I’ve always wanted to do a series on bird and landscape photography in the greater Wellington area.
I’ve long held the belief that the greater Wellington area is one, if not the best, birding areas in New Zealand.
There are so many options all within a few hours’ drive, in all directions other than south, you run out of dry land heading south pretty quickly LoL.
Being central, Wellington is also ideally situated to launching photographic forays to the ends of both Islands and beyond.
For the first of this series I have picked Plimmerton, a small seaside community approximately 25 minutes north of Wellington at the most southern end of the Kapiti coast and almost at the mouth of the Porirua Harbour.
Plimmerton was at one time home to my great, great, great, grandfather Te Rauparaha a fearsome tribal chief of the Ngāti Toa and man of war who then became a Christian and renounced violence for personal gain, helped build churches and became a man of God.
Plimmerton enjoys a great natural harbor, which in the 1800s, when Te Rauparaha lived there, would have provided an abundance of handy sea food for him and his tribe, this also attracts a good variety of birdlife.
Check out this website for general information about the community
Directly in front of Plimmerton lies Karehana Bay
To the south of Karehana Bay, the Pauatahanui inlet funnels and feeds out into the harbor at Parramatta .
You will be reading about the Pauatahanui inlet in the future as it is a haven for coastal and sea birds from the strong southwesters, northerlies and other foul weather that trades up and down the west coast of the southern North Island of New Zealand.
Pauatahanui is also home of the New Zealand Kookaburra club, an exclusive club of elite photographists and misfits.
Please click on the images to see a bigger version.
In winter and early spring the sun sets perfectly for Plimmerton
From a birding point of view, Plimmerton offers something special that very few other locations can, the humble and endangered species, the Shore Plover (Thinornis novaeseelandiae) or native tuturuatu.
These birds are the rarest dotteral or Plover in the world.
This is a female tuturuatu
These birds breed on the nearby Mana Island and many bird enthusiasts travel to this Island when the breeding season is in full swing by charter or private boat , however the birds winter over on the mainland and can be found outside the local fire station out on the spit at Plimmerton most days from June through November.
Very approachable and people friendly, you can get quite close to them as they rest among the rocks or forage for worms and such in the sand adjacent to the spit.
But if you disturb them too much, they will fly out to Mana Island and may not return for days so please have some consideration for these birds and other people that may want to sight them or take photographs.
The male as far as I can tell has much more distinct black head markings
Many other species of bird frequent the spit and harbour including all the 4 main species of cormorants , Caspian, white fronted and blackfronted Terns.
A Little black shag enjoys the sunshine.
very territorial these self introduced birds are a formidable challenge for wild foul and other wading birds
Canada Geese, a variety of seagulls and oyster catchers, spurwing plovers are also in residence.
I couldn’t have got a better example of a Spurwing this one is perfect, lovely spurs full mating colour the works.
Normally there is plenty to see and photograph esp at low tide and on the following incoming.
A Variable Oystercatcher in its black phase enjoys the fresh sea air.
Just south along the Highway on the left there is a pond that often has a white Heron fishing and resting during the day
Little shags frequent the spit during the day
some sad news
We have just heard that Doc may be capturing the Shore Plovers and moving them for safe keeping to mount Bruce sometime during the winter, where they will join other captive breeding pairs to participate in the breeding programe.
The reason for this is that here are only 2 breeding pairs left at mana Island and only 12 in total on the mainland of new Zealand in the wild.
Doc hopes to re-release these 2 pairs later in 2015 along with a few more juveniles.
It appears that uncaring locals run their dogs off the leash in the area these bird rest and feed in and we just cannot risk anymore loses esp after the rat managed to devastate the breeding population on the Island its self, several years ago.
It is sad to see these bird being locked up but its for the best in the long run, so get in quick as when these bird will be re-released they will be encouraged not to winter over on the mainland.
Some exciting news
I have just joined forces with Chris Helliwell of NZ Exposed and we will be running photographic workshops so keep your eye out for more news in the near future, we already have some workshop booked out with others waiting, so it looks like it could be a busy summer for us and we are up to the task and really looking forward to meeting lots of lovely people.
so if your in the area keep a sharp eye out for these little critters