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Saturday, 20 April 2013

New Zealand

Miranda Shorebird Centre 

This was one of the places that I really wanted to visit having heard, both from the internet and word of mouth it was a must see when you’re in NZ.
Armed with my daughters Suzuki Swift I set out at dawn from Auckland and in little over an hour I was driving down the coast road at Miranda, the centre was still closed so I explored further up the coast.

I had not checked the Tides but it was quite obvious from the number of Variable and Pied Oystercatchers piling in that I had got very lucky indeed.
After going through these, Pied Stilts and Bar Tailed Godwit were also present I headed back down the coast road to the car park which I had passed earlier, waders were coming in thick and fast to the shallow pools.

Ringed Variable

Walking out to the 1st hide produced Pacific Golden Plover and a single Marsh Sandpiper amongst the hordes of Stilts arriving, had a good look at the P G Plovers as some were well into summer plumage, or as it was autumn were they losing it, the latter most likely. 

Pacific Golden Plovers

Moving on to the hide and many Terns were assembled, these included mostly White Fronted but there were also 33 Caspian’s present, dwarfing all were 4 Royal Spoonbills. Black Billed Gulls were also present in numbers and White Faced Herons were also very common. Out in the Firth of Thames I counted at least 10 Arctic Skuas doing the usual, ambushing Terns. 

The view

All the time I was watching a variety of waders were flying overhead in behind me, the pools were calling so I headed there pronto, I also met a very nice couple on the way who knew of Suttons Lane, Hornchurch just round the corner from me, it’s a small world and if you’re reading this, hello to you both. 

When I arrived there must have been upwards of 4000 waders at roost, 2000 of these at least were Wrybill, a bird that I have never seen, similar to winter plumed Sanderlings with the obvious difference of a horizontally curved bill. Going through the rest produced 3 Sharp Tailed Sandpipers and around 40 Banded Dotterel, another which was on want to see list having only seen them very distantly on the previous visit of 2007.

Wrybill in the foreground with 2 Sharp Tailed Sandpipers on the mud.

Lesser Knot

The remainder was made up off large numbers of Stilts, Bar Tailed Godwits and around 600 Lesser Knot, these were cracking looking birds in partial summer plumage, again a 1st. 
In the end I didn’t get any further than the pools but quite simply enjoyed what I was looking at in front of me, I stayed for at least 4 hours until the tide turned and got some photos as they left.


Wrybill and Banded Dotterel

Pied Stilt

Banded Dotterel

Hoping I have got this one right -New Zealand Dotterel, only 1700 left in NZ

Lesser Knot

To finish off the day I visited the centre, could easily have emptied the wallet in there but behaved myself, until the next time…..  

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