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.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Auckland NZ Dotterel Forum -2018

Great to catch up with  dotterel minders and others at the Dotterel Forum held at the Art Gallery at Orewa today. This  included Council and Doc staff, Miranda shorebird Centre people including Keith, Jojo and  Adrian Riegen who today was updating us with the on going research work at Stewart Island to try and find out why the Southern NZ dotterel population is rapidly declining.

Other topics discussed were the on-going saga of dog owners not following bylaw signage to keep dogs out of sensitive wildlife areas or put their dogs on leash. Kerry outlined some interesting signage research to see what approach gets the best compliance results.

This link is for the video made last year that I was asked to supply photos for to highlight the birds of the Orewa estuary.

Then quite by chance - I'm a great believer in 'Chance', on leaving the meeting I bumped into Joel and his partner Nicolle from Highpoint who had stopped for lunch at the Orewa Estuary. Their company  specialises in abseiling to remove pest plants and was contracted by Auckland Council to help  lay out our initial bait line and I joined Joel to help with this in Shoal Bay during June 2016.

Informal workshop with Joel, Bill, Amy and myself in 2016

 Joel was interested to hear our progress and that everyone is still with the group that I co-ordinate.. I learnt heaps from Joel and wish them luck with their on-going business.

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

Heading to the Kaipara next. The plan is to ferry full water containers to the Island on the kayaks..

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Shoal Bay High Tide Roost Count April 3rd

HT 9,26 am 3.4 Metres  Warm calm day.

Combined totals for three Chenier Shell banks at (Big) Shoal Bay

Birds Recorded
Wrybill   x 38
Pied Stilt x 250
SIPOS     x 209
VOCs      x  12
NZ dotterel x 5
SBBG       x 5
White faced Heron  x 7
Banded Dotterel x 1

Monday, April 2, 2018


I had just arrived home from a meeting and talk about native eels this evening when I again heard the morepork in the direction of the Northboro Reserve. I am keen to pinpoint its location as I have some concerns that a local development that recently received the go-ahead from the Local Board to progress a land swap with the reserve will soon be removing trees in that area. I set off with head torch and was reminded of my badger & fox watching days -out at dusk with a red cellophane covered torch hoping to watch these amazing creatures.

Its a lovely moonlit night hence a high tide shorebird roost count tomorrow morning. With  star sprinkled clear skies and the moon like a searchlight above I soon reach the boardwalk and edge of the Northboro estuary inlet and the owl calls again right from in the middle of the development area.

I returned home to spend a further couple of hours listening to it before falling asleep for the night.