Sunday, 30 October 2016

16th October - not just on the beach

Today I walked a little inland from the estuary. There is a little stand of trees next to some small pools that regularly turn up interesting birds.

On the ponds were some Australasian shovelers, grey teal and mallards. The teal and shoveler are more tolerant of people here and it was good to get close to them, even in the fading light. The mallards had several ducklings which they fussed over, the same as the world over.

Australasian shoveler (Anas rhynchotis)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

The highlight of the evening though, was a white-faced heron landing on top of a tall tree. They are nesting nearby and you can see them during the day circling and squawking away. They never look very elegant when they are in trees.
White-faced heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)

Thursday, 27 October 2016

14th October - My first exciting find

I am always thinking about when the tide is on it's way up the beach as this is the best time to see the waders. So I found myself at dusk, just having a quick look along the shoreline. You get to know New Zealand birds, their shapes, colours and habits so when I saw something in the distance that looked a little darker and smaller than the surrounding wrybill, I was excited. Once my lens was on it, I could see that it was something different. I thought, and confirmed later, that it was a red-necked stint. You just never know what might turn up along this beach.

Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis)

Further along the beach towards the sand spit was a solitary royal spoonbill. I can never quite get over the fact that I live somewhere that spoonbills live. They seem so exotic. They are truly royal.

Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia)

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

2nd October - Sunset

There is pretty much nothing between the west coast of the North Island and Australia. At certain times of the year we may catch a glimpse of the South Island but really it is just ocean. Does provide for a rather beautiful sunset though.

And it is not just birds that enjoy the beach. My 10 year old greyhound is reliving his racing days. Not a bad impersonation of a kangaroo!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

30th September - Meet the godwits

My first real visit to the beach and I was looking forward to seeing the godwits. These incredible birds are the marathon runners of the bird world flying extreme distances every year. In New Zealand, when they arrive it is a sign of warmer months coming so they are celebrated when they are here and mourned when they leave.

Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)

As I watch the birds being pushed up the beach, this bird looked a bit put out at having to move and steadfastly refused to lower its second leg from roosting position.

Resident on the beach are small numbers of Caspian terns. They are the largest tern species and have a distinct squawky call in flight. These birds are in non-breeding plumage with white flecks in their cap. The bird on the left is a youngster crying to the parent (unsuccessfully) for food.

Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

The white-faced heron is pretty shy so getting close to it can be a bit tricky. Luckily in Foxton Beach, there is a sand spit where the birds roost and across from that is the walkway along the estuary. With luck and a good lens, you can get pretty good images.

White-faced heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)

My last find of the day was the adorable wrybill. The only bird in the world that has a laterally curved bill. During the winter months, they scamper up and down the shore using that bill to dig up food. 

Wrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis)

Monday, 24 October 2016

2nd September - Welcome to Foxton Beach

Arriving in Foxton Beach and my first look around. This view is at the end of my road looking east along the Manawatu river towards the Tararua ranges.

My first bird spotted! Looking west along the river, the tide leaves small streams. This white-faced heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) is a native that self introduced from Australia in the mid 20th century. It is our most prolific heron.