Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Year End

As the year nears an end its time to reflect on how the local environment has coped with during. 2019. The year began at Christmas 2018 with the  sediment laden settlement pond water flowing into Shoal estuary from the Ngati Whatua development at Rutherford street. It took a while for the Council to respond to our warnings that this had happened. It was also extremely disappointing as we had talked to the developer about the risks and sensitive nature of the nearby estuary edge.

This took time and effort to get some resolution and answers from Auckland Council as to how and why this had been allowed to happen. Mostly their answers were not satisfactory but there was some action to get the developer to lift their game and follow the Council GD05 guidelines to the letter. That included better monitoring and maintenance of sediment management. However we are still left with the over riding issue that these Auckland guidelines seem to favour  developers rather than the environment.

Well that was the bad news but local volunteers plod on with restoration projects and predator control. It was heartening to see the planting project at Bayswater school with the help of RTH
 ( Restoring  Takarunga  to Hauraki) volunteers and schoolchildren and teachers too.

Our Shoal &Ngataringa predator control monitoring continues, now into our fourth year with a keen low key group of wonderful volunteers. They contribute  regular with time and effort  to bait pulse over four months of the year. Bait continues to be completely eaten  in many of the environmentally safe stations that are used.

I continue to regularly  monitor the birds by counting shorebirds sighted at thee locations at High tide roost sites. The Bar-tailed godwits arrived right on time during September and a Welcome to the Godwit community event was held on the shores of Shoal estuary during October. I wasn't able to attend this year as I was back in Western Australia catching up with the Australian Fairy Tern projects and family.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Coromandel Coast

Just packing the scope and camera to head to the Coromandel. One of my projects is to search for the now rare endemic Hauraki Gulf spotted shag along the coastline.
 If I find them I will try and count the percentage of juveniles  to pass onto Tim at the biodiversity team.

Heading up the coast and using the scope to check rocky islets and guano covered rocks below pohutukawa trees I eventually spot some young shags. Locating the position I manage to get closer to count them and then realise that the majority are juvenile spotted shags with just five adult birds with their distinct black throats. I am pleased to have found these.

The adult birds are quite stunning and of course I am not seeing them in full breeding plumage which would be around August,

Adult Spotted Shag

Staying the night at Tapu Reserve so that I can venture back in the morning for another look and a second count. This time I see more birds but still most of them are juveniles which I guess is encouraging. Although I am wondering where all the adult birds are.

Juvenile Spotted Shag

Spotted shags now have only three known breeding sites on and near Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf.  Bird numbers have plummeted for the North Island Hauraki Gulf birds and now there are less than 1000. There are still spotted shag populations in the South island.

I continue to search the coast and spot another group of birds on a rock. Again I GPS'd the location and photograph the birds and count them.

Adult spotted shag

Heading further North now as heavy  rain and thunderstorm warnings are forecast and a very strong Northerly.
A sheltered spot a favourite -Shelley Bay to enjoy the sunset.


Colville Bay is quite beautiful and the sun is shining and the wind has dropped. Its another day to enjoy this coastline..

Then back to Coromandel township to replenish food stocks and water before heading back South to the delightful little campsite at Tapu Creek.

 Just time for a dip in the river to refresh.

On this trip the elusive shining cuckoo's have been at every camp. It took some time to track this one down and take some photos. 

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Waiting Game.

Its a waiting game patiently watching a Fairy Tern nest and hoping to see the head of the first hatched chick today. The two eggs are due to hatch about now. All we can do is wait.

The following day I receive a txt that the first egg has hatched. now its another  waiting game for the second egg.
Photos and more to follow...………………..

Friday, October 18, 2019

WA 2019

Wadjemup Island to search for Osprey and Aus Fairy Tern in particular and any other wildlife that I may be fortunate to observe.  It's good to be back to this stunning Island. I read that it has 9 species of seagrass species in the surrounding ocean which makes this second to Shark bay further North for having this important marine plant life.

 I soon locate osprey stack nests found on previous visits to this amazing island which is an A class wildlife Reserve. I decide to visit one of my favourite nests with stunning views all around.
 I waited patiently for two hours for what I presume is the male bird who then eventually started  hunting for fish. After nearly three quarters of an hour and several unsuccessful dives this amazing bird with a 1.5 metre wingspan dived down and came up holding a large fish in one of  its amazing talons. It then returned to the stack nest and landed on the edge of the nest offering the fish to its partner and possibly chicks too. The birds then settled down out of sight to devour their meal.

After watching the Osprey I walked on to catch the  bus that travels in a clockwise route around the island and while walking was fortunate to spot a pair of white fronted Chat, a delightful small bird


Next it was time to move on and visit the NZ fur seal colony at the Cape Vlamingh end of the Island. The seals were chilling out below the observation platform. The previous day I had also visited this lookout point and had also watched an Osprey dive for fish and then take it back to the large stack nest viewable from the excellent walkway at Vlamingh head.

I then decided to follow an old trail back, the Ngank Wen Bidi trail  along the coast as the temperature was just right for walking at 18C rather than the 36C that I have experienced on previous visits. This was a walk with stunning views of small bays with a final walk along the beautiful white sand Majorie  beach to Rocky bay.

While waiting for the bus that does a circular clockwise tour of the island I heard the unmistakable sound of fairy Tern diving for fish in the bay below. It was a pair and they stayed until my bus came to return to where I was staying for a few nights.

Sunday 29th. Now back on the Swan river,  well its really an estuary, a huge expanse of water with many nature reserves along its banks. I'm at Alfred cove and soon locate four osprey resting at the tops of high posts, one with a nest. Other birds seen include a white egret,  stilts, Ibis, crested tern and many parrots in the paperbark trees along the edge.

Tuesday 22nd. Pleased to hear from Claire, the Fairy tern researcher from Murdock University and that she was able to spare some time to check out the Point Walter sandbar for Fairy tern. I had helped shovel shells at Mandurah in 2017 to help create a nesting site for these delightful birds.
We soon spotted 9 terns and more beyond the fence with other birds including one bar-tailed godwit and a little group of red-necked stints.

Late afternoon I headed to the Pelican Point  Reserve on the Swan river to meet up with Charles, Murray, Kath and the other keen birders that monitor the birdlife of this reserve on a weekly basis. It was good to see other familiar faces and join in the count. Just while waiting I spotted a variegated Fairy wren on the bonnet of the car next to me . It appeared to be after vegetation tucked in by the wiper blades. This bird was added to our count which added up to 23 species including a Common sandpiper.

Wednesday 23rd. Headed to Kwinana township South  of Perth to inquire about the pollutant nets they uses in their reserves to trap plastic and other waste. Jeremy an Engineering and technical officer kindly took some time to explain to me about these nets and directed me to the nearest location so that I could see for myself. This was most helpful and I now intend to share this information with others concerned with plastic waste entering our waterways in Auckland and ultimately into the Hauraki Gulf. Some of this plastic pollution then drifts up to the pristine beaches of Great Barrier Island .

Thursday 24th.
Point Walter 2pm. No Fairy Tern.

Friday 25th. 
Herdsman lake - Large number of Ibis by one of the road ends near the lake. Checked out the canal walkway again. Then to Claremont Lake for a quick look. All lakes have good interpretive signage and clear dog signage too.

Saturday 26th. 
Lake Mongor. Excellent interpretive signage and little shelters at the edge of the lake to watch the waterfowl. Looking for Fairy wrens along the lakeside path after a tip off by a lady walker.. Located male & female Fairy wren (variegated).

Tuesday 29th
Met with Claire, the Fairy Tern researcher at the security entrance to the causeway to Garden Island. This is an impressive set up by the defence force. After signing in and getting security clearance we were soon driving along the impressive causeway and bridge. I had originally though it would be a boat journey. Parking on the island and then complete with fluero vests. Claire led me back along the causeway showing me the prepared Fairy tern nesting site and then we went on to the sandbar to see the roost site. Fairy Tern, crested tern pied stilt, pelicans, a Caspian tern were all present. Also a delightful group of 32 sanderlings were later observed. Also a whistling kite.
At lunch time we ventured further into the island to find a shaded picnic spot Claire knew of an ideal spot surrounded by trees including some Rottnest pines. It had a sprinklered grass area complete with picnic table. It was a very good spot with great views to the city.
Later we re-visited the sandbar and I spotted a Great knot and then many more Fairy tern, we counted now counted 99 with more above probably making the 150 number that Claire had recorded on a previous visit. Then it was time for me to go. Good memories from this day which will suffice as no cameras & photography allowed as part of the security conditions of entry.
Later Claire emailed to say that she had counted 400 at the twilight night roost.

Wednesday 1st November
A very changeable weather day with squally showers and cooler temperatures but a good day for exploring inland to the Bungendore Park near the Wungong valley accessed from Admiral road of the Albany Highway. Jarra and Marri woodland with parrot bush and the large cycad. Two windy for birds to be settled but I did see some red-capped parrots and two Brush wallabies in between dodging quite heavy showers. Interesting to see the amazing flowers on Wilson Grevillea. This is a place to return too

photos and more to follow...……………..

Friday, September 27, 2019

Climate Strike -Auckland

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Putuone Walkway upgrade-Tree destruction

We have now found out that the Takapuna end of the Patuone walkway upgrade will require that between 12 - 20 karaka trees will have to be destroyed. This makes no sense at all. Local volunteers have been monitoring a pest control line for some years here to support the NWWLink.

In the book 'Auckland's Remarkable Urban Forest' by Mike Wilcox this is described as a little rock forest with karaka, kohekohe and swamp maire. There is also a kahikatea tree that is between 100-200 years old. Kereru, tui, fantail are seen here and kaka have also been recorded.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Patuone Reserve Walkway

This afternoon Trish and I presented at the Devonport and Takapuna Local Board Forum on behalf of BEAC ( Bayswater Environment Action Coalition) & Forest & Bird with the local residents of Byron Street.

This was to raise some concerns surrounding the upgrading and enlargement of the walkway to become a shared walkway with cyclists. The solution proposed by Auckland Council and to be part funded by the Local Board was to construct a boardwalk/bridge across part of this Upper Shoal estuary to cut a corner at the point shown in the photograph below..

Our No1 concern is that the scale of this 2.5 path could easily become  a transport link from Takapuna to the Harbour Bridge through this now quiet and valuable wildlife rich reserve..

There seemed to be no understanding that this area is designated as an SSWI ( Site of Significant Wildlife Interest)  with Ecological overlays on the Unitary plan.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Three Eastern Curlew & a Working Bee!

I am half way through an excellent book about the Eastern Curlew by an Australian writer Harry Saddler. This delightful book has kindly been loaned to me by Claire Stevens.

 Today I am at Miranda helping with a working bee around the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre, I'm into the weeding to help the planted coastal saltmarsh ribbonwood to be able to thrive. Fortunately there was time just before high tide to slip away to the bird hides nearby at the Findlay Reserve.

 Thousands of the endemic ( found only in New Zealand) wrybill delight while they frantically feed from the mud in a rhythmic motion scraping their right turned beaks across the surface biofilm. They are sifting the nutriments that they require for their late August  migration back to the braided rivers of the South Island to breed..

High percentage of total wrybill World population visit Miranda 

Wrybill-a unique bird with a bent to the right beak.

Juvenile godwits are also seen, birds that have not made the epic flight to Alaska this season. There are however three much larger uncommon migrant wader birds to be seen and these are the rare and now endangered  Eastern Curlew feeding on  the mudflats straight out in front of the Godwit hide.

Eastern curlew towers over four wrybill.

Three in a Row -Far Eastern Curlew.

Bar-tailed godwit with larger Eastern Curlew behind

This  amazing day finished with an excellent Potluck dinner at the centre followed by two films one still at the editing stage  about the extraordinary and exciting PGP ( Pacific Golden Plover Project) which has been co-ordinated by Jim Eagles at the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre..

Friday, August 9, 2019

Here we go again!

Once again the GD05 Auckland  Council guidelines for sediment management on development sites are woefully inadequate to cope with the amount of rainfall we  experience these days.

Below the development Stage 1 at Rutherford Street the area is covered in sediment laden water again as on Christmas day flowing via the swale into Shoal Bay estuary.

Down stream of this spill is the area that Godwit choose to roost and feed when they return form Alaska in September. Other birds that feed here ar wrybill, South Island pied oystercatcher, Variable oystercatcher and several other species. Sediment laden silt build up is not good for these birds.

Below the Hillary Crescent development the decant sediment pond has also overflowed pouting water across the Northboro Reserve pathway.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Shoal Bay - August Bait Pulse.

Back to check  bait stations. Nearly  all lines are being cleared of bait. There seems to have been an increase in rat activity probably due to such a warm summer period including July.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Northland -Winterless North

Forecast high winds and heavy rain have not been an issue so far and staying in historic  Kororareka is comfortable especially if sheltered from the strong Westerly winds.Wonderful Weka birds here. Enjoyable walks along Long beach which allows sightings of gannets, little shag, pied shag and a 2 metre dead shark washed up on the beach.

Then its back over the Opua vehicle ferry.

A visit to the fascinating town of Kawakawa with its historic railway undergoing restoration with rails through the main street. Watching  unsuspecting motorists competing with a diesel engine towing coaches down the main street is quite a novel site. Also  the famous Hundertwasser toilet block with the new build art centre behind is another unique attraction of this less than affluent town. Its a great place for a visit and I always enjoy coming back.

Back down the coast and a return visit to Ruakaka to watch birds in the estuary and dodge squally rain clouds that fortunately pass quickly heading out to sea.

Photos & more to follow...……………..