Today was the winter Kawhia/Aotea Harbour Census and since it wasn't kicking off until 11am I headed to the coast early to get in some extra birding.
Started off at Ruapuke Beach and Ruapuke Rock (SW of Mt Karioi) and enjoyed one of the better seawatches I've had off the Waikato west coast. By "better" I mean--"not horrible". Typically I'm happy to spot a few Fluttering Shearwaters and some distant gannets but thanks to some stiff westerlies overnight and a few latent breezes in the morning, I was heartened when the first bird that came into the scope was a Buller's Albatross! There seemed to be a lot of tern and gannet action several kilometers out but it was near impossible to identify anything other than gannets and WFTs. After around 50 minutes of scoping I ended up with the following:
White-capped Albatross- 5
Buller's Albatross- 1
Prion sp.- 5 (Probably Fairy but who knows--maybe actually Antarctic?--Too far out and likely more among the bait balls near Gannet Island)
Fluttering Shearwater- 100 (Conservative, following bait balls in distance)
Shearwater sp.- 1 (Appeared larger and darker)
Common Diving Petrel- 1
Australasian Gannet- 75+ (All adults)
Black-backed Gull- 8
White-fronted Tern- 250+ (Conservative)
From there I worked my way south along the Aotea Harbour to Kawhia. Lots of the usual estuary birds including 34 spoonbill but was particularly pleased to come across a male tomtit in a patch of native bush near the SE corner of the Aotea Harbour.
Met up with Bruce Postill and the gang in Kawhia and was on the Te Motu Island team. While there was virtually nothing on the island itself (Let alone any kaki), the sandbanks in front were productive with unusual additions to the godwits and sipo being 1 turnstone and 1 whimbrel. The latter bird had no pale contrast whatsoever in the rump which possibly suggests hudsonicus (North American variety)--but I understand this is variable? No photographs of the bird in flight sadly. Also 8 NZ Dot and around 380 Bandies.
And that was about it. On the way home I bumped into Bob R at Lake Ngaroto where 3 Cattle Egrets were on show north of the lake (Down from the 20+ that are usually around).
Hope you all had a great weekend
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