Friday, December 31, 2021

Old Year Out

 The clock is ticking to the beginning of a 2022. There are many reasons to put 2021 behind us but then for many of us its not been so bad when you consider the turmoil that exists in so many places on our shared planet Earth.

So I'm for thanking all the people who have made it an enjoyable experience and for the opportunities I have had to enjoy their company and engage with good conversations and a shared enjoyment of Nature. Sadly one of those people is Jim Eagles who sadly passed away very recently. I will miss Jim and  our  regular catch-ups when counting the shorebirds at Shoal and Ngataringa estuaries for  wader bird counts. And on other occasions at Miranda and on Cheltenham beach. Our condolences go out to Chris and their family. 

Other sadness at this time of the  year is remembering my sister Susanne who passed at Christmas time last year. My thoughts are with her family too.

So lets all enjoy what we have and the friends we value and share a toast to another year ahead.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Mahurangi Vision

The tide was perfect today to allow me to cross from the Mahurangi Regional park to Te Muri beach. An easy refreshing up to the knees crossing across the TeMuri stream was welcome after a steep climb above Sullivan's bay then onto  Cudlip point.

Auckland Council thinking seems to be that  Te Muri Regional park will be a stand alone park. with its own road access and car parking.  Mahurangi residents have a bigger vision that   considers Te Muri  as part of a network of reserves including Wenderholm and Waiwera with possibilities for a long distance footpath. This would  encompass all four reserves with public transport connections to bring people in or under their own steam of walking or cycling.. 

With an increasing  imperative to acknowledge our changing climate and the need to reduce our dependency on oil the Council plan appears to be 'Same old Thinking;  once again. .The Mahurangi vision seems  more about bringing people into the park by other means  acting as a circuit beaker to the way the Regional parks have previously been managed.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Mahurangi Peninsular

Still exploring  within the Auckland Lockdown boundary.

 More to follow...........

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Point Wells

Its that time of the year again. Its Christmas Party time and today Bot Soc (Auckland Botanical Society) are gathering at Point Wells for a get together..

It was great to be able to catch up with people after a long period of Lockdown restrictions. After a gentle hour or so walking around the saltmarsh edge of the estuary it was time for a splendid lunch together in the village hall with a great outdoor area to keep up our social distancing.

Later I took the opportunity to visit the shorebird /wildlife sanctuary behind the predator fence at Omaha. I soon came across at least five pairs of Variable Oystercatchers who reminded me not to come too close to their fenced off nesting sites. With NZ dotterel pairs also nearby.

Then on to meet up  with a good friend and enjoy dinner out together at our favorite Indian restaurant. Some fluffing around trying to find my vaccine certificate on my phone that seemed to have disappeared but eventually with the help of the lovely Indian lady we were able to settle down and enjoy our catch-up meal.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021


 Not one but two. Now that's unusual to see two stoats on the same day close by. We have been in Lockdown for many weeks now and the borders have been closed but we have had the freedom to explore Auckland and I never miss an opportunity to re-visit favourite reserves. One of these is on the Mahurangi peninsular. Its a great escape from the city I visit weekly. and sometimes when possible stay overnight in one of the three beautiful campgrounds.

A couple of weeks ago I had headed for one of my favorite walks up the hill to the lookout and then down to Te Muri bay . I crossed the river as the tide was good to  explore  behind the top  of the beach. keeping a lookout for any NZ dotterel nesting activity. At once I disturbed  a stoat.  It bounded away with an undulating movement. At first thinking it was a rabbit the black tail was the real giveaway. 

Heading along the back path above the beach about 10 minutes later I was aware of movement in front of me and yes there was stoat 2. It just stopped in its tracks s I did and we just stared at each other for a few minutes  I usually carry a camera but on this occasion I had left it in my bag as I crossed the river so I missed the opportunity to get a photo. Yesterday I returned this time camera in hand but all was quiet. I had passed on my sightings to the Ranger the previous week who had explained that due to Covid 19 restrictions  his volunteers had not been able to enter the park s so the string of stoat traps had not been baited for a while. Yesterday they were full of rabbit meat so maybe the stoats were wary at having a too easy  a tasty  meal served up for them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Lockdown 4 to lockdown 3

Its the first day of lockdown 3 after five weeks of lockdown 4 following New Zealand's first community Delta Covid outbreak.. Its still fairly quiet out and about and with an 8.10am high tide I'm out to check the numbers of our newly arrived local estuary godwit. 

They began arriving on the 13th September and now the flock is building in size. The birds look in remarkably good condition following an amazing 11.5 thousand kilometre flight from Alaska. Last season 4BBRW set an amazing record of nearly 12,000 km in 9.5days.

Today these birds are fairly settled on this sand/shell bank after feeding out on the mudflats at low tide. The only disturbance was caused when a pair of  variable oystercatchers decided to take of and head for their more favoured shell bank and the godwits seemed for a moment to instinctively take off with them before returning and settling back down. Nearby a smaller group of south Island pied oystercatchers stayed settled saving their energy 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Return to the Waitakere Ranges.

 It seems a long time since I have walked in the Waitakeres. This is partly due to Covid 19 Lockdowns earlier this year and  last year  but also because many of the tracks  in the ranges were closed to help slow the spread of  Kauri die back disease. However today it is good to be back with the people from Bot Soc the Auckland Botanical Society.

Our walk today was along the Cutty Grass track at a true Bot Soc  snails pace while examining every species of plant life around to add to the records for this track.

Toro fruiting

More to follow........

Monday, June 7, 2021

The Eels are back!

 Good to meet Josh and Kath today at the Northboro pond on a very wet morning.. They had both recently seen eels in the pond and Kath pointed out an eel while we were chatting. 

When the pond became badly  polluted and the ducks began to die the large eels some a metre long disappeared. Eels can be very sensitive to pollution and we presume that they left to survive.

I'm pleased to see that they have returned but this pond over the last few years has increasingly suffered from sediment incursions from local infill developments

Photo taken the following day 8. June 2021

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Eastern Bay of Plenty

We leave Auckland and head to the Miranda Coast stopping for a while before a quick visit to Thames then on to  Waihi to spend the night. At Katikati we visit the Bird gardens which were just beautiful in autumn colours. Butterflies too 

 Plenty to see along this wonderful coastline. Following Matata DOC campsite we are now heading to Whakatane.

Heading down Ohope beach this afternoon its great to see large areas taped off with good signage about the rare birds NZ dotterel and Variable oystercatcher that nest along this coastline. Dotterel and variable oystercatchers were present in pairs ready for the new breeding season.

 Its also good to see that the NZ Coastal Policy Statement is quoted in respect to controlling vehicles on beaches 'where damage to people, wildlife and other aspects of the wildlife might result'

Tomorrow we will follow the coastal road and explore the Opotiki side off the harbour staying at Ohiwa.

Looking forward to a good sunset this evening. Not only were we rewarded with great sunset but the  following morning a stunning sunrise too with clear blue skies that have lasted all day. 

The estuary is extensive with views to Whakari ( White Island) and Motuhora Island (Whale Island ) was one of the first Islands to become pest free in NZ. Its now a designated as a Wildlife sanctuary. Interesting to see several flocks of  oystercatchers flying in formation across the water to feeding sites. One of these flocks had 25 birds.

Ohiwa spit is a pretty little settlement to stay the night and I took the opportunity to climb the Ohiwa bush loop track to the Onekawa pa site which had stunning views all around. Now its time for a beach walk and then  watch the sun go down.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Sullivans Bay

 An interesting visit to this beautiful area with walks  to Te Muri and Mitre Bay. Interesting to meet two young people flying a drone and after I had counted  54 Variable oystercatchers, 24 South Island pied oystercatchers and two NZ dotterels resting ( roosting) at high tide just a couple of hours earlier. on the beach. That's a very good number of  Variable oystercatchers.

 I was keen to chat with the pilots of the drone and ask them if they understood that the Regional parks are no fly zones. They quickly brought back the zone from a great height and that was the end of that. The Rangers do an extraordinary job keeping these reserves in such good order but I guess the behaviour of visitors is always unpredictable.

The following day it was great to meet with and chat to Cimino and I thank him for the link to the Mahurangi News magazine just passed on.  Cimino is the editor of this magazine which is full of very interesting articles. I will settle down with a coffee to read this after my high tide shorebird count at  Shoal estuary his morning.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Kaipara return

More to follow.............. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Miranda Shorebird Centre - The Birds & the Bees..

An interesting talk by Osana about Birds & Bee keeping as part of a gathering at the Miranda shorebird centre to Farewell the  birds as they head of on their migrations to the Northern hemisphere in the case of the godwit and to the South Island for the wrybill.

More to follow.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Rainbow Warrior Matauri Bay

 It has been quite a time since I climbed the hill at the campsite end of Matauri bay to visit the memorial to the sinking of the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior. The ship was blown up and deliberately sunk on orders of the French Government  on July10th 1985.

 This event was in direct  retaliation for the protest and anti nuclear stance that Greenpeace and New Zealand  had taken against the testing of nuclear devices in the Pacific by the French Government. 

A great find down a short gravel road the beautiful little Mahinepua bay complete with walkway out on the peninsular.

Tauranga Bay with white fronted terns diving for fish.

More to follow.....

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Back on Track !

 With the Auckland Covid 19 Lockdown 3 restrictions lifted travel plans are back on track

Motutara Reserve

The views from the top just stunning and worth the hill climb.

Variable Oystercatcher family

 8 week + oystercatcher chick

Oystercatcher chicks learning to search for food.

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

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Te Muri -Are dotterel protected?

This informative sign seems to show the opposite.  That although dotterels are a  protected species  by law they are far from being adequately protected at their nesting sites. 

The message on the board is a common theme each year. Can we do better?? 

Staying for a few nights at Mahurangi West. There are some great walks around the coast and over the hills to Mitre bay and Te Muri bay.

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

Friday, January 15, 2021

Kohuroa walkway

 A delightful place to stay. The Kohuroa walkway is always worth spending some time enjoying the waterfalls and kauri trees. It  now has   newly constructed kauri boot cleaning stations at either end. 

Around the rocks with their interesting rock pools from the main beach is a rocky bay and I spent some hours watching a dotterel family. Two adults and two  well developed young birds fledged but still watched over by attentive parent birds.

This seasons fledged young

Adult dotterel with worn feathers watches over two fledged young birds.

Adult bird keeps an eye out for aerial predators 

Fledged young bird with adult behind

Photos to follow.

Friday, January 1, 2021