Godwits at Kowhai Bayin the Far North of New Zealand

Godwits at Kowhai Bay in the Far North of New Zealand

Last Thursday (13 Nov 2014) I had the pleasure of joining Les Feasey, BirdsNZ/OSNZ Regional Representative, at Kowhai Bay for an afternoon observing and counting coastal birds. I’ve always loved birds, but this took me into unfamiliar territory—the world of the birder. I spent a few hours juggling pen, notebook, scope and two digital Nikon cameras with large telephoto lenses. Not a wonder the pen fell from my grasp and hid under my seat.

It was loads of fun and intensely educational. Les was a gentle guide. Still, it required focus and attention when counting. That’s where the cameras helped.

Many of these birds breed in Alaska and migrate to New Zealand when the short Alaskan summer draws to a close. Their epic flight to Aotearoa is difficult to fathom. These birds are not very big.

The Bar-tailed Godwits (kuaka) feature in the ceiling at Te Ahu where I work and this was my first opportunity to see them in the wild. Kowhai Bay (immediately south of Henderson Bay) is one of three remote locations in the Far North where godwits, turnstones and knots can be found. It is obvious these birds only go where man goes not.

New Zealand Dotteral at Kowhai Bay

New Zealand Dotteral at Kowhai Bay

Our results were as follows:

Paradise Shelduck (Tadorna variegata)  1

South Island Pied Oystercatcher (SIPO) (Haematopus finschi)  1

Variable Oystercatcher (Haematopus unicolor)  14

New Zealand Dotterel (Charadrius obscurus)  11     A few with the godwit flock.  A few with the ruddy turnstone flock. A few juveniles.

Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)  700

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)  54

Red Knot (Calidris canutus)  137

South Black Backed Gull (Larus dominicanus)  11

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)  1

Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena)  2

 

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Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

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As I indicated in my previous post I get back to the Wairakau Stream track and Lane Cove whenever possible. I did so again today and saw Shining Cuckoos for the first time. I have heard them on more than one occasion on this walk but today for the first time three birds came within two metres of me when I stopped to rest in low regrowth scrub. They were more vividly coloured than I expected with emerald green backs.

Shining Cuckoo photograph by Duncan Watson, sourced from http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Shining Cuckoo photograph by Duncan Watson, sourced from http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz

 

Here’s the distinctive song of the cuckoo:

Tomtits are regularly seen on this walk and today was no exception.

Tomtit

Tomtit

Eastern Rosella

Eastern Rosella

Today’s walk followed several days of heavy rain. the creeks were high and after following a small group of rosellas on the side of Duke’s Nose I surprised two bathing in a swollen creek. This migrant from Australia has naturalized and is such a beautifully coloured bird. Who wouldn’t like them?

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101