Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Rays Rest

....is a very popular freedom camping spot on the Seabird Coast at Miranda.


Dawn at Rays Rest
Miranda is on the lower western side of the Firth of Thames and a very important place for migratory wading birds, in particular the Bar Tailed Godwit & Red Knot. They are attracted to the food found in the 8500 hectares of tidal mudflats.

There are also extensive shell banks along the coast that provide safe roosting spots at high tide & make it ideal for bird watching, which is why we have been here for the last two days. The shell banks or cheniers have formed over the past 4500 years and are a rare geological site themselves. Miranda is regarded as the finest example in the world of an active shell chenier plain. The shell ridges have been built off shore and each ridge has gradually been pushed  landward by tide & storm. Eventually the ridge is raised above the tide.

(To see the birds better click on the photos to enlarge them)

A new chenier is formed across the mudflats
In March tens of thousands of godwits gather on the mudflats to feed and prepare to migrate to their breeding grounds in Siberia & Alaska. The birds will fly over 12,000kms with just one refuelling stop in Asia to reach their breeding grounds in the arctic tundra. An amazing feat & the furthest flight of any migrating seabird. Come October they will be ready to do the return flight this time direct covering the distance in around 3 weeks.


Oystercatchers gather on the shell bank while godwits & rednots wait for the tide to rise before moving.
Along with the migrating birds over 43 other wader species have been recorded at Miranda with many wintering over including Wrybill, NZ Dotterel, Sandpiper, Pied Stilt, Oystercatcher. 



Godwits(the larger bird) & Redknots; ruddy colour breasts in both birds are their breeding plummage
High tide was just before sunset so the colours & light were amazing and the view through our spotting scope spectacular, sadly I don't own a $20,000 lens(like some of the fellow birders in the hide) that would have got me some awesome closeups!

Over on the salt ponds behind us Pied Stilts & Wrybills settled, Wrybills are endemic to NZ and unique in that it is the only species of bird in the world with a beak that is bent sideways (always to the right). There are only a few thousand wrybills left in NZ and over 40% of the population winter over at Miranda after breeding on the braided rivers of the South Island.


Pied Stilts(background) & Wrybills
 
If you would like to see more bird photos, here is the link to my Miranda Shorebird Flickr set.
 
Arriving home as the sky turned a beautiful crimson our van looks a little lonely without the ute.
 

More photos are here for Rays Rest

Another great day 'Out There'

2 comments:

  1. Wow! So that's where all the birds are! Miranda will definitely be on our visiting list. Trish.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Trish, yes it's an amazing bird watching site & you get to stay free for 2 nights at Rays Rest although we've now moved onto the Miranda Top 10 Park to do our chores & have a lovely hot swim in their thermal pool.

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