Local shore bird report

  Photos from Sue Rose July 2014 and an the latest Shore plover update.


Harry and the Paddlers

Photo by Sue Rose - received Highly Commended in the Recreation category in GOPI's 2014 Photo Competition. Congratulations Sue and Harry!

Sue and Harry present ... the bird report (posted 22 September 2014)

I have just got back from three weeks holiday so haven’t kept up with what’s happening. However, I have noticed that the last lonely shore plover is still with us, although she has been popping back to Mana occasionally - still evading capture however.  She was a breeder last season so it is sad that she won’t be able to do her bit for the species.

Harry and I came across a sad pied shag a few weeks ago, in fact we initially thought it was dead as it was lying on the rocks just by the firestation and I decided to have a close look to see if I could tell what had happened. It looked absolutely beautiful and I gave its neck a stroke only to have it leap into life, screech at us and manage to get to the water in a very ungainly fashion, looking like it had a broken leg.  I later saw it had reached Plimmerton Beach and watched as a dog walker went past and the poor bird managed to flee into the water again.  I decided to telephone the SPCA and was delighted when a young man turned up with a net and caught the bird and took it to the zoo hospital to be checked out.

Its great to see lots of Whitefronted Terns on the rocks.  Occasionally we are lucky enough to see the occasional Blackfronted Tern amongst them - they are more greyish, but differ in that they don’t have the white area between their head and beak and have red beak and legs.  We also have the much larger Caspian Terns and there is often a pair around the Firestation area.

Older news:

(posted 2 August 2014)

I have been monitoring the birds in the fire station area over the years and only once have I found a dead bird - about five years ago.  The five birds that we have had until recently were thriving but the danger was that they would soon be nesting (with the risk that they wouldn’t go back to Mana to do so) and with the male bird on the nest at night and the female during the day they are “sitting ducks” for any passing predator on the mainland.  We actually had six birds arrived from Mana back in April but one of the more senior male birds vanished and shortly afterwards a juvenile bird with no bands arrived.  That bird hung around for a while but disappeared in June.  While it is possible that a bird could be picked off by a rat or cat, it is just as likely that it could have been a gull - or even a hawk or falcon while the shore plovers were in flight.

At a meeting of the Shore Plover Recovery Group in May it was decided to abandon the Mana Island project in the meantime and capture the last five birds and send them to Mount Bruce to become captive breeders.  Three birds were caught last Monday week, one bird on the Tuesday and the remaining female bird is still with us, cleverly evading capture.  I see her every day and despite watching her plaintively calling out for her friends on the day that she ended up alone, she seems to be doing fine (photo attached).

As far as the rat story is concerned, in 2011 a rat ended up on Mana Island right at the time of nesting and as a result the previously healthy population of about 50 birds was devastated.  When so many birds disappeared it was not realised immediately what the problem was until the rat was picked up by a camera.  The rat's cache was found containing bird remains and plastic coloured bands.

In addition, a lot of the birds have just flown off over time, one apparently flew back to Mount Bruce where it was raised.  Another one flew back to Peacock Springs in Canterbury and was found outside the aviary in which its parents were captive breeders!  One female bird flew from Mana to Plimmerton then seen a couple of weeks later 350 km away at Lake Ellesmere, then a few weeks later in Manawatu, then a month later back at Mana.  One was seen on Petone Beach, another at Palliser Bay then in Golden Bay, just doing what birds do !

Still on the bird topic, in the last month I have seen on the rocks by the fire station a NZ Pippet, a reef heron and a banded dotterell - see photos above.  While I will miss watching out for the shore plovers, there are still lots of interesting feathered friends to observe locally.



older news (posted 28 June 2013)

“The shore plovers are visiting our beaches again on the odd morning. We need to keep dogs cats (and people) off the beach area by the fire station when the birds are there. We are looking at double siding the signage so it’s more obvious.

A pair of Caspian terns is hanging out near the fire station area too as are numerous oyster catchers (including one with a missing foot). White faced herons are numerous, white fronted terns, and from time to time rare black fronted terns, are visiting.

 Black backed gulls, red beaked gulls, sacred kingfishers ... an occasional reef heron, all sorts of cormorants, gannets, pied stilts, the odd dotterel and wrybill can be seen regularly on our beaches right now. You don’t have to be an ornithologist to appreciate the rich variety of bird life we are privileged to enjoy around Plimmerton.”

On a wing and a prayer - Stuff.co.nz about the storm petrel - maybe one day we'll see these in Plimmerton too!
Last Updated: 21/09/2014 4:16pm