Monday, 25 March 2013

Leucistic Oystercatcher

We went for a drive today to see some of the stunning coastline in this area & in a small bay that shall remain nameless we stumbled across quite a number of birds resting on the shell banks up at the high tide mark, they were a lot closer than the birds at Miranda which made it a great opportunity to bird watch for awhile.
It was a surprise to spot in amongst the oystercatchers a rare pure white bird. There are two species of oystercatchers in NZ; the Variable Oystercatcher which is a slighly smaller all black bird & the South Island Pied Oystercatcher which is a larger black & white bird & they both hang out together.
This white bird looks like a leucistic variable oystercatcher going by its size (leucism is a condition characterized by reduced pigmentation in animals, it is not albino as they don't have pink eyes)   . And also the possibility that it could be the very same white bird, nicknamed Blanche, that had been seen around the Kawakawa Bay area a few years ago, Kawakawa Bay is across the Firth of Thames, not very far as the crow flies or in this case the oystercatcher. Blanche hasn't been spotted there for a couple of seasons so it looks like I have re-discovered her! What a thrill. 

Along with the oystercatchers there was a healthy population of the endangered New Zealand Dotterels resting in the warm sand & not very keen to move either which allowed me to crawl very close.

NZ Dotterel

And behind the dotterels also resting in the sand were a small number of Godwits, these looked like juvenile non breeding Godwits that won't be flying all those thousands of kilometers to Siberia. They'll be wintering over here in NZ.

It's amazing what you see in a small group of birds when you spend the time to scan them & allow them to resettle. This poor soul has not only the wrong colourings but has deformed feet although he could have lost them to a clam.

More photos here of  Coromandel & Miranda Shorebirds


  1. Beautiful bird photos - and that all white bird must certainly stand out in the flock.

    1. Thanks for your comments Jenny & Robin, glad you like the bird photos. Funnily enough she was pretty hard to spot to begin with as there were so many all black & black & white oystercatchers she just looked part of the pack. Up close of course she certainly stood out.


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