If we didn't have photos no-one would believe us!

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andrewcrossland
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If we didn't have photos no-one would believe us!

Postby andrewcrossland » Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:09 pm

2 Northern Shovelers and 2 Hoary-headed Grebes at Lake Ellesmere

Well today was the winter wader census at Lake Ellesmere and it started with patches of thick fog, 6 degree temperatures, an excessively high lake level, almost no exposed mudflats and only a 50/50 chance that anyone was gonna find anything. The Birds NZ teams set out to points around the northern and western side of the lake, while the CCC ranger teams headed to parts east and south. I left two teams of rangers at rendezvous rock opposite the Halswell rivermouth with a quick roadside lesson on rare bird ID 101 and a general wish of luck. It seemed to work as 10 minutes later they ran straight into a stunning breeding-plumaged Northern Shoveler.

Meanwhile, unbeknown to me (as I'd left my phone at the office and my radio wasn't working) I kept driving further and further away, heading half way down Kaitorete Spit, oblivious to that lifer slipping further and further away. But no worries, I drive into the CCC Kaitorete Reserve, jump up on the tray of the truck, set up and my scope, take a look and BINGO! a male Northern Shoveler! My good camera is broken but I managed to get some record shots with an older camera taken thru the scope. Green head, no crescent, large expansive clean white breast, bright chestnut flanks with no scalloping. THis site was 20km by road from the first bird and 5.4 km across the lake in a straight line.

Northern Shov2.jpg


I knew that Phil Crutchley was keen to see a Northern Shoveler but he had started his sector 16km west and was heading in my direction but was an unknown distance away. There were too many harriers about and by the time Phil arrived the Northern Shoveler had been flushed and was either among a flock of c.800 Shov/Grey Teal that had moved 100-200m offshore, or amongst another flock of at least 3000 Shov/Grey Teal feeding half-obscured in flooded grass and marsh. We spent half an hour searching but no luck - although (as occurred earlier in the season) there were many aberrant NZ Shoveler with pale breasts and "braces". All of these though had crescents and a varying amount of black splots on sides of breast and flanks. An example below"
andrewcrossland
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Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:29 pm
Location: Christchurch

Re: If we didn't have photos no-one would believe us!

Postby andrewcrossland » Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:10 pm

Northern Shov2.jpg
Northern Shov2.jpg (247.93 KiB) Viewed 933 times



N shoveler3.jpg
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And an aberrant nz shov at the same location for comparison

NZ Shov.jpg
NZ Shov.jpg (234.65 KiB) Viewed 933 times
Last edited by andrewcrossland on Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:12 am, edited 3 times in total.
andrewcrossland
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Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:29 pm
Location: Christchurch

Re: If we didn't have photos no-one would believe us!

Postby andrewcrossland » Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:33 pm

So, we decide to leave this bird and go back to where Matt Rose, Kenny Rose and the other guys in the CCC teams had found the first Northern Shoveler. Directions were straight out at the fenceline just west of the Royal Spoonbill colony.

map 1.jpg
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map 2.JPG
map 2.JPG (59.67 KiB) Viewed 919 times


We walk parallel to the stopbank (see map 2) and out toward a flock of 500+ Shov/Grey Teal on the lake edge, with another 300+ mostly Grey Teal to the north-west and hundreds more small ducks further south-east.

A Harrier keeps buzzing the birds and flushes the small waterfowl flocks away from the shoreline. The light is dark under a heavily overcast later afternoon sky. We can't find the Northern Shoveler, but turn up two small grebes at the end of the fenceline, exactly where the Shoveler was reported. Just beyond them was a pair of Crested Grebe.

Small grebes are a jinx bird on Lake Ellesmere - occasionally reported, always a great distance away under appalling light, and never satisfactorily identified to species. These two were <100m distant, but frequently diving and in grey light. I took photos thru the scope but of horrendously bad quality. They were greyish, dark-faced, dark-crowned, dark-backed, pale throated, pale rear-ended with no rufous and no yellow tear drop. We provisionally identified them as a pair of winter-plumaged Hoary-headed Grebe. Hopefully they'll be relocated tomorrow or later in the week.

small grebe 1.jpg
small grebe 1.jpg (551.66 KiB) Viewed 919 times
andrewcrossland
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Location: Christchurch

Re: If we didn't have photos no-one would believe us!

Postby andrewcrossland » Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:48 pm

The Grey Teal, Shov, Geese, Pied Stilts etc all seem uneasy, Its not because of us, or the Harrier which has circled out over the lake.......... Its because of a ...............swimming cat!! EH?!! ... yep, a swimming cat, chugging around the lake like a retriever chasing a downed Mallard..

cat.jpg
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A short while after we spotted it, the cat swam to shore and skulked away like a leopard on a mission


cat 2.jpg
cat 2.jpg (282.57 KiB) Viewed 910 times


Moving away from the cat and the grebes we recommence our scanning for the Northern Shoveler. We look east and glass a large several hundred Shov/Grey Teal. Suddenly!! Phil spots it with binocs and grabs for his scope......

But, what the heck?! we suddenly realise there's a low flying (as in <30m) parapant is beating down on us - and the shoveler (never seen one of those at the lake before - esp on a mid-winter's day!). Nuts!

parapant.jpg
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Terrified every bird for a mile around is about to take flight in panic, we seize quick views of the Northern Shoveler through the scopes and I take an absolutely terrible record shot (but, yeah, you know, its pretty obvious what the bird is!!).
andrewcrossland
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Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:29 pm
Location: Christchurch

Re: If we didn't have photos no-one would believe us!

Postby andrewcrossland » Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:51 pm

Bonza!! The "worst best bird pic" ever taken!!

N shoveler1.jpg
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And just to finish off,...... here's a nice photo of some rabbits!!



rabbits.jpg
rabbits.jpg (514.37 KiB) Viewed 911 times
Last edited by andrewcrossland on Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Davidthomas
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Re: If we didn't have photos no-one would believe us!

Postby Davidthomas » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:05 pm

Seems to have been a bit of an eruption of northern shoveler as there are about 5 around the place at the moment. One would assume there must equally be a similar number of female northern shovelers?!
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Oscar Thomas
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Re: If we didn't have photos no-one would believe us!

Postby Oscar Thomas » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:54 pm

What a read Andrew. Thanks for sharing!
https://www.instagram.com/oscarkokako/ - NZ List (204) Southern Giant petrel, Tutukaka, Northland
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Neil Fitzgerald
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Re: If we didn't have photos no-one would believe us!

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:55 pm

Great photos Andrew! You have a few great candidates for the worst shot of a still identifiable bird award!
Good to see the Canterbury panther is alive and well.
Jim_j
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Re: If we didn't have photos no-one would believe us!

Postby Jim_j » Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:02 am

Crickey - never a dull moment down there.
Maybe NZs legendary "otter" has been found.....!
andrewcrossland
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Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:29 pm
Location: Christchurch

Re: If we didn't have photos no-one would believe us!

Postby andrewcrossland » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:50 am

Here's some pis of the first bird (opp Halswell rivermouth ) taken yesterday by Kenny Rose. I've taken pucs of them from my computer screen so continuing the appalling pic theme.....
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20180618_094711.jpg
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