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Shore Plovers at Plimmerton

Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:52 pm
by Neil Robertson
Following up reported sightings of four Shore Plovers on the beach by the Plimmerton Fire Station early yesterday 6 June, and approx 14 birds found there in late afternoon by one of the OSNZ conference field trips, the site was visited again by a few conference stragglers.
Early on with the tide low, but rising only 4 birds were present, however by 11am atleast 7 birds were in the area. I had to return to WGTN briefly to take Sue Odlin to the airport, but returned at about 1pm.

I can confirm that by early afternoon on a high tide the beach was host to AT LEAST TWENTY-FOUR Shore Plovers - this must be the largest flock of these birds to be seen on the New Zealand Mainland for over a century (perhaps ever) - representing approx 15% of the world population. A truly awesome experience shared by Neil Robertson (Southland), Sue Odlin (Otago), Morag and Simon Fordham (Auckland) and a bird photographer from Palmerston north. The birds were extremely tolerant of the presence of humans and would frequently approach to within 1.5 - 2 metres while feeding on the high tide line.

The sightings on 6 June suggested that the flock consisted of juvenile birds dispersing from the small breeding population on Mana Island, however a number of older birds were present in the flock seen on 7 June. Perhaps this movement is related to the state of the tide which causes the birds to leave roosting or feeding sites on Mana at high tide.

For those interested I have listed the colour band combinations (Upper Left - Lower Left - Upper Right - Lower Right)
W=White, Y=Yellow, R=Red, B=Blue, O=Orange, G=Green N=No bands present.
N(Amp)-N, BWGR, BWOG, BWWG, GRRG, GYGW, N-WG, ROBO, ROBW, WYBR, WYGB, WYGO, WYRW, WYRY, WYWR, WYYB, WYYR, YGOY, YRBR, YRGW, YRWB, YRWO, YRBY, YRGB.

There were two birds observed roosting and hopping where I could only record single leg combinations of OY and RY, I will study video footage to confirm which leg - if Left leg then these are birds 25 and 26.

Needless to say I took lots of video, trying to capture footage of as many of the individual birds as possible, Simon also took many (hundreds) of photos. I am happy to make the video available to anyone who is following up the development of the birds as they approach maturity, there is a lot of variation, in plumage especially around the head and neck, and also in bill colour.

Neil Robertson

Re: Shore Plovers at Plimmerton

Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:25 pm
by simon.fordham
As Neil has rightfully pointed out, this was a truly awesome experience.

Wildlife photography is always at its best when you are part of the subjects' environment and they are carrying on their normal behaviour.To sit down and have the birds feeding within 2 metres was certainly a privilege.

I look forward to seeing some of your video Neil.

Cheers
Simon

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Re: Shore Plovers at Plimmerton

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:31 pm
by Michael Szabo
Thanks for posting your photos, Simon. It's great to see that adult birds were seen later on the day after the initial sighting of juveniles.
Happy birding!
Michael

Re: Shore Plovers at Plimmerton

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:41 pm
by ledzep
Video of the Shore Plover at Plimmerton from Monday afternoon 6 June on Youtube (source video is much higher quality).
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peY7YVFdbY4[/youtube]

Re: Shore Plovers at Plimmerton

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:10 am
by Neil Fitzgerald
Cool. It's really nice to be able to see their behaviour like this. The rubbish (drink can) is also very telling.
Is there any push to have decent pest control and education right along that coast which they are increasingly using? It's only a matter of time before they try breeding there.

Re: Shore Plovers at Plimmerton

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:11 pm
by tim
Last year I remember on birdling NZ that there was a pair that tried breeding at Plimmerton, nest failed but was recorded.

Re: Shore Plovers at Plimmerton

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:36 pm
by Neil Fitzgerald
Then the need for predator control is quite urgent. Ideally the local community would get behind, adopt the birds, and push the required management.

Re: Shore Plovers at Plimmerton

Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:32 am
by Neil Robertson
Some more short video clips from 7 June (follow the link) - requested by Simon Fordham

http://ibc.lynxeds.com/video/shore-plov ... eelandiae/

Agree wholeheartedly with Neil Fitzgerald, re local community support, this is likely to be the most effective route. I have just returned from a birding trip to Ontario and witnessed an example of a local community protecting a very similar species on the shores of Lake Huron, the Piping Plover - to the extent that 99% of the locals are happy to have part of the recreational beach fenced off during the nesting season, volunteers erect cages over the nests to prevent the larger predators (cats, dogs etc) gaining access, and even maintain a presence close by to keep an eye on brooding adults and to inform visitors about the project - would be great to see something similar working here if nesting is attempted on some of the mainland beaches.

Neil Robertson

Re: Shore Plovers at Plimmerton

Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:27 am
by Ian Southey
Maybe the first step to community involvement might be to get an article in the local newspaper. I think it's already interesting enough and there seem to be some good pictures too.

Ian

Re: Shore Plovers at Plimmerton

Posted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:52 pm
by ledzep
20+ Shore Plovers again by the fire station Sunday morning. Hard to count the exact number because they hide among the rocks and keep moving! There is also 1 Black Fronted Tern (breeding plumage) making a regular appearance on the rocks nearby with the White Fronted Terns.