Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Black-fronted Tern

The black-fronted tern is an endangered endemic New Zealand bird. It is locally common and seen regularly in parts of the South Island. Here, on the North Island, we see single birds from time to time mostly in the autumn. They will often associate with groups of white-fronted tern. 

White-fronted tern have been absent in numbers for several months while they breed and have now just begun to return to the beach. Last week I spotted a group of about 50 resting near the bird sanctuary. It was special in itself as there were birds coming and going right through my line of photography fire. To have these elegant birds passing me a knee level was so terrific, I almost forgot to take the photos. 

In amongst the white-fronted terns I spotted a black-fronted. It was an immature bird that had clearly not mastered the skill of balance as it kept falling over when it tried to scratch it's head. 

Black-fronted tern (Chlidonias albostriatus)

White-fronted Tern (Sterna striata)

Saturday, 11 February 2017

5th Feb - A trip to Waikanae

After Foxton Beach, Waikanae is my favourite birding place. As well as regular unusual birds on the beach, there are regular special birds to be seen. On the south side of the river in Otaihanga, there is an established population of fernbirds. Secretive and shy, they are difficult to see although you can hear their distinctive calls on most visits. I was lucky today, arriving early a pair of fernbirds were visible calling to each other across the creek. Not often you get a great shot within 2 minutes of arriving.

After seeing the fernbirds, I drove south to QEII Park to see the New Zealand grebe, the dabchick. I had heard there were chicks visible and they are very interesting. On the ponds, there was indeed a chick, being fed regularly by protective parents.

That was not the real excitement though. There was another pair of dabchick and they were either courting or fighting, I couldn't quite work out which. Great photographic opportunity.

29th Jan Fairy Prions

After visiting Tangimoana, just north of Foxton Beach, we decided to drive back along the beach. Amazingly enough, at low tide you can make it the 20km plus entirely on the beach. A few km in and we saw a small petrel like bird in the surf. This was unusual and after a closer look it turned out to be a fairy prion, New Zealand's most common petrel. There was a total of 14 birds flying close to the sand and in the shallows. It had been very windy in the days before, so I assume they had been driven in. It turns out they were juvenile birds in their first plumage and unlikely to survive. A bitter thought after a wonderful afternoon chasing them along the shoreline. Here are my best images.