Monday 16 December 2013

Spoonbills & other birds

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 eye spots are a little bit creepy, they are iridescent yellow & give the impression that they're looking at you all the time. Which I guess they are if you could see their black eyes underneath.

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

This Welcome Swallow had a nest under the foot bridge below our camp site, it & it's mate flew out distressed every time somebody walked over or near the bridge. On one occasion we watched as a stoat ran across the bridge then down onto the rocks and along the edge of the stream. The swallows flew along dive bombing it all the way. We knew there were stoats in the area as the day we arrived a stoat was caught in a cage trap at the end of the garden just above the bridge. The campground has an active pest control programme & it seems to be working. I know they are terrible predators on our birdlife but I couldn't help thinking about the kits the caught stoat would have had back in the nest wondering when Mum was going to get home. I figured it was Dad out looking for her the next day!

And this is a dunnock (with a moth in its bill) also known as a hedge sparrow. They are not so frequent up north although we have seen a few around the Central Plateau area, they have a wonderful song & like to sit right on the tip of a tree & sing their heart out. They are an introduced species and seemed to be quite plentiful the further south we move. They are quite shy & like to keep to the undergrowth although this one was searching around the rocks for dinner. A number of them were feeding on the grass seed.

And finally, not a bird but a bug. A huhu beetle that took up residence for a short while in our outside shoe box.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Shellie - love all the bird shots from this area! Great to see so many of estuary and bush birds eh.
    All the best for the rest of your time in the deep south! Heres hoping this comment works :-)


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