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...…………………...