Monday, December 31, 2018

New Years Eve on the sand dunes

A catch up with a Fairy Tern chick. A very worrying time as black backed and redbill gulls raid nearby NZ dotterel nests eating their eggs. We also watched a gull return to an already wrecked nest earlier in the day and devour the remaining shell left nearby on the sand while chased by the parent dotterel still guarding their nest

...……………… more to follow.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve and its hissing down.

Its going to be a wet day on the East coast watching over a Fairy Tern chick...……. And it certainly was. Sitting rather uncomfortably under a beach umbrella in the persistent wind driven rain we watched over the nest and each feed of the Fairy Tern chick by the adult birds was recorded.

The rain never let up and then it was a wet walk crossing a stream inlet to the river  and there we were able to watch four rare Pateke ( brown Teal) ducks swimming downstream.

Back at the tent we were able to start cooking a  Christmas eve meal which was very welcome. Such a contrast to the previous week when it had been a day of sunshine.

Monday, December 17, 2018


Its a hot day shared with Fairy Tern, Caspian tern and many other birds.

And today the birds are very territorial due to nests with eggs and and young chicks however this Caspian pair have a rather large juvenile under their wing but are still fiercely defensive and protective .

More to follow...……………..

Monday, December 10, 2018


First couple of nights at Whananaki DOC site above the beach. Located a dotterel nest with three eggs and Vincent contracted to DOC to manage the campsite helped me tape fence the nest area to stop cars coming over the dunes from crushing the eggs. A variable oystercatcher struggles to protect her single chicks from dogs. High tide roost of fifty variable oystercatchers on edge of Whananaki estuary.
Had to take a look at the bridge across to Whananaki South. Its the longest in the Southern hemisphere.

Whangaruru Harbour -South
Then onto Oakura on the Whangaruru harbour. Gannets feeding and white fronted tern on the rocks next to red-billed gull colony.A  neat campsite overlooking the water and looking across to the Whangaruru peninsular and Puriri DOC campsite our next destination.

 Whangaruru Harbour -North
Puriri is an excellent DOC Reserve campsite which is at this time of the year not busy and just a delightful place to enjoy walks swims and the tame wildlife. A Variable oystercatcher  pair have two chicks a few weeks old and parade these up and down the beach and when concerned the chicks are ushered by the parents to hide under the roots of old the old puriri trees. The male adult is not that old showing brown plumage and he is incredible tame and will take food from campers hands. He flies back and forward after pecking fleshy scraps from oystercatcher shells on the rocks and flies in to deliver food to the chicks.
Another day spent at Puriri bay earning refreshing swim after  walks in the hills high above the bay and spending time watching wild bees and solitary gannets dive for fish.

Moving on we arrive in Russell, Its a long time since I have visited this busy little town. We enjoyed a meal at the water front then escaped to the hillside camp to enjoy the sunset from the van.

Aroha Island
Crossed the causeway and settled in to explore this ecosanctuary. Enjoyed the bush walks circumnavigating the island. In the evening after watching a spectacular sunset we headed out kiwi watching with our head torches covered in red cellophane. No luck, too many people noisily doing the same.

Uretiti DoC campsite

Monday, November 26, 2018

Storm and a dead dolphin

Heavy rain is forecast but the sun was shining early on and this lulled us into not quite watching the approaching weather carefully enough. Suddenly there was a huge torrential downfall shortly followed by a load crack of thunder directly above.

 Sitting under a small sun umbrella with a metal scope, metal tripod, metal binoculars and camera watching the birds suddenly felt quite vulnerable. We decided to make a run for it  to the shelter of a very large macrocarpa tree not too far away.. I then imagined that tomorrows news would relate the story of two people crushed by a very large macrocarpa tree

Later DOC phoned to say they were coming to help bury a dolphin that had been washed up about a kilometre up the beach and so we headed there and later the others joined us after  we had by then dug a reasonable sized pit in the sand above the high tide mark. DNA samples were taken and measurements were made.  A Karakia, a  Maori prayer, was conducted before we buried this unfortunate Common Dolphin

 More to follow...……………..

Monday, November 19, 2018

Game on

Its been a tense time waiting to see if the male Fairy Tern would attract a female but its happened and today the male was frantically fishing and feeding her with fish with the occasional copulation as the reward.

More to follow...………………….

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tutukaka Coast revisited

Just back from a week exploring the Tutukaka coastline.  Its a favourite of mine and some time back was voted the second best coastline by the Geographic magazine,

Whale bay

Matapouri bay

Woolleys Bay

Whangaumu Bay

Ruakaka Beach

Photos and more to follow...………………...

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Protecting Nests

After stopping two groups of people from trampling this dotterel nest with two eggs I realised that it did not stand much of a chance in this location.

 Fortunately I had posts and tape in the car so decided to put a fence around the nest site. Soon the adult bird return to the nest initially pecking at one of the posts but then settling down on the nest.

Reading the new experimental hand written signage at this Wildlife Reserve I was dismayed to read and hear later from Bob and Jenny who care for this site that 9 eggs were taken over the Labour day weekend from this site and  dog prints had been seen in the area too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Godwits take off and a Pied Shag too

As the tide increases to 3.2metres in Shoal Bay the 200 godwit become more agitated as space becomes limited on their shellbank roost site and so they are forced to find more space at another site. 

The godwit flock on the move

Heading to the next bay to find roost space from an incoming tide.

Pied stilt during take off.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Waiting to be fed

This welcome Swallow chick was just waiting so patiently to be fed and hey presto-mum or dad to the rescue. The birds love to hunt for insects above this pipe over a wetland water feature.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Welcome the Birds.- Miranda

A fine day at Miranda to welcome nearly 5000 bar-tailed godwits so far this season. Good to catch up with some familiar faces and also to meet  new people.

At the Wrybill hide an American couple from Eugene, Oregon state  explained the Court case  Juliane v. US Climate Lawsuit, in their home town that is for young people  challenging the US Government  regarding lack of action on dealing with the serious effects of Climate change that will deny Youth a future..It appears that the US Government were joined by the  Oil Industry to try and close this trial down.

 Juvenile Godwit (spotty looking) right hand side bird

Back to the birds at Miranda and today there are nearly five thousand Godwit that along with Knots have recently arrived to feed up during our Summer.

Then followed a talk by John Tregidga about the sad state of the Hauraki Gulf. John is the Mayor of Hauraki District and is involved with the Hauraki Gulf Forum and Spatial plan.
 Like so many environmental, issues fine reports are written but no action is mandated to follow.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Royal Visit To Shoal Bay this morning.

Counting the birds, including the Godwit at  high tide this morning I was able to photograph this Royal Spoonbill flying over Shoal Bay estuary. Another 'At Risk' classified bird.

Royal Spoonbill
Royal Spoonbill with bar-tailed godwit and a pair of variable oystercatchers waiting for low tide to feed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


What a beautiful day …  Photos and more to follow...…………..

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Welcome To the Godwits.- Giving the Birds a Voice!

A great fun event today at Ngataringa Bay to welcome the arrival of the bar-tailed godwits to Shoal and Ngataringa Bays for our Summer.Great to see so many people and children too.

This event was organised by the local community, a coalition of various groups concerned about the threats to the Bayswater Environment from large scale developments plans for around this DOC designated,  Site of Significant Wildlife  Interest  (SSWI).

Development plans risk sedimentation into the estuary as has happened at the Okura estuary North of Shoal and Ngataringa estuaries. .
Following the Mihi by Danny Watson. The Devonport Druid continues the Godwit story.
The aim of the event was to welcome the bar-tailed godwit that began arriving from Alaska on September the 12th after their 11.500 kilometre flight and to highlight this local fragile environment and the risks to roosting (resting) birds using the Chenier shell banks.

Danny Watson, Philip and the Devonport Druid.

 This particular shell bank was missed off the Auckland Unitary Plan overlays and we have asked Auckland Council for its addition with an  SEA Marine 1 status.

 Today there are 219 godwit roosting (resting) on the shell bank at high tide. These numbers should increase  to nearly 300.

 A big thankyou to the organisers and helpers. A special thanks to Iain, Danny L and Steve for the heavy lifting to the site and thinking things through. Trish for supervising the young fledglings.  Thanks to Helene and the Forest & Bird Team. A grateful thanks to Oonah Caldwell for letting us use her section. A Huge thankyou to Danny Watson and the Druid.

A really important thankyou to Anna Baine, our very supportive Council Ranger for supplying the food courtesy of Auckland Council. And finally a special thankyou to all those members of the community that supported this event, not forgetting the Flagstaff for advanced successful advertising  and support.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

WA 2018 - Fairy Tern observations, an orchid search at kojonup and evening surveys at Pelican Point Reserve.

They say timing is everything. Well I have just arrived back in Perth, WA on Sunday  and have been invited to the Pelican Point Springtime  dinner at the Allegro Pizza following an evening counting birds at Pelican Point Reserve- Perfect Timing.

Tuesday 25th.
Fremantle in the morning.

Street Art Fremantle

Then to Pelican point Nature Reserve on the Swan River to meet up for the weekly bird count. 26 species in all including a yellow spoonbill, Little egret and crake. Finishing the evening off with an enjoyable meal at the Allegro pizza restaurant on the Stirling Highway. Its good to meet up again with Murray, Kath, Charles, John, Barbara, Jean, Jim and Sue.

  More to follow....

Wednesday 26th
Wireless Hill to check out the state of the wildflowers and search for orchids and soon rewarded with several species.

Point Walter in the afternoon to search for Fairy Tern. I'm rather too early in the season but it appears that Council staff have been out to the spit to put up the taped fence and signage across the nesting area.
I find a pair of Pied Oystercatchers below the cliffs behaving as if on nesting territory. Little balck shags flying around.

Thursday 27th September.

Point Walter in the afternoon.

Red -capped plover today feeding along the sandbank edge.

Tuesday 2nd October

Rous Head - Nankeen Night Heron watching fishermen from the rocks of the causeway.

Wednesday 3rd October.
Rous Head

Thursday 4th October

Kings park Orchids including Spider and Cowslip orchids.

Friday 5th October

Kojonup -stopping at Williams on the way down and there by the river  male and female splendid Fairy wrens and a yellow rumped thornbill.   In the afternoon a quick visit to the Myrtle Benn Reserve to find spider orchids and wispy spider orchids as well as cowslip orchids. photos to follow.........

Saturday 6th October.
Farrar dam reserve to search for dragon and mantis orchids near the railway dam. I found mantis orchids and on our way to the dam at the fork of the rack a wide verity of including purple enamel, pink enamel, Cowslip, spider, and plenty of wild flowers . photos to follow...........

I walked along the dam wall and spotted four red fronted birds couldn't get a photo as they were too fast. Probably red breasted chats.

Great to be staying at the beautiful and interesting historic Clover House with Kerrie busy in her beautiful garden preparing for an 'Open Day'

Back to the Myrtle Ben Reserve in the afternoon for a closer look at the trees and orchids of this habitat. photos to follow.................

Sunday 7th
Left Kojonup and headed North but turned West to travel through Collie to Bunbury and then the coastal road to Mandurah to check out the Fairy Tern sanctuary site. Hoping to catch-up with Claire the researcher on another day to hear how things are going with the sanctuary monitoring project. Claire has been playing FT recordings and deploying the decoys early in the morning to attract the birds to inhabit this potential nesting site as the birds historic site nearby is now a building site.

Monday 8th October

Perth Zoo.

Tuesday 9th October
Rous Head
Interesting watching an Australian Darter struggle with a giant fish which it eventually managed to swallow but only after leaving the water and bashing the fish on the rocks before flipping it around and swallowing it whole.

Then late afternoon headed to the Pelican  reserve to meet up with the monitoring team. An impending storm with huge black clouds meant that we moved around the Reserve quickly with less than the normal number  of species recorded due partly to the difficult light level.  An estimated large group of Little black shags were on the beach.

Wednesday 10th October 
An early 5am start to drive to Mandurah to meet up with Claire and her team to see her decoy and vocalisation project study between  6.15am and 8.15am at the new (2017) Fairy tern colony nesting site.
The moment I arrived and stepped out of the car I could hear Fairy Tern and see them flying above the site. Occasionally  a  group of up to 10 would settle on the open area away from the decoys that had been deliberately placed at not the potentially premium  nesting area of the site. The birds seemed keen to show and defend this territory from a Raven that decided to settle on the ground nearby but was soon removed after enduring swooping action by the FT

Thursday 11th October.
an excellent visit to Penguin Island one of the Shoal Island group. So many Bridle terns with crested terns on the beach. Little (blue) penguins hiding in rock tunnels and lizards venturing out from their hiding places to bask in the sun. Weather ideal a good temperature for walking around the island with a steady breeze. Few people as mid-week and this added to making it a great day.

Crested Tern with fish

Friday  12th October.
Point Walter at 11.45am and immediately heard Fairy Tern very high above and very vocal. Walking towards the sanctuary at the far end I watched several FT hovering then diving for fish. The tide was across the sandspit and a number of birds were roosting at the far end including at least 15 Fairy tern along the water edge with a similar number of crested terns and four red-capped plover (two pairs) and two shags. Other fairy tern flew by me so I would estimate that maybe 20 birds were around.

Follow Up.
Claire has passed on that today Friday 12th October  at the Mandurah site the birds only settled for a very short time as no sound  was used today as part of the study to entice the birds  in compared with the other day when the sound recording was played and the birds were attracted and  spent 75mins on the ground.
Claire also shared some excellent photos that showed nests with eggs, and some images of chicks and juveniles too. The shell around the nests was perfect camouflage for the chicks.

Saturday 13th October
Fremantle in the morning then to Manning lake in the afternoon. Manning lake is one of the lakes in
the Beeliar regional park which is one of a series  of numerous wet-lands set aside by the DPaW (Parks & Wildlife).
Its a small lake entirely surrounded by paperbark trees. As I approached the lake I heard and saw a large number of white Little Corella roosting noisily in a paperbark tree. Then walked around the lake and spotted ibis, ducks, Galah and a few birds I have yet to identify.

Sunday 14th October  10.30 am.
Alfred Cove wetland reserve just beyond Point Walter. Watched 12 pelicans, 44 black swans, pacific ducks and 12 pied stilt ( black winged stilt). Then three Fairy tern diving for fish for ten mins before heading back in the Point Walter direction. Very gusty with intermittent rain.

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

More to follow