Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Puhoi River Kingfisher

I watched this kingfisher for sometime as it skillfully hunted for crabs from this boat jetty at low tide on the Puhoi river.
 When it flew back to its perch with its catch it would furiously smash the crabs on the hard surface of the rails to stun them before it was satisfied that it could swallow it whole. It appeared today that the kingfishers  preferred being on the shady side of posts or rails.
At times it became quite feisty as other birds approached.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Awaruku Reserve

Rain rain rain. Shouldn't complain. Its the first rain since Christmas and I seem to remember that the last time I joined Margi and  Discovery walks for a walk around this reserve, a year or so back, it was raining then too. There is a real advantage to visiting this reserve after heavy rain as it has a couple of small waterfalls in the small disused quarry that bring the surrounding bush to life. Today although the stream near the entrance was gushing I suspect that interference with piping water for subdivisions and housing in the area have reduced the waterfalls to only perform after sustained heavy rain and when the water table has risen sufficiently in the area during the winter.
We had a small group of keen walkers who by the end of the walk were all thoroughly soaked but I think all enjoyed what I believe is the best time to see the bush at its best, after or during rain.

This was part of Margi's series of 'big trees on the Shore walks' co-ordinated with the Kaipatiki Project, the highlight being the huge Kahikatea thought to be over 700 years old. Another gem for me was seeing houhera (lacebark) in flower.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mangawhai NZ Dotterel count.

My thanks to Gwenda for a great day at the Mangawhai wildlife reserve taking part in  a post breeding NZ dotterel count.  High tide was at 11.36am. The birds show less movement in the hour following high tide.

 We worked in three groups and I was in the purple team that had the scenic walk through the dunes to the southern limit of the reserve. This included some great dune-scapes which Gwen thought I would enjoy. They were quite amazing and I hadnt realised quite the scale of this sandspit.We then arrived at the beach where we found a dead Bullers Sheerwater that had possibly been driven in by a storm. It was time to continue and head North to cross back into the dunes to eventually arrive at the Northern end of the lagoon. We saw  the NZ Fairy tern nesting site on this route.

We also counted banded dotterel and watched flocks of godwit all dressed up in their beautiful plumage soon to fly North to Alaska to mate.. Other birds seen included VOC's, SIPO's, Turnstone and  Caspian terns.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ambury Regional Park

Although I arrived later than planned I was still rewarded by many godwit,wrybill and pied oystercatchers on the little island just below the reserve. There were also quite a few spoonbills too. It was quite fascinating to watch Caspian terns fishing and one bird in particular took a good 20 minutes to actually swallow a huge fish it had caught. Since the decommissioning of the freshwater filtration ponds at Mangere the birds have gradually returned to this area of estuary. The godwit are preparing for their Autumn migration to Alaska and are feeding up in preparation for an incredibly  long journey.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Miranda Autumn Migrants

It's that time of the year again when the godwits are looking good and ready for their long flight to Alaska. An interesting talk at the Shore Bird Centre by Jimmy Choi about his godwit studies at Yalu Jiang and  their migration routes and the difficulties of managing this major stop off route in China was held before high tide at mid-day. Then everyone headed to the hides to watch the many wrybill, godwits and knots that were feeding. The tide was rather a high one so we had to wait a while until more mud was available for the birds. A huge number of wrybill were content on the dry mud at the edge of the stilt ponds where a lone Shore plover fended them away from a small area of territory chosen at the waters edge. The other solitary bird was the rather rare black stilt of which there was only one visible apparently there are only 100 left.


Held at the Auckland Museum at the weekend this was a Natural History event with many displays and interesting talks on a range of different subjects. There were lizards and spiders and stick insects to look at and some to handle and other tables with interesting seaweeds and displays about our natural environment. Mike Wilcox from the Botanical Society is helping this child prepare her seaweed card.