Waikato Perambulations

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RussCannings
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Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:23 am

Waikato Perambulations

Postby RussCannings » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:40 am

Hi all,

Have been regrettably negligent of late to post anything on my birding over the past few months--I suppose that's what a 6month old does to you!

AC's comment about the potentially dying art of exploration when it comes to birding struck a chord with me--as that is currently my favourite aspect of birding in NZ. Coming from Canada, I dearly miss the very obvious seasonal migration of passerines and non-passerines alike--which makes patch birding so addictive. Visit your local domain every day in April for example and you'll come up with a different list every time. Therefore in NZ I've shifted more to a "where have I not been yet" or "where might be good that no one regularly checks?" type of mode. This gives all the 'regular' birds a fresh context since they're in a completely new location to me. I also feel like it's a great warm up for the breeding bird atlas, when I'm sure all of us will be aiming to get out to those under-trodden paths to see what might be about.

Anyway, two locations that I've recently visited that I felt were worth mentioning:

1) Kennedy Bay (Coromandel)--
Kennedy Bay.PNG
Kennedy Bay.PNG (692.14 KiB) Viewed 222 times

One of the more remote settlements on the peninsula, this east coast bay is a fabulous place for a weekend away or a longer retreat. It's about a 25min drive of windy sealed/unsealed road NE of Coromandel Town, but once you get there you don't have to move around much at all. The bay itself seems to attract good numbers of tern, gull, and shearwater flocks (coming right into the bay) working bait fish at this time of year, and even better were around 10 skuas working the flocks including 1 adult POMARINE in addition to a variety of plumaged Arctic Skuas. Both NZ and Banded Dots patrolled the beaches and the creek mouths provide a great opportunity to study WF Tern plumages in detail (and anything else that might join in?).

While the Bay and beach (including swimming) is fantastic, my favourite part of birding Kennedy Bay was along the stream inland from the beach/spit. The lower tidal part of the stream is mostly sand flats and mangroves which probably attract a few arctic waders on passage but at this time of year it's mostly oystercatchers. The highlight in the offseason here is a WHITE HERON that locals reckon has been around for at least the past 4 years. Even better is the stream as it winds west (upstream) from the main road. If you're staying in a local batch with kayaks, or you can bring your own--do it! While some stretches wind through rough farm paddocks, there is a wonderful stretch that winds through conservation land where all you can see is the river and native bush. This mix of manuka swamp and mixed woodland gives you a feel for the primeval as there are no signs of human habitation in sight. From my kayak I floated past several groups of BROWN TEAL (20+ in total) and even spotted a FERNBIRD foraging in the open on the river bank. The kingfisher numbers were truly impressive and both Tui and Bellbird could be heard singing and seen criss-crossing the river. What a place!

2) Wairiri Falls--Much less off the beaten track (being so close to Matamata and fairly well-known) but this was actually the first time I'd visited (yesterday). It has to be one of the more impressive falls in NZ--tumbling 153m from high in the Kaimais into some splendid regenerating bush. I wasn't sure what to expect birdwise given how quiet some of the forest is in this area, but was quite impressed in the end with good numbers of Tui and Bellbird seen along the walk, 4-5 singing robins, a number of tomtit in the higher reaches of the track, and best of all--a group of 5+ WHITEHEAD just above the first bridge and a single RIFLEMAN just below that bridge. A single KAKA flew over during the hike, and perhaps the most surprising bird of all was a ROYAL SPOONBILL seen flying north toward Te Aroha (over the carpark)--my first for the Matamata-Piako District.

So there are two of my favourite recent excursions with the family. Hope you enjoy exploring your patch and beyond this autumn and winter! :)

Russ Cannings
Morrinsville, NZ
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TheBirderman
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Re: Waikato Perambulations

Postby TheBirderman » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:18 am

Hi Russ

This is perfect timing since our crew over here are heading to the waikato this weekend so we will definitely check these sites out!

Cheers
TheBirderMan, Tommy, ( ͡° ω ͡° )
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David Riddell
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Re: Waikato Perambulations

Postby David Riddell » Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:45 am

That's a good list from Wairere Falls Russ. Above the falls is good for whitehead, robins and riflemen (and surprisingly different in character from the track below the falls, it's worth exploring a bit once you've done all that climbing), but below the falls I've never seen more than one robin at a time, only occasionally come across whitehead, and never seen a rifleman. The kaka's also quite a bonus. I wonder if there's been some pest control in the area?
Davidthomas
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Re: Waikato Perambulations

Postby Davidthomas » Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:51 pm

There also used to be a reasonable population of Kakariki in the tops behind Wairiri falls, along with Forest Ringlet butterflies.
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David Riddell
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Re: Waikato Perambulations

Postby David Riddell » Sun Apr 14, 2019 4:18 pm

I saw a couple of forest ringlets there in January 2016, but haven't managed to make it back at the right time of year since then. Hope they're still hanging on.
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