Winter is definitely here even if we didn’t seem to have had a summer in Auckland. The effects of the frequent strong northeasterly blows can be seen everywhere with beach erosion and piles of debris washed high up the beaches. The Weiti chenier was particularly hard hit with a breach formed at the northern end of the lagoon, which has now become tidal and salty.
Although our temperatures are still unseasonably warm , the birds know it’s winter: the kuaka/godwits have left for Alaska via the Yellow Sea to breed during the northern summer, although nine have remained to overwinter with us. These birds are probably one year-olds who didn’t quite get into breeding condition. The tõrea/South Island Pied Oyster flock has built up to between two and three hundred. This species winters in the north after breeding on the braided rivers of the South Island and Hawke Bay. The numbers are a bit down on the long running average, but when the winter finally arrives more may move further north.
The photo shows the tōrea flock on Karepiro Beach. The tōrea pango/variable oystercatcher, poaka/pied stilt, and tūtiriwhatu/NZ dotterel are starting to form winter flocks with 29, 39, and 24 birds respectively.
The BIG news is that the pāteke pair are back.
I thought we’d lost them, partly because of the cat problem last season, but mainly because of the change in the lagoon. Tidal salt water inlets are no good for pāteke. But no, they’ve returned and are hanging out on the little fresh water creek that flows in from the south. We still haven’t heard back from council whether we can resume live-trapping of wandering cats from Stillwater. Despite the fact council is obliged to undertake cat trapping at this type of site in at least three bits of legislation, they tell us they have no money to do so and are stopping us carrying out this necessary work. We have offered to undergo any training necessary to meet all conditions that council contractors have to meet. This pair of pāteke are self-introduced and are the only mainland breeding pair outside translocated populations. If you feel as outraged as we are you should let your local board representatives know.