SIPO on the move?

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Neil Fitzgerald
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SIPO on the move?

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Fri Jan 01, 2016 1:18 pm

Just had a new first for the garden (includes airspace above); three South Island pied oystercatchers struggling NE into strong headwind on the south side of Mt Pirongia. They were heading toward Pirongia village and tracing their path back would have them coming inland from about Kawhia.
Paul G

Re: SIPO on the move?

Postby Paul G » Fri Jan 01, 2016 7:39 pm

Just after 1600hrs today, a flock of 18 flew north from high over the Waikato River mouth, offshore up Kariotahi Beach
before turning in towards Manukau Harbour over the Awhitu Peninsula.
From their close flight formation, altitude, and focussed direction of travel, they gave the impression of being
migrants. Maybe part of the same movement you saw, Neil ?
cheers
Paul
Ian Southey
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Re: SIPO on the move?

Postby Ian Southey » Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:06 am

Paul - Your sighting is on a well known flight path and there should be quite a lot of birds moving right now when the conditions are right with flocks starting to build on the harbours. With these southerlies (tail winds) here should be quite a bit of traffic around birds continuing up the coast and some turning inland at various points to cross overland south to at least Kawhia. Mid to late morning might be a good time to watch for them but there will be some traffic at any time and you may hear them at night. Some days hundreds will pass other days none.

Neil - your birds, if the heading is maintained seem to be going toward the Bay of Plenty or Firth of Thames. Not a route I know a lot about but the wind may have affected the heading a bit.

Ian
Paul G

Re: SIPO on the move?

Postby Paul G » Sat Jan 02, 2016 7:39 am

Ian Southey wrote:Paul - Your sighting is on a well known flight path

Many thanks, Ian. Despite walking that beach nearly every day for the last ten years, I still wasn't aware of that.
So you've plugged another hole in my knowledge. Biggish flocks of Spur-Winger Plovers have been passing over in the
same direction for about a month, which I'd been thinking was odd too. My 'patch' used to have several regular watchers
but they've dwindled over the years, and now I seem to be the only regular one, so I'm a bit short on people to chat
about bird sightings with. Thanks again for the input.
Paul
Ian Southey
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Re: SIPO on the move?

Postby Ian Southey » Sat Jan 02, 2016 9:54 am

Paul

There is massive shorebird migration up and down the west coast of the North Island - for now I'm guessing most birds stage or at least overnight in the area from Nelson to Farewell Spit and leave there at or about dawn on a migration day because they seem to have a definite time window when most come past - mid to late morning is usually where the peak is but they can straggle through at any time including at night. There are more southern staging places to like the Avon-Heathcote and the estuaries of Otago and Southland but I don't know if they come up from there in one hop or easy steps - they could be the late birds.

Most come up the coast but some probably well out across the Taranaki Bight and others passing inside of Mt Taranaki and they may turn inland anywhere from at least Kawhia northward to get to places like the Firth of Thames but some appear to come overland right up the middle of the island too. They cross central Auckland too, in line with Port Waikato as it happens, right over town but mostly go unnoticed. Here in Papakura we seem to be off the flight line as we seldom hear them at home.

In the South Island they can come up either the east or west coast or from inland from right over the mountains - to a large degree they seem to follow compass lines with little deviations for topography or wind. There may also be movements from inland to coastal estuaries. I have seen birds in the Catlins that looked like they were heading to Catlins Lake.

Even on a good day they are not easy to spot but they do call occasionally. Where they fly depends partly on wind and you will often find them a km or more off shore with binocular scans but in some places they can be right in close - Taharoa was often like this, Limestone Downs they were usually further out. Height varies they can be at sea level but often they can be more than a binocular field above the horizon and a few very high, especially high when they come overland. Its amazing how well those calls carry, especially at night.

Good migration weather is as a high passes over - presumably the calm weather followed by tail winds, in a storm they can fairly zoom past with tail winds and with the exception of a few trapped by changing wind part way they don't fly in head winds. Wrybill have a tight period of movement arriving up here fairly early but SIPO run north through January and February and trickle on through March and even later. Sometimes there are strangers in the flocks - one or a few VOC, godwits, ducks etc. and we saw unexpected things like flocks of Red-billed Gulls and Little Black Shags heading south in winter and there were solo White-faced Herons moving in similar ways too.

A migration watch can have long periods of tedium but its pretty exciting when you do find the birds and on a good day there can be quite a bit of action for a few hours over the peak. Always interested to hear records of this.

Ian
Paul G

Re: SIPO on the move?

Postby Paul G » Sat Jan 02, 2016 10:19 am

Most informative Ian. Thanks for posting it in full here.
I'm sure I won't be the only one to benefit from that overview.
cheers
Paul
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Neil Fitzgerald
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Re: SIPO on the move?

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:31 pm

Ian, any idea why the birds I saw were battling head-on into a strong nor' easter? I checked wind maps, and it may have been calmer further down the west coast. Did they just get taken by surprise when they came over the hill from the coast? Seen that sort of thing before? I would have thought they would have been aware of the wind before leaving Kawhia Harbour area, or maybe even turned back when they got to me.
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Re: SIPO on the move?

Postby Ian Southey » Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:27 am

Neil

Mostly they seem to read the weather pretty well where they are but I think they sometimes leave just as the weather is about to deteriorate and get caught part way. Just a theory but I have seen them battling headwinds although the flow of birds quickly dries up when the weather's like that. Sometimes I think they just look for a good place to stop but Pirongia probably wouldn't be that. A good time to look for that stray Wrybill on your local beach although bad weather is not a prerequisite for that.

Ian
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Re: SIPO on the move?

Postby GrahameNZ » Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:22 am

Hi folks,
I don't know if this is part of the migration pattern or not but I was down South Brighton Beach, ChCh for sunrise on Jan 1.
A little before sunrise 2 groups of appx 10 SIPO in each flew past heading pretty much due north.
I thought it a bit unusual to see groups that "big" on the coast side here.
I thought they must have decided to head up to the Ashley etc, possibly not.
They were definitely going somewhere, tight formation, only a couple of calls.
Ian Southey
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Re: SIPO on the move?

Postby Ian Southey » Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:59 am

Grahame

That's migration. Wish I knew where they came from and where they were heading but maybe one day ...

Ian

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