Auckland area – 24-26 May 2002
Well this weekend started out with big plans to try and locate several birds that are missing off my New Zealand list. The recent talk about black kite, sanderling and kookaburras certainly stimulated a bit of organisation prior to the already planned trip for non-birding affairs.
On the way up on Friday (24 May) we called in checked out the Mangatawhiri area for galahs, but as the paddocks of maize in the area had not yet been harvested I didn’t hold out much hope, and we were unsuccessful in locating any birds – have there been any recent sightings of these birds following breeding?
We then headed up Koheroa Road towards Mercer to look for the black kite. We stopped near the junction of Kellyville and Koheroa road, on the top of the ridge as described in David Lawrie’s email from a week or so ago. The best spot I found was about 150m down Kellyville Road from the junction and there is an area by a gate with enough room to pull of the road. Sitting on top of this ridge gives a great view out over the surrounding area, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best, with very strong westerlies and heavy rain at times. We saw about 5 harriers in the area, but nothing kite looking, so after about 40 minutes and some slow cruising around the area headed for Auckland.
The following morning (Sat 25 May) I headed for the Wainui area (between Kaukapakapa and Silverdale, north of Auckland) before light, in search of kookaburras. I checked all of the roads that Jim Doidge mentioned in his email of 13/05, around Wainui, Silverdale, without success. However, plenty of their smaller cousins (kingfishers) and other Aussies – magpies, Eastern rosellas and spur-winged plovers. After a frustrating 3 hours I decided to head for the Matakana area, where Kath Shurcliff had suggested a couple of sites after seeing my email request to the group for more info. I have driven the Matakana Road several times before, but hadn’t seen any kooks, but this time luck was on my side (yes it happens occasionally David!). As I turned into Anderson Road I was surprised to see a kookaburra sitting on the powerlines just back down the road – I had just driven past it! (Grid ref E26615.4/S65355.2) The bird stayed long enough for a couple of record shots to be taken – with starlings lined up beside it on the powerlines! It then headed across the paddock to a small patch of bush (situated right beside a house). The bird was in the same area as described by Kath, so they may be resident in this area.
The following day (Sun 26 May) I accompanied David Lawrie and Emma to the Karaka shellbanks to try my luck at the sanderling that had been there during the latter part of the summer and had been last seen there on 21 April. I was hopeful that it might still be around, but wasn’t holding my breath. Again it was windy, cold and we were a little cool sitting on the shellbanks watching the waders come in to roost as the tide came in. It took a while to scan the waders, most of which were a wee way off, but we managed to spot the Asiatic whimbrel amongst the knot and godwit and I was able to pick out the gleaming white ‘bum’ and flanks of the sanderling as it sat facing into the wind, away from us! Got distant but recognisable views of it hoping around before it flew, showing the broad white wing-bar (just as I turned away!). As the tide receded we scoped the area and dispersing knot but were unable to locate it again…oh well there’s always next summer for a better view!
Later that day as we headed back to Napier/Palmerston North, we stopped in at the black kite site again. Despite better weather still no sign of anything other than harriers.