four months after it was installed following Council asking me what sign should be used. It was then replaced with yet another ambiguous sign. Signage should clearly reflect the 2012 (amended 2015) dog bylaw.

Good to see that quite recently these three newly designed signs have appeared.  We are hoping that now there is no excuse for dogs being taken on the shell banks at this location.

Now Three NO DOGS signs.

Clear & concise signage is essential.

The next challenge is to get these new signs into other sensitive habitat sites at Shoal and Ngataringa estuary.  How long will that take????

Friday, December 2, 2022

Northland Coastal Escape

First to  Ruakaka for a couple of nights to enjoy the estuary and wildlife reserve. Eleven Royal spoonbill feeding at the estuary edge. Later in the afternoon as the tide came in at least one hundred gannets plummeting out of the sky almost colliding as they go after shoals of fish. 

Little shags roost in a favoured tree between fishing expeditions and the tides.

It was fun watching this young Welcome Swallow eagerly waiting to be fed. Its parents were away for some times more than 15 minutes searching for food to bring back to the young one's perch point on an old fence post. 

Then further North on to my happy space for more nights, more walks and swims in this secluded beautiful bay with back hills and bush to explore.


Saturday, November 19, 2022

In Pursuit of Champions

 'In pursuit of champions' is the latest publication by Keith Woodley about the story of the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre.

It was great to hear Keith narrate the early beginnings of the Centre and hear about some of the characters and people who campaigned for the Centre to be built. 

I enjoyed catching up with a variety of people today some of which I haven't seen for a while especially with the disruptions of the Covid 19 lockdowns during 2020 and 2021.

This is another excellent book by Keith. I'm more than halfway through and enjoying every minute of it. The interwoven story of the tidal dependent shorebirds and the progression of development of the Shorebird Centre is a compelling story and Keith adds some darn good yarns about the people involved too.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Welcome to the Godwits!

 Great support today for our Godwit event at Sandy Bay Road.

Each year during September the bar-tailed godwit return to New Zealand from their breeding grounds in Northern Alaska a near 12,000 km nonstop flight. We are fortunate to have over 200 birds that choose Shoal and Ngataringa estuaries to stay during our summer months enjoying the estuary food of worms and crustaceans, before they are ready to leave the following March. Then they complete the cycle by returning to Alaska via a stopover in China to feed up to prepare again for breeding in Alaska. A round trip of nearly 30,000 kms.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Heading South

 Heading South after viewing the beautiful gardens at Hamilton. Then to Cambridge staying in a well laid out campsite where the trees mostly nonnative look magnificent. So good to see tall, large trees. In Auckland our trees are being cut down due to rampant uncontrolled development. Trees in Cambridge town appear well cared for and those in the surrounding countryside too.

 Volunteers desperately plant new trees in public reserves around Auckland but it's the loss on private properties that is the real worry. Development rules and trees have no protection in Auckland as they get in the way of intensive development. This is a third World approach to trees that should be saved as mitigation for increasing issues with climate disruption. Trees should be part of development projects. We have lost so many large trees in the city.

Then to Waitomo and an afternoon drive out to the wild coast to visit Marokopa a small Maori settlement that I last visited maybe 15 years ago. It hasn't changed but I had forgotten what a windy road it was to get there. This time we didn't cut through to New Plymouth but stayed the night at Waitomo before heading there the following day.

More to follow.

Monday, October 10, 2022

The Godwits are back

 Fresh from their 11000-kilometer direct flight from Alaska the godwit numbers have built up during the last few weeks to 183. On the 15th of October during 2020 we counted 181 so that's a very consistent number to have returned.

 We also have a special research bird that was tagged up with coloured flags in China in April 2020 on route North via Chinea to Alaska to breed. This will be the third yearly visit I have watched this godwit. in Shoal and Ngataringa estuary.

Today the conditions were good this morning for an 8.24 am 3.3 metre  High Tide and so the birds were roosting on a small shell bank with variable oystercatchers, South Island pied oystercatcher's, NZ dotterel and pied stilt.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Takangariki Island

Takangariki Island better known as Rabbit Island is on route to kawau island from Sandspit.

It's a beautiful privately owned island of just over two hectares with its own jetty.

Today I am here with a group from the Auckland Botanical society who intend to survey the botanical interest of the island. I'm here because I love the Islands of the Hauraki Gulf.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Jutland Reserve water testing.

While out this morning checking a bait line at Shoal estuary it was a chance to meet up with teachers and students from Hauraki school. With the help of very informative Auckland Councils sustainable schools' staff and the RTH team they were busy learning about water quality and how to test some of the ephemeral streams that flow into shoal estuary mainly after heavy rain. 

It was disturbing to hear that they originally were to test a stream at Northboro Reserve, but the water quality was not deemed safe enough for the students to be involved.

This is indicative of the sad state of the quality of the water that enters through poorly maintained outfall pipes into our local estuaries. This all adds to degradation of water quality in the Hauraki Gulf.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Patuone Southern Boardwalk

 The rather contentious building of the Patuone Southern board walk is well underway. This is stage 2 of the Patuone Reserve walkway upgrade long overdue but now widened considerably to accommodate future use by  cycles and evehicles.

This structure intrudes into the Special Ecological Area (SEA)  which is designated as  Marine 2 on the Auckland Unitary Plan.

 This area is the known habitat of the DOC classified as AT Risk banded rail. A cryptic species now totally dependent on mangrove filled estuaries North of Auckland apart from one or two other sites in NZ including Nelson. The mangroves allow the banded rail to move around the estuary discretely protecting them from aerial predation. Rats and cats are also a risk for this species so since 2017 we have been monitoring a bait line in this area..

Yesterday with the help from volunteers from  Oceanbridge  we  planted more trees supplied by the Kaipatiki project nursery to improve the biodiversity of this reserve. A big thanks to Dan Marrow from Auckland Council who organised the event..

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

On The Wire

 During the last couple of weeks we have seen a plump healthy looking kereru on the powerlines in our street and at the Northboro Road entrance to Northboro reserve today. This is a little unusual as kereru have traditionally been more often seen on the seaward side of Lake road.

Except for a couple of times in past years when they ventured across our street or stopped briefly on a powerline http://creativemomentsimagesblog.blogspot.com/search?q=kereru they just are not seen .

 Hopefully this is going to be a more common event. I have always put the reason down to a lack of sightings to not enough  attractive food plants nearby. This cannot have changed in such a short space of time. 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Transmitter Track

Shamrock Pea found on Transmitter track in the Waitakeri Ranges during a Bot Soc walk, 

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

Monday, May 16, 2022


First stop Ruakaka . A small group of godwits about 30 at the estuary edge feeding with pied stilt. The usual NZ dotterel and banded dotterel feeding as the tide recedes.

Disturbed three spoonbill and a white faced heron perched in the trees along the estuary edge.

Now at Russell. Morepork calling each evening and through the night. Disturbed one after dark that screeched from its perch place in a garden tree.

Weka scurry about the campsite trying to get into vehicles in the morning.

Have just driven into Paparoa. Will stay the night and then join the BOT Soc survey walk along the Paparoa walkway. The temperature has dropped along with some squally showers but we are well rugged up to cope.

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

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Coromandel return to Colville

 Headed down the Miranda coast. Thousands of bar-tailed godwits and knots ready for their migration North. Some may already have left heading for China first and then to Alaska to breed.

 Good numbers of wrybill have arrived from the South Island and have settled in the arid dry stilt ponds at high tide. A small group were feeding along  the Kauai coast. including this metal banded bird..

 Then via Thames and driving North  up the Thames coastline to Coromandel town. Stayed at the little campsite on an estuary nearby. Then on to Colville passing some historic little settlements. 

We are soon on gravel roads with Mt Moehau ahead. We turn inland and cross a small hill range via a windy gravel road and soon drive past a vast wetland before the DOC campsite at Waikawau bay.

This is a beautiful location to stop for some days to explore. The beach is stunning and is 3.5kms long. It has a backdrop of some huge sand dunes.  The beach has to walked each day to reach a high tide roost site at the Northern river end. This roost attracts  white fronted terns, NZ dotterel, banded dotterel, & Caspian tern.  Five pairs of variable oyster catcher are spaced out along the 3.5 km beach but only one pair have a single juvenile bird with them and they are at the Northern end.

There are plenty of other walks including one at the southern end of the beach with fine views down the full length of the beach and with Mt. Moehau in the far distance. At the southern end and running into the campground is a smaller river and  wetland.. 

We hear the call of kiwi early evening shortly after dusk and a morepork throughout each night in the distance. With no wi-fi signal this is heaven. Such a peaceful place.

More to follow.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Heading North.

Ruakaka on the East coast first stop. Always a great place for shorebirds and sea birds. Walking through the estuary and mangroves at  low tide I came upon two spoonbill preening themselves on a dead tree with a white faced heron. So this is where they roost after feeding. 

Always looking out for banded rail in these mangrove areas. Not many godwit this time but thousands of fluttering shearwater out to sea.

Pied stilt feeding at high tide.

Then North to  the Tutukaka coastline always a favourite. Beachfront at Whangamu.  Walked the coastal track via the lookout to Ngungaru. 

At Matapouri the  clifftop walk to Whale bay is always a must. Swimming at Whale bay perfectly refreshing clear water on a very warm day. Tawapou grows here a tree found on the off shore islands.

Then north to Kawakawa to drop in on the Bay of Islands heritage railway for coffee then on to stay at Russell. Its very hot about 30C so plenty of swims at Long Bay over the hill from the town.

Then across to the West coast to Koutu Point near Opononi. Must be the best view if the Hokianga water on three sides. Thanks to the couple we met at Matheson's Bay a few weeks back for recommending this site.

Then south past the sandy beaches of Opononi through some amazing landscapes to the Waipoua forest then a first to Bayly's beach  on the wild and rugged west coast. 

 Then Ruawai The name literally translated from Maori means 'two waters' referring to the nearby Northern Wairoa River and Kaipara HarbourThe  boat ramp  is always interesting at this time of the year to  watch  white fronted terns feeding their young.

The little 1889 Zion church just off the road between Ruawai and Pahi is always worth a stop. Sadly each time I visit the church has deteriorated more. I guess its a case of note enough money to restore it. Although the lawn surrounding is well rimmed so someone must be regularly visiting.

And Pahi what a delightful little place.  Always a hive of activity particularly watching the regular oyster boats  toing and frowing the the old Pahi hotel.

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

Thursday, February 10, 2022

China Olympic Medal Winner for longest flight

  I needed to check on the birds at Shoal and do a shorebird count today. Within a short time I had spotted the bar-tailed godwit with the Chinese leg flag. This godwit has stayed since its arrival moving between Shoal and Ngataringa estuaries. 

Surely if there was an Olympic event for shorebirds this species would win Gold for their epic flight in September of around 11,500 kms none stop to New Zealand from Alaska and soon in March a 10,000 km flight to China on route to Alaska for the breeding season.

Update Two days later on Saturday 12th.

A fortunate chance to get closer to the flock I was able to get this photo and confirm that this is indeed the same godwit that stayed with the Shoal /Ngataringa flock the previous season too.

This godwit had flags attached at Yalu Jiang in April 2020

Friday, January 28, 2022

Kohuroa River Walkway


The tell tale sign of a kingfisher nest is a hole in a tree, in this case a puriri, with noisy chicks inside. That  sound builds to a crescendo rather like cicadas when the chicks hear the adults calling bringing fresh food to them.

A strong Easterly hits the Bay

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Miranda-Time for Reflection.

 A perfect hot, calm and blue sky day to visit the Miranda Shorebird Centre and catch up with Keith to hear news about the birds and Centre activities. Also to share sad notes about the loss of a great member of the shorebird team-Jim Eagles who sadly  passed away just recently.

I had many enjoyable meetings with Jim when he joined me for the Wader bird counts at Shoal and Ngataringa estuaries over recent years . We would chat over coffee afterwards and he was such an interesting and learned man to share some time with. He is deeply missed by all. 

Visiting Miranda brought that home today and it was good to have some quiet time reflecting on lost friends while enjoying the many thousands of birds some feeding but mostly roosting at high tide today. 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Camping at the Kohuroa Walkway

 We were here at a similar time last year ago van camping near the walkway. The weather is brilliant with a gentle sea breeze to keep the heat down but with plenty of swims at the nearby bay that was not problem at all. No sign of young NZ dotterel this year but fun watching two young kingfisher begging their parents for food.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Kaipara - The Terns

The mission was to check out the white fronted Tern colony that had been displaced by recent storm driven high tides and so the birds had Island hopped to this smaller Island to continue nesting. 

We had the usual low tide drag of the the kayaks through and to the muddy channel edge but knew we would be rewarded on the way home later as the tide would be  in with a lovely paddle back right up to the boat ramp.

The birds were certainly here in large numbers we estimated between 350 -400 nesting pairs although it was difficult to ascertain if all the birds on the ground were nesting. as it was now high tide.

 Certainly we could see the heads of the white fronted tern chicks as they peeped out from under their parents protective wings. In amongst them was a SBBGull nest complete with a well developed juvenile. Predation could be a risk for the white fronted terns with such capable predators in their midst. 

Also at this high tide roost site were a mix of thousands of SIPO's, red-billed gulls. Knots and Bar-tailed Godwit all rather fidgety and suddenly they were all up except the nesting white fronted terns who just stayed on task protecting their young and eggs. 

Just before this estimated 6- 7 thousand mix of species  took off five Fairy tern with their flickering  quick direction changing flight flew in briefly but soon left heading down the eastern side of the island. Later we were able to observe one of these birds at the western high tide roost site that the disturbed birds had now settled at.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Old Year Out

 The clock is ticking to the beginning of a 2022. There are many reasons to put 2021 behind us but then for many of us its not been so bad when you consider the turmoil that exists in so many places on our shared planet Earth.

So I'm for thanking all the people who have made it an enjoyable experience and for the opportunities I have had to enjoy their company and engage with good conversations and a shared enjoyment of Nature. One of those people is Jim Eagles who sadly passed away very recently. I will miss Jim and our regular catchups when counting the shorebirds at Shoal and Ngataringa estuaries for wader bird counts. And on other occasions at Miranda and on Cheltenham beach. Our condolences go out to Chris and their family. 

Other sadness at this time of the year is remembering my sister Susanne who passed at Christmas time last year. My thoughts are with her family too.

So, let's all enjoy what we have and the friends we value and share a toast to another year ahead.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Mahurangi Vision

The tide was perfect today to allow me to cross from the Mahurangi Regional park to Te Muri beach. An easy refreshing up to the knees crossing across the TeMuri stream was welcome after a steep climb above Sullivan's bay then onto  Cudlip point.

Auckland Council thinking seems to be that  Te Muri Regional park will be a stand alone park. with its own road access and car parking.  Mahurangi residents have a bigger vision that   considers Te Muri  as part of a network of reserves including Wenderholm and Waiwera with possibilities for a long distance footpath. This would  encompass all four reserves with public transport connections to bring people in or under their own steam of walking or cycling.. 

With an increasing  imperative to acknowledge our changing climate and the need to reduce our dependency on oil the Council plan appears to be 'Same old Thinking;  once again. .The Mahurangi vision seems  more about bringing people into the park by other means  acting as a circuit beaker to the way the Regional parks have previously been managed.