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(from K is for KIWI, Reed)

While I was sitting by a lake, making a daisy chain, dragonflies danced in the air above, as a dabchick swam in the rain.   Dotterels sat on the sandy shore, and a duck flew down to be fed, and the daisy chain that I had made, I used as a crown for my head.




 WRYBILL / Ngutu parore

WRYBILL     Anarhynchus frontalis     

FAMILY: Charadridae             Endemic and fully protected.   This little shore bird is somewhat smaller than the Banded Dotterel.   It is a uniform light-grey above and white below, with a black 'collar' during the breeding season.   The bill is black,  long and pointed with the tip bent to the right.   Wrybills breed on South Island broad shingle riverbeds east of the main divide in Canterbury and North Otago.   From December to July they can be seen on mudflats and estuaries, with the majority migrating to the Auckland area with small numbers elsewhere.   They feed on insects and small invertabrates.   Breeding is from September to November.   The nest is a small scrape in river sand or shingle.   The eggs, usually 2, are light-grey evenly covered with minute dark spots.



 Pacific Golden Plover     Pluvialis dominica     FAMILY: Charadridae.       Migrant,  from  NE Siberia and West Alaska.   There are closely related sub-species in other parts of the sub-arctic.   Fully protected.   Size of a Blackbird, with a short bill.   Non-breeding plumage is from September to March and has no black front and face or white stripe.   Birds arrive in NZ in September and leave for the breeding grounds in Siberia and Alaska by mid-April.   The breeding plumage appears in February.   Immature birds retain this plumage during the first year.   Some non-breeders stay in NZ during the breeding season.   They are found throughout NZ, especially Manukau, Firth of Thames and Bluff.   They are seen singly or in small flocks on coastal mudflats, and inland on wet, short pasture.   They feed on worms, insects, seeds and vegetable matter.   Breeding, in NE Siberia and Alaska, from May to June.   The eggs, 4, are yellowish-buff, strongly blotched with blackish-brown.  


 NZ SHORE PLOVER / Tuturuatu

NZ Shore Plover     Thinornis novaeseelandiae       FAMILY: Charadriidae     Endemic and fully protected.    Same size as Banded Dotterel.   The face on the male is black, brown in the female.The immature bird is similar to the female but has a smudgy face and black bill.   These birds are extremely rare although they were once plentiful throughout NZ.   They now breed only on South East Island in the Chathams.   Seen mainly on salt meadows and rocky shore platforms.   They feed on invertabrates.   Breeding is from September to February.   The nest is interwoven dried roots and grass, in a crevise or hole among boulders or vegetation, and mostly covered from above.   The eggs, 2-3, are olive-buff to pale brown with small dark spots and blotches all over.   



Eastern Bar-tailed Godwit     Limosa lapponica     FAMILY: Scolopacidae    

 Migrant from NE Siberia and Alaska.   There is a closely related sub-species in North Europe.   Fully protected.   Smaller body than an Oystercatcher, with long black slender legs and long, slightly upturned  bill.   Non-breeding plumage is a mottled greyish-buff, from September to February with the breeding plumage starting to appear in February.   Immature birds retain the non-breeding plumage for the first year.   Godwits arrive in NZ in September and most depart in late March.    Some non-breeding birds remain here during the Winter.   They are found mostly in flocks on coastal marshes and mudflats throughout NZ, with concentrations in Auckland, Farewell Spit, Christchurch and Invercargill.   They feed mainly on crustacea, molluscs and marine invertabrates.   Breeding is in NE Siberia and Alaska from May to June.   The eggs, usually 4, are large, greenish-brown with dark brown blotches.



ROYAL SPOONBILL / Kotuku-ngutu-papa

 White Heron     Egretta alba     FAMILY: Ardeidae      Native, also found in Australia, with a closely related sub-species throughout the world.   Fully protected.   A large heron, pure white with a yellow bill and black legs.   The adult bill turns black during the breeding season and long white plumes appear on the back.  They fly with the long neck retracted, and a slow, leisurely beat.   Seen in small numbers throughout the country but breeding only at Okarito, South Westland in the company of Royal Spoonbills.   They disperse outside the breeding season to lake edges, ponds, marshes and estuaries.   They feed on small fish, insects, frogs, and sometimes small birds  using a quick stabbing motion of the bill.     Breeding is from September to October.   The nest is of twigs in a colony on low trees and tree ferns near the water.   The eggs, 3-4, are pale bluish-green.


Royal Spoonbill          Platelia regia              FAMILY: Threskiornithidae   

Native.   Self introduced since the 1850s and also found in Australia and New Guinea.   Fully protected.   Slightly larger than the White Heron  with the face, large flattened bill and legs, black.  The rest of the plumage is white.   The neck is extended in flight, and the immature birds may have a varying ammount of black on the flight feathers visible when in flight.   Found throughout the country, they are less common than the White Heron and only breed in association with White Herons at Okarito.   They disperse to river estuaries and lagoons outside the breeding season.   They feed on small crustacea in shallow water, by sidesweeping the tip of the bill through the water.   Breeding is from November to December and the nest is of sticks, in a colony, on higher trees than the White Heron.   The eggs, 3-4, are white, sparingly marked with brown blotches.



BANDED DOTTEREL/ Tuturiwhatu         


Charadrius   bicinctus  FAMILY:  Charadriidae

Endemic and fully protected.   Similar size to Song Thrush.  Voice is a high pitched staccato 'pit pit'.   Found throughout NZ on coasts, riverbeds and lake shores.   After breeding there is a movement north where there is a concentration in northern NZ in Winter.   Some winter over in Australia.   Breeding August to December, the nest being a scrape in sand or shingle.   Eggs, normally 3, are greyish or brownish with dark brown or black spots and blotches all over.



Black-fronted Dotterel

Charadrius melanops   FAMILY:  Charadridae

Native, self introduced from Australia in the 1950s.   Fully protected.   These birds are smaller than the Banded Dotterel with a striking black and white pattern on the head, and a broad V-shaped band on the breast and chestnut-brown patch on the shoulder.   The black band is not present in the immature bird.   Their call is a high-pitched whistle or a soft "Tink Tink".   These birds were first seen in Hawke's Bay and are now common in Central Hawke's Bay shingle river beds, and spreading to the Wairarapa, Manawatu and the east coast of the South Island.   In New Zealand they breed on riverbeds that are not far inland.   In Australia they breed mainly on the edges of stagnant water.   Food consists of aquatic insects and invertebrates.   Breeding is from September to January and the nest is usually a scrape among grass and shingle or sometimes in the open.   The eggs, usually 3, are yellowish-stone, heavily spotted and marked all over with dark brown.



 Turnstone     Arenaria interpres     

            FAMILY: Scolopacidae                      

 Migrant.   Circumpolar in the sub-arctic.   The birds seen in NZ are probably from Siberia and Alaska.   Fully protected.     Slightly larger than a Blackbird, these birds have orange legs with a white lower back and wing bar which are prominent when the bird is in flight.   The non-breeding plumage - October to January - is grey above and white below.   Breeding plumage - February till their departure in April, is distinctively black, white and rufous.   They feed actively under stones and flotsam.   Turnstone start arriving in September and most leave by mid-April.   Small flocks of immature birds remain in the North during Winter.   They are found throughout NZ on shelly or stony foreshores feeding on crustacea and insects.   Breeding is in June in Siberia and Alaska.   The eggs, 4, are greyish-green with irregular brown streaks, blotches and spots.   This bird is the third most numerous of the visiting waders.


 KNOT / Hauhou

Knot      Calidris canutus     FAMILY: Scolopacidae     Migrant from arctic regions of Siberia and Alaska.   Fully protected.    Same size as a Blackbird with the non-breeding and immature plumage a nondescript grey and white,  September to February.   The breeding plumage is chestnut red below with chestnut streaked grey above.   They are generally seen in tight flocks on sandy flats, often associated with Godwits.   Knots  usually arrive in NZ in September and most leave by mid-April.   A large number remain in NZ during the winter and these flocks  may contain both plumages.   They can be found throughout NZ coasts on inter-tidal mud, sand flats and lagoons near the coast, especially Kaipara, Firth of Thames, Manukau and Farewell Spit.   They feed on crustacea, molluscs and marine invertabrates.   Breeding is in June in Siberia and Alaska.   The eggs, 4, are greenish-buff with dark spots.



White faced Heron      Ardea novaehollandiae     FAMILY: Ardeidae            Native.   Self introduced from Australia and rare until the 1940s.   Fully protected.   Light blue-grey body with a white face and pink blush to the breast.   The dark grey wing feathers contrast when in flight with the paler body.   The neck is retracted when in flight, the wing beat being slow and leisurely.   The immature bird has a less indistinct white face.   This is the most common of the herons and is widespread throughout NZ.   It can be seen in all habitats except bush and rarely alpine.   Main habitats are ponds, lakes, seashore, rivers and open pasture.   They often perch on trees and fence posts, and may be seen in large groups.   They feed mainly on land and water insects like dragonflies, blowflies, grasshoppers etc. and also fish, frogs and small mammals.   Breeding is from August to December and the nest is a small, untidy and flimsy structure of sticks, found singly in high trees.   (Not colonial)    The eggs, 3-5, are light blue with white chalky marks.


REEF HERON / Matuku-moana

Reef Heren     Egretta sacra    

           FAMILY:  Ardeidae     

Native, also in Asia, Australia and the SW Pacific.   Fully protected.   A white form occurs throughout the northern part of its range outside NZ.   This bird is similar to, but much darker than the White-faced Heron, being a dark slate-blue all over.   The neck is retracted in flight and the wing beat slow and leisurely.   Seen singly or in pairs.   Reef Heron can be seen throughout the country, but only on sheltered, rocky coastlines.    Sparingly distributed.   They are more common in the northern half of the North Island and larger off-shore islands, frequenting mudflats and intertidal zones.   They feed close inshore on crabs and small fish.   Breeding is from September to February.   The nest of sticks is well hidden in shallow caves or crevises, or among bushes on steep cliffs, not far from water.   The eggs, usually 3, are pale greenish-blue.



Copyright(c) 2006 Janet Marshall. All rights reserved.


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