Big Sand Island

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phil hammond
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Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:10 pm

Big Sand Island

Postby phil hammond » Sat Sep 29, 2018 12:00 pm

Not a very big tide at Big Sand yesterday--4.1--but still plenty of birds, although most of the smaller waders and Little Terns are still not here. At the north end;

R Knot------not counted---about 300-400
NZ Dott----15
M Lapwing-12
P Stilt------9
Kelp Gull---17
Black bill G-7
Caspian Tern-21
Little Tern--2

The Little Terns were moulting out of breeding plumage with black loral lines gone and receded crowns, but with more than 50% of their bills still showing some yellow

This is the first time I have been to Big Sand and not seen a single WF Tern ---obviously away breeding elsewhere. Also no Banded Dotts seen. and no birds at all in the sarcocornia across from the the causeway

Phil Hammond
Wrybill Birding Tours NZ
Great Birds, Real Birders
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Location: Torbay.

Re: Big Sand Island

Postby zarkov » Sat Sep 29, 2018 4:45 pm

Fairly big numbers of WF Terns breeding at Muriwai gannet colony.
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Re: Big Sand Island

Postby RussCannings » Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:37 pm

Thanks for the update Phil. Interesting that the 2 Greater Sand Plovers that were still present in June were not there. Maybe at the south end? Or perhaps dispersed a bit with the bandies. Always great to hear from the Kaipara.
phil hammond
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Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:10 pm

Re: Big Sand Island

Postby phil hammond » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:41 pm

No Russ, no sign of the Sand Plovers, despite hopeful examination of each of the Dotts.

They were also not seen, at least not at the North end, at the OSNZ census 16/6/18. I have not checked the census data to see if they were picked up somewhere else.
phil hammond
Posts: 347
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:10 pm

Re: Big Sand Island

Postby phil hammond » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:09 pm

I have been talking to Tony Habraken who has been studying Little Terns in NZ for a very long time and he has convinced me that rather than new arrivals from East asia part way out of their breeding plumage the 2 Little Terns at big Sand are almost certainly Austral breeders partway INTO their breeding plumage.

The reasoning being that the first arrivals of this species from the northern hemisphere [most of our Little Terns are northern hemisphere breeders] would not normally be here for another 3 weeks or so and more importantly when they do get here they have already lost all of the yellow on their bills ---you can see them getting some yellow on their bills before they leave in autumn but when they come back in spring the yellow has already gone

Will these be the only 2 Austral bred Little Terns in NZ this year ? ---happy to be corrected

One of them on Friday was a bit odd with what looked like a longer, finer bill than the other and may be a bird that has been followed by small Tern enthusiasts for 2 or 3 years, and one of them may have been the one we saw at distance up there during the OSNZ winter census

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