MIRANDA from 2020

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Grahame
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Re: MIRANDA from 2020

Postby Grahame » Wed Mar 25, 2020 12:55 pm

Just two of us at Miranda this morning. We were treated to good views of the Hudwit being attacked by several Barwits giving great views of it in flight as well as on the ground. A Broad-bill was conveniently at the front of the Waybill flock, all this from the main hide. Four Sharpies on the stilt ponds, and a possible sighting of the Sand Plover by Paul just before it took flight. I would just like to publicly say how grateful I was to have Paul with me, probably due to my cardiac problem, I threw a wobbly and might not have got through without him, he even followed me home to keep an eye on me. Many thanks Paul.
Ian Southey
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Re: MIRANDA from 2020

Postby Ian Southey » Sat May 16, 2020 10:56 pm

This afternoon an adult Black-fronted Dotterel flew in just in front of the stilt hide and stayed for a minute or two before flying on.

Ian
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Oscar Thomas
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Re: MIRANDA from 2020

Postby Oscar Thomas » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:24 pm

At Miranda today there was a near-pure Black Stilt, two other mostly-black hybrids and a couple dozen smudgy Pied ones. While counting the Wrybill flock from my photos using photoshop's 'count' tool (approx 1850), one appeared to have a patterned back which I believe to be an overwintering Red-necked Stint, or maybe even a long-staying Broad-billed Sandpiper. What do others think? It was also great to meet Bob as well as another keen younger birder out today Leo, and his mum Pam.

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Brent Stephenson
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Re: MIRANDA from 2020

Postby Brent Stephenson » Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:02 pm

Hey Oscar,

I think the peep looks a bit too large for either of those birds in body size, compared to the wrybill? I wonder if it is a curlew sand perhaps sunk into the mud showing shorter legs? The greyish face that seems to be there would fit better also. I note all of the godwit have sunk into the mud and are showing shorter legs. But pretty hard from this image, are there recent sightings of the BBSP?

With regards to the stilt, regardless of the fact it appears almost all black, I would have thought it can't be put down as a black stilt on the basis that it is unbanded (didn't say that in your post, but does in the eBird lists submitted). I was under the impression that ALL 'real' black stilts are colour-banded? So should this not be reported as a Pied x Black (hybrid) in both eBird and here? Just asking the question more for clarity than anything else.

Nice spotting!
Cheers,
Brent Stephenson
Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ - Great birds, real birders
Grahame
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Re: MIRANDA from 2020

Postby Grahame » Fri Sep 04, 2020 12:36 pm

Miranda has been very quiet of late apart from an increase in Godwits. However, today there was one F e Curlew. There is a chance that the Broad b Sandpiper was there, but the heat haze prevented a decent view. The Great Egret was posing nicely by the path. Couldn't resist a poor phone photo of it.
Grahame
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RussCannings
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Re: MIRANDA from 2020

Postby RussCannings » Wed Sep 23, 2020 11:56 am

Far Eastern Curlew there at high tide today (Wed) along with 4 golden plover adults (new?)

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RussCannings
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Re: MIRANDA from 2020

Postby RussCannings » Mon Oct 05, 2020 4:58 pm

Felt summery out at the hide today though the main flocks were far away in the shellbank.

2 Curlew
1 Black-tailed Godwit (non-breeding plumage)
3 turnstone
6+ golden plovers
4 NZ Dots
1 kotuku (Great Egret)

And the usuals. Like my visit last week no evident wrybill.

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Oscar Thomas
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Re: MIRANDA from 2020

Postby Oscar Thomas » Mon Oct 05, 2020 8:12 pm

Brent Stephenson wrote:With regards to the stilt, regardless of the fact it appears almost all black, I would have thought it can't be put down as a black stilt on the basis that it is unbanded (didn't say that in your post, but does in the eBird lists submitted). I was under the impression that ALL 'real' black stilts are colour-banded? So should this not be reported as a Pied x Black (hybrid) in both eBird and here? Just asking the question more for clarity than anything else.


Apologies I never got around to responding to you Brent. Here is some information I could find online.

Though somewhat out of date, this is from a past recovery plan: "Little is known of pied stilt migratory routes. 10% of the black stilt population migrate with pied and hybrid stilts to North Island harbours each year. Some are known (from bands) to have come from the Mackenzie Basin. No information is available on nesting areas, mates and annual movements of most black stilts (unbanded) found on northern harbours in winter." - https://www.doc.govt.nz/globalassets/do ... srp04a.pdf

All birds released from the captive unit are colour banded, as well as juveniles that are reared in the wild by known pairs (https://www.otago.ac.nz/wildlife/otago016043.pdf). There are likely birds nesting in the wild in areas that are either not monitored, too difficult to access, or just in locations that are unknown. These places could be responsible for producing/obscuring the North Island migratory birds. While the bird I photographed at Miranda may have Pied stilt genes, It is within range for a bird that is 95-100% kaki - whereas at least 50 of the 'Pied Stilts' I saw that day were phenotypically 5-50% kaki. So unless these birds also get reported as Pied x Black (hybrid) I see no reason to call the kaki that as well. Some hybrids in NZ are too difficult to even identify in the field, VOC x SIPO I don't think has a reliable method. In my eyes, if it is clearly +90% one species (a similar argument to Grey Duck here: https://ebird.org/newzealand/news/grey_ducks) I think we should simplify things and report it as being that species. The phenotypes don't always align to % parent sp. either of course, as shown by the recent Grey Duck data collected by Fish & Game. Keen to hear others thoughts on this!
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RussCannings
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Re: MIRANDA from 2020

Postby RussCannings » Mon Oct 05, 2020 10:24 pm

An interesting discussion topic Oscar, and one that has parallels to other hybrid swarms overseas (For British Colombians it's Glaucous-winged and Western Gulls). There are two main aspects to this topic as outlined by Oscar which I'll treat separately:

1) Black Silt dispersal to the North Island: There will undoubtedly be more qualified experts to weigh in here, but to me the notion that 10% of pure kaki still annually migrate to the North Island post-breeding is undoubtedly a thing of the past. In the middle of the 20th century when Kawhia Habour (Waikato west coast) hosted as many as 50 kaki, my understanding is that the Kawhia, Manukau, and Kaipara Harbours were considered the primary wintering sites for north-bound kaki, and no doubt that is where the DOC quote comes from. Those three harbours are still regularly monitored and yet only Kawhia still occassionally turns up a pure-looking kaki (though none in the past 2 years), and all Kawhia kaki from the past decade (to my knowledge) have been colour-banded. I am not personally aware of a pure-looking phenotype (ie no atypical white in lores, vent, or flanks etc) being seen on the North Island in the past 10 years that was not also banded. I may very well have missed one or more (especially pre 2015), but it definitely seems like the days of unbanded pure kaki are close to finished (if not already so). Could a pure unbanded kaki hide out in a remote part of the country? Absolutely, but again--to my knowledge, no one has proven that that happens. I've often wondered if the very black hybrids (like the Miranda bird in question) migrate annually from the South Island (ie closer to the source), as they definitely are much more commonly seen in winter in the Waikato. But then I saw one on a remote creek in the Waitomo area (paired with a Pied) so perhaps we're just picking them up when they congregate in easy to access estuaries etc in the winter. So I guess in sum here, I think we can all agree that if unbanded pure kaki exist, they are very rare (even in the south), and one would hope it was a slam dunk phenotype to prove its status.

2) Status quo concerning what counts as a full species (on a list) vs just a hybrid at one end of the spectrum: It's a fair point to observe that many NZ (and international) birders likely record "Mallard" or "Pied Stilt" on their ebird apps each day (or whatever way one records their sightings), despite some being hybrids, and this doesn't seem to stir up much discussion. This might be out of ignorance, laziness, or apathy, or just a sense that you're doing what most people do. Firstly, listing is a personal thing, so who cares what another person does right? But clearly the main difference between misrecording a hybrid stilt as a Pied (or a hybrid "greyllard" as a Mallard) vs calling it a kaki or Grey Duck comes down to rarity. We KNOW kaki are rare and endangered and therefore put more care into our identification. What separates kaki even from the scarce Grey Duck is that kaki are so rare in fact that 99+% are colour banded. If we could some how colour band all pure Grey Ducks I'm sure we'd get less reports on ebird, but that's just not possible. So what is the solution? Do we call all stilts hybrids or 'unknown Pied/Black' unless they are banded with confirmed birth certificates? Do we just ignore the hybrid tag, and just call it whatever it mostly resembles? Personally, I think we should always do our best to be as specific as possible within our own capabilities. So if you believe something is a hybrid (based on observable traits) call it a hybrid. If you're not sure, say you're unsure. If you think it's a pure XXXX call it that, but if it's rare or endangered, be prepared to argue your case to the appropriate record keepers. In the case of kaki, it seems most NZers follow the 'all black and colour-banded (with follow up)' rule and that seems pretty clear cut. Could more NZers more accurately report hybrid stilts and ducks? Heck ya. So do it if you feel comfortable. Educate others as you go, and listen to experts, read the science, and all that jazz.

This is a long way of saying, if it's identifiable as a hybrid, call it a hybrid. And while very black, the Miranda bird is almost surely a hybrid, and has been present for 4+ winters. I have also also seen similarly intriguing stilts in the Tauranga and Kaipara Harbours. Who are their parents? Where do they go in summer? I do not know, but the damn things have white flecking in places that do not help my list sadly!

**As a sidenote, knowing what we know now about "very black but still hybrid stilts", I wonder how legitimate the North Island kaki counts from the 50s-70s are? I have seen one notebook from a well respected (late) Waikato naturalist that might indicate, by present day standards, as many as half the Kawhia Black Stilts could have been hybrids (based on their description of white vents/lores etc).

That's enough from me. Looking forward to hearing other's thoughts.

Russ C
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phil hammond
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Re: MIRANDA from 2020

Postby phil hammond » Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:19 pm

Pukorokoro Miranda and Kawhia are of course salt water sites but the best candidates for Black Stilt that I've seen in the NI were both in fresh water. One that hung around Mangere 17 years ago favoured the storage basin and other fresh water, and also there was (maybe still is) a little fresh water Swamp on a farm on the South Kaipara peninsula that was well known for dark stilts and I remember 1 maybe 2 that looked to be all dark amongst 4 or 5 other Stilts that were more obviously hybrids The farmer let's OSNZs in twice a year on census day
So perhaps yes there are some other little wetlands tucked away with all dark stilts?

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