Sunday 17 April 2011

More wrybill than you can shake a stick at

Today the plan was to head slowly down towards Miranda seeing what we could find along the way.  We left Warkworth and headed through Waiwera, stopping briefly at the estuary where we saw a pair of New Zealand dotterel, before heading to a small freshwater pond.  We had nice views of NZ scaup, dabchick, a couple of Pacific black duck and little black shags, before then heading back to another nearby spot with nice views of shoveler and grey teal.

We then headed on further south to Mangere.  This time it was high tide and we walked along the shore to where the shorebirds were roosting on shellbanks.  There were large numbers of South Island oystercatchers, and quite a few godwit and red knot, but the highlight was surely about 1000 wrybill.  There was also a reef egret which gave great comparisons side by side with the white-faced herons, and a single whimbrel in with the godwit, and a large flock of Royal spoonbill.  Several more New Zealand dotterel were nice.

We watched the flock of wrybill wheel around when disturbed by other birds, truly a great sight.  As the tide started to go out the birds started to move off and so did we.  We grabbed some lunch and then drove around to another spot where we had great views of the wrybill feeding on the mudflats, and a flock of red-billed gulls feeding on the water’s edge with several spoonbill.  Again we found a black-fronted dotterel and had nice views through the scope, and then several dabchick on a freshwater pond.

We then headed south further still on our way to Miranda, making a stop for bittern on the way.  We had views of at least two different birds out on the wetland, with them being pretty active despite the fact it was early afternoon.

At Miranda we checked into our accommodation and then visited the Shorebird Centre.  Then we headed towards the Stilt Ponds, but found three sharp-tailed sandpipers in a wet field nearby.  One of the birds was in absolute stonking breeding plumage.  Really a very stunning bird.  The Stilt Ponds lived up to their name, with a lot of stilts, and on the shellbanks was another flock of around 1000 bwrybill.  So today we may well have seen almost half of the breeding population!  There was also a lot of bar-tailed godwit and red knot, some in absolutely stunning breeding plumage.  A small group of Pacific golden plover with one bird in full breeding plumage was also nice, and several ruddy turnstone and a red-necked stint were also found.  A flock of black-billed gulls and a very large flock of South Island oystercatchers were also roosting on the shellbanks.  So all in all a great selection of birds and a good chance to study them all.

Deciding the sun was definitely over the yard-arm we headed to the local fish and chip shop where we had an excellent meal and a few drinks, before heading back to the accommodation.

Bird of the day – still to come
Day total – Seen = 57 + 1H (silvereye); new for the trip = 4; total for the trip to date = 106


  1. A flock of Wrybill sounds like a dream come true! I hadnt realized that their population was so small.

  2. Yep sure is an amazing sight! They had a terrible breeding season, so lets hope they can pick things up next year...they don't have a lot of margin for error at this point!