A group of us visited Foxton Beach today, and Lake Omanu. Generally, we thought that waterfowl numbers were down on Lake Omanu, though there are always plenty of Canada Geese. We did find two White Heron there. On Foxton Beach there was a Red-necked Stint feeding with the Wrybill (about 17 Wrybill). It is a bit early for Stints to appear, and this individual had plenty of red breeding plumage around the neck.
Spotted Shags breed on Somes Island in the middle of Wellington harbour, but they are seen infrequently just a couple of kilometres away on the mainland. I have seen them occasionally around Queens Wharf and Oriental Parade, and sometimes a flock appears on the old wharf in Evans Bay near Wellington airport. Today I found this chap on the rocks near Eastbourne township, starting to come in to breeding plumage.
There are several pairs of Bittern in the Lake Omanu area near Foxton. Possibly as many as 10 birds. Unfortunately you often only get to see them when you flush them, and that is how we saw this bird which then got chased by an Australian Magpie as it flew off round the lake.
It is pretty unusual to find a Grey Duck in New Zealand that is really “grey”, and not a hybrid with a Mallard. One that truly resembles a Pacific Black Duck. We found a pair today on the pond at the back of Foxton Beach on Palmer Road. Nice white facial markings, dark bill and green speculum.
The White Heron is back again this year – has been a regular winter visitor staying for periods of several months near the boatsheds at Hutt River estuary, and alongside the river near Shandon golf club.
Dianne and I just did the eBird 2016 Big Day, logging a respectable total of 66 species for the Wellington region. One of the highlights was seeing a group of 5 male Ring-necked Pheasants on a hillside on the road to Waikawa Beach. They are quite grand birds.
One of a pair of Falcons that have nested on Te Ahumairangi Hill (Tinankori Hill) in Wellington this year. Their nest is just off the main northern walkway route, and the Falcons vigorously defend their territory if anyone approaches.
Update January 2016 – they had 3 chicks. Keeping an eye out for them as they mature.
Five Royal Spoonbills in breeding plumage feeding near Waione Bridge near the mouth of the Hutt river at Petone.
There is a good population of NZ Dabchick near Wellington, at Pharazyn Reserve in Waikanae and the Otaki Oxidation ponds. This bird was seen from the hide at Pharazyn Reserve.
We did a pelagic out into Cook Strait with a local fishing charter, and you don’t need to go very far before the Albatrosses turn up. We also had White-capped, Salvin’s, Royals and Black-browed. This is a Northern Buller Mollymawk. The bill is strikingly colourful.