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I share colouring pages index:

Banded dotterel

Pohowera, the banded dotterel, is smaller than the endangered New Zealand dotterel. During the breeding season banded dotterels are widespread on mainland New Zealand. Birds that breed in lowland South Island and central New Zealand rivers generally move north to “winter” at harbours and estuaries of the upper North Island. We have had several here in Snells Beach that migrated from Kaikoura for the late summer and winter. The longest known banded dotterel migrations are those undertaken by birds that breed in the South Island high country, many of which migrate 1600 km or more to Tasmania and south-eastern mainland Australia for winter.

Pohowera based on photograph by Simon Runting.

Bar-tailed godwits foraging

Bar-tailed godwits or kūaka take the longest non-stop flight of any non-seabird with no chance to stop and feed along the way. Virtually all the birds that come to New Zealand breed in western Alaska, completing 8-9 days of straight flight. When they arrive here, generally in September, they are exhausted and hungry. They congregate in flocks at high tide roosts, and spread out to feed. They can be extremely wary birds, often difficult to closely approach. Giving them space to rest and feed is important to the continued survival of this amazing bird.

Kūaka toro kai based on photograph by Jackie Russel

Bar-tailed godwits in flight

In history, it was thought that the kūaka came from, or passed through, the ancestral home Hawaiiki and were believed to accompany the spirits of the departed. Kūaka on the wing are known as “waka kūaka”. During daylight the ancestors followed the course of the flight in their canoes. In the night the ancestors would listen for the cries of the kūaka above the fleet of canoes and so be guided by them.

Waka kūaka base on photograph by Jackie Russel

Bar-tailed godwits roosting

For Maori, the kūaka was a bird of mystery for, in spite of it coming to Aotearoa New Zealand in late spring/early summer when other birds are nesting, it does not nest here. Hence the whakatauki: Kua kite te kohanga kūaka? (proverb: Who has seen the nest of the kūaka?)


Blackbacked gull and shark

Karoro, the blackbacked gull, and mangō the shark are featured in this drawing. Typically we share the bay with some sharks, many quite small, but this unfortunate individual is about to become a meal for a blackbacked gull.

Karoro and mangō based on photograph by Denise Poyner.

Caspian tern

Taranui, or the Caspian tern, appears to be expressing something. What do you think it may be expressing?


Caspian tern and SIPO

This taranui (Caspian tern) and tōrea (South Island pied oystercatcher) seem to be having a little disagreement. The Caspian terns nest is a shallow scrape in sand or shingle. Eggs are laid from late September through to late December. Chicks are fed whole regurgitated fish. They feed mostly on small surface-swimming fish such as yellow-eyed mullet, piper, and smelt. The South Island pied oystercatcher (SIPO) has conspicuous black and white plumage and long red bill. It is found on most estuaries, with numbers greatest during the period December to July. Fewer birds remain in coastal areas during the rest of the year, with most of the population moving to inland South Island riverbeds and farmland to breed. In coastal areas SIPOs feed mainly on molluscs and worms, and bivalves; other prey in coastal areas include crustaceans, cnidarians and fish. On wet pasture in coastal areas they feed mainly on earthworms and beetle larvae.

Taranui and tōrea based on photograph by Simon Runting.

Caspian tern with piper

Taranui, or the Caspian tern, hunt for small surface-swimming fish such as yellow-eyed mullet, piper, and smelt. Fish are caught by plunge-diving and usually swallowed in flight. This individual has caught a takeke or piper fish, also known as ihe or garfish. Interestingly the takeke have some control over their coloration!

Taranui and takeke based on photograph by Simon Runting.

Heron and pipi

This clever heron has stolen a pipi! Foraging white-faced herons typically walk slowly with long, controlled steps, watching for any signs of prey, which is then grabbed with lightning speed. Like the kingfisher, they regurgitate a pellet of indigestible parts of their prey. White-faced herons catch and consume a wide range of prey, including small fish, crabs, worms, insects, spiders, mice, lizards, tadpoles and frogs.

Matuku moana and pipi based on photograph by Simon Runting.

Kingfisher with crab

This kotare, sacred kingfisher, has caught a pāpaka, crab! The NZ sacred kingfisher is a cousin of the kookaburra in Australia. Despite it's name, the kingfisher don’t just eat fish; they eat skinks, silvereyes, spiders, earthworms, mice and crabs among other things! Kingfisher have been known to fling their prey against fence-posts, or against tree trunks, after the shell has been broken up, the crab goes ‘down-in-one’ and then the indigestible portions of shell are vomited up later (called a pellet).

Kotare and pāpaka based on photograph by Simon Stuart.

Kingfisher with whitebait

A kotare, sacred kingfisher, has caught an inanga (white bait). Common and widely distributed. Kingfishers congregate in coastal districts and lowlands during winter. Snells Beach School and Whitebait Connection (WBC) have been working to re-establish the whitebait population in our stream. WBC Auckland have been collaborating with many other stakeholders in the Mahurangi River catchment including Mahurangi Action Group, New Zealand Premium Whitebait, Wai Care and Ngati Manuhiri on various projects including Native Fish Discovery Nights and regional hui and wananga.

Kotare and inanga based on photograph by Simon Stuart.

Little black shag and heron

Matuku moana and kawau tūi appear to be having a lively discussion. The little black shag is less common to see in the area, but have been observed. I have seen them on the Mahurangi harbour side of Snells Beach. They forage co-operatively, herding and encircling shoals of small fish.

Matuku moana and kawau tūi based on photograph by Simon Runting

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