Well it’s the start of Autumn here in New Zealand , this means that the migratory birds that have summered over here from the northern hemisphere are preparing to head back to their breeding grounds after gorging on the summer feast or worms and insects and shellfishes.
The grand daddy’s of the migratory birds has to be the kuaka or bar-tailed Godwit and its smaller traveling buddy the smaller lesser Knots that accompany them .
These birds travel over 11,000 kilometres from Alaska to reach New Zealand stopping over in Asia for a quick breather along the way.
This massive migration takes them less than 10 days to complete which is simply amazing and during that little effort they will lose half their body weight arriving here skinny and hungry.
Before these migratories return north, they start the breeding colour phase , turning from a rather drab brownish grey into brilliant orange tones.
A lesser Knot in breeding colours
Living in Wellington the kuaka settle into the estuaries along the Kapiti and Manawatu coasts with the majority being at Foxton at the river mouth of the Manawatu river.
Having missed last year we decided to go and have a look at the birds as they will be leaving soon and see how their colour phase was progressing.
Daylight at the Manawatu Estuary dawned with patchy cloud and sporadic bursts of sunlight on the huddled crowd of birds on the tidal edge.
Getting close to these birds is not easy.
They are jumpy and fly off at the least provocation often setting back down further along the water’s edge.
Hawks circling overhead often cause the whole flock to take off, do a circuit and return to their resting place.
Some of the birds were showing quite a bit of colour while others were not showing much at all.
We tried to get as close as we could without causing too much distress to the birds, got our photos and decided to leave them be and look for other birds of interest.
Pacific Golden plovers were next on the menu and these birds are more skittish than the goblets.
I got a few half decent images before they took flight landing further along from me.
my normal shot of flying golden plovers, always away from me lol
Walking along back to the wagon we counted 81 banded dotterels resting in the sand and among them 3 sharp tailed sandpipers.
The big long slow crawl along the sand was on and I managed to get really close to these birds and photograph them and I ended up with my best shots of sharp tails to date.
Male and female sharptails
It was now mid-morning so it was decided that we would head south towards home to check out some dabchicks that had chicks on the way.
The dab chicks were in fine form and paraded around me as I lay under the wooden hide clickerty clicking away trying hard to look like a support post for the wooden construction.
A baby weiweia or New Zealand dabchick is a pretty tiny bundle of softness
Soon it was time to head home, back to the computer and photoshop.
Once upon a time I never realised just how many migratory birds we receive each summer until I was captured by bird photography.
So many birds still left to hunt for and experience.