The Birds New Zealand, Auckland branch beach patrol of Muriwai Beach in Saturday 15 December, found 20 birds, but with an impressive diversity of 11 species.The birds found were: 1 Blue Penguin, 1 Black Browed Albatross, 1 White Chinned Petrel, 1 Grey Petrel, 1 Mottled Petrel, 6 Sooty Shearwater, 3 Short Tailed Shearwater, 2 Fluttering Shearwater, 2 Common Diving Petrel, 1 White Fronted Tern & 1 Black Backed Gull. The White Chinned Petrel, was the first one I had ever seen & was quite a large & impressive bird.
Most of the birds had been dead for a week or more & may have been the victim of the severe storms that we had off the west Auckland coast last week. Many where full of fly maggots, beetles & sand hoppers etc which made for a very smelly & unpleasant task in identifying them, although any entomologist would have found the insect life very interesting !
The poor condition of the birds, had us relying on bill profile cards, instead of also using many of the excellent reference books that we had with us, as no one wanted to get their expensive books dirty ! As a result a couple of birds got mis-identified, with the Mottled Petrel mistaken for a Kerguelan Petrel & the White Chinned Petrel (which only had two or three white feathers) being mistaken for a Westland Petrel. Fortunately some kind advice on the identity of the birds was provided & the errors were realised, but a valuable lesson was learnt in that using all the available reference material is always best !
General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
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