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September 2016


Basic BIRD CALLS heard on the mud:

Spur-winged plover - shrill staccato rattle
Variable oystercatcher - quite vocal, a shrill flight call of 'kleep, kleep'
Northern dotterel - distinctive 'chip, chip', often heard before the bird is seen


September 1st 2016

9am, falling tide 2m (high tide 2.94m)
Sunny, calm, tideline at base of shellspit
Monitoring position: main shellspit down from landbridge

5 spur-winged plover
6 northern dotterel
8 variable oystercatcher

Dotterels clustered near gap in needle grass


September 3rd 2016

2pm, falling tide 1.4m (low tide 0.3m)
Overcast, calm

1 reef heron
3 pied stilts
6 red-billed gull
6 northern dotterel
16 variable oystercatcher

The dotterels can be very hard to count accurately when the tide is out, as they do roam widely across the mud as scattered individuals. With their camouflage colouring it can take a patient eye to detect their distinct scurrying


September 7th 2016

2pm, mid-tide 1.5m, tide edge 10m from shell spit
Overcast, gusty, some fine drizzle
Monitoring position: shellspit, landbridge end

1 reef heron
1 pied stilts
4 northern dotterel
12 variable oystercatcher

Oyster catchers in pairs scattered broadly either side of lagoon outlet tide edge


September 11th 2016

1pm, near high tide 2.45m
Clear sky, calm, water barely rippled

1 spur-winged plover
2 northern dotterel
7 variable oystercatcher

Dotterels in needle grass gap, no birds actively feeding


September 18th 2016

1pm, low tide 0.04m
Recent stormy weather just passed, still windy

2 black-backed gull (1 juvenile)
14 red-billed gull (adjacent to seaward side of oyster farm)
4 spur-winged plover (behind shellspit)
16 variable oystercatcher
2 paradise shelduck adults (male & female)
5 paradise shelduck chicks
4 northern dotterel

Dotterels first observed on shell spit before flying over to feed near Pearl Bay tide-edge, then flying across to feed near main tidal channel. Perhaps recent reduced numbers signify some dotterel are now nesting. Shelducks were disturbed in wetland adjacent to lawn access, parents performed broken wing display as chicks fled across the mud


September 24th 2016

11am, near high tide 2.97m
Overcast, strong breeze, rain on the way
Monitoring position: southern shellspit, across from dotterel zone

1 caspian tern (stayed only a short time)
4 spur-winged plover (on needle grass gap)
6 variable oystercatcher (scattered in pairs)
7 kotare (all feeding on mud adjacent to salt meadow)
6 northern dotterel

No paradise shelducks seen. Kaka heard overhead. Kotare song from the bushline is ever present, but this is the first encounter of so many on the mud in a relatively small area, 1 observed catching a mud crab.

First targeted dotterel monitor: 30 min remote observation of dotterel zone, from needle grass gap to end of shellspit. 3 dotterel on gravel below shell spit, by lagoon channel, with heads nestled under their wings; 2 dotterel scurrying up & down shellspit slope at needlegrass gap; 1 dotterel ranging widely across salt meadow before eventually flying back to the shellspit. No unusual activity around needlegrass noted.


Images of lower Te Matuku Bay are intended to provide a sense of place
rather than show specific conditions on monitoring days

Binoculars used for monitoring:

Barr & Stroud, model CF43, specification 10x42, central focus, serial number 118156
Purchased circa 1954, specifically for birdwatching

Visitors & Volunteers
are more than welcome