After exploring closer to home we drove right around to the other side of the harbour, directly across from our campsite but about 15kms by road. David had seen a vehicle parked up on the beach a few times and wanted to check out what was there (we think they must have been gathering paua (NZ abalone) as there was a large area of flat rocky outcrops & pools jutting out into the sea). It was with great surprise that in amongst the usual shore waders feeding in the low tide rock pools we found a flock of eleven Royal Spoonbills very resplendent in their breeding plumage of yellow breast patch, bright yellow spots above the eyes & head plumes.
Spoonbills are quite rare in New Zealand although there are quite a few pockets of birds around the country including a large flock of about 30 birds that spend a lot of time in & near the Ahuriri Estuary in Napier. Having only seen these ones before and out of the breeding season it was great to see the changes in their plumage.
|That's the sealion beach off in the distance.|
The bird below on the left had a lot of bling on her legs; banded, & female because she was noticeably smaller.
We later saw another half a dozen or so spoonbill feeding on the mudflats further up the harbour & over the other side on our way home so is probably a good sized flock in the area. When we come back we'll have to explore more.
And back we'll definitely be coming. This time we concentrated mainly on seeking out the sealions but the area also had many birds that I would loved to have got some great shots of. As it was these were "just in passing".
|A Bellbird (Korimako)- feeding on flax flowers|
|That big fat Wood Pigeon (Kereru) again|
|We passed this family of variable oystercatchers ( Torea-pango) on the way to the sealions|
And finally, not a bird but a bug. A huhu beetle that took up residence for a short while in our outside shoe box.