Author Archives: terakau

Fire damage to our plantings

Very sad to report to all our Friends of Onoke Spit that a fire on Friday evening April 3 has quite extensively damaged our newly planted areas. The fire seems to have started from someone lighting a camp fire and the wind blowing the fire into our newly planted plots. Being so dry the fire spread very quickly and just shows how careful we must be when lighting fires outdoors when things are this dry.
We won’t know the full extent of the damage for a while as we are hoping that with some rain the plants just may revive. So let’s all pray for rain soon!
The pictures below give you a fairly good idea of what has happened.

Site of original campfire which started the whole thing

Site of original campfire which started the whole thing


Fire damage in planted area

Fire damage in planted area

Fire crews still dampening down next morning

Fire crews still dampening down next morning

Looking back from Beach Road next morning

Looking back from Beach Road next morning

Bitterns aplenty

Dougal was checking the traps around the Pounui Lagoons and saw not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 bitterns.
Here are a couple of the best pictures.

Trying to hide

Trying to hide


Just caught a fish!

Just caught a fish!

Dead birds and cat tracks

We were recently alerted by a local resident to a very sad sight. A number of dead white fronted terns had been killed at the end of Onoke Spit quite close to the Lake Ferry Hotel. Surrounding the remains of these birds we found a number of cat tracks in the sand. We also sighted a feral cat hiding under some driftwood with a cache of bird remains.
Needless to say we have set 2 further predator traps in the area and hope soon to give you the good news that the hunter has been eliminated.

Remains of white fronted terns on Onoke Spit

Remains of white fronted terns on Onoke Spit

White Front Terns 240315

Another bittern sighting

When Dougal was checking the traps around the Pounui Lagoons yesterday he sighted another bittern.
Bitterns are able to be sighted more easily at the moment because the water level in the lagoons is very high because the mouth of the Ruamahanga river has been closed for a number of weeks. The Onoke Spit at the Lake Ferry end has built by southerly swells up and hence the river mouth is blocked. This closure leads to a back log of water as the streams and rivers are unable to flow out to sea. Good for waterfowl but not so good for waders as the mudflats are all under water.
IMG_0242 bittern

Birding at Wairau Lagoon

What a wonderful couple of days Dougal and I have just had being hosted by Will and Rose Parsons at Driftwood Retreat near Blenheim.This is a very ancient and beautiful part of NZ and well a visit
We were really privileged to be taken out in kayaks on the Wairau Lagoon by Will for an evening tour to watch the wading birds of the lagoon area feeding. It was truly a magical experience to see so many birds and get so close to them because of the stealth and familiarity of the kayaks. We would highly recommend this trip to all bird lovers. To find out more go to driftwoodecotours.co.nz.
Here are some of Dougal’s pictures from the trip.

Spotted Shags roosting on driftwood

Spotted Shags roosting on driftwood

Godwits gathering in Wairau Lagoon

Godwits gathering in Wairau Lagoon

South Island pied oyster catcher dealing to a pipi

South Island pied oyster catcher dealing to a pipi

Pied stilt feeding

Pied stilt feeding


Will and I sharing bird stories over dinner

Will and I sharing bird stories over dinner

No breeding luck for our Caspian Terns again

CAspian terns 1
While the terns had a couple of goes at nesting this summer it now looks like they have left the Spit and given up for another year.
We are at a loss to know the reasons this time as the weather has been settled since before Xmas and the predator control has been working efficiently.
The black backed gulls have had another very successful breeding season and their numbers are definitely increasing.
Is there any connection? Maybe we need to find out more?
Enjoy the rest of this wonderful summer.

Some summer delights

Wow what a summer we are having and while we are loving the warm weather the birds are feeling the heat around our garden. We have so enjoyed watching them feed and come in to our many bird baths either to drink or bathe.
Below are some of Dougal’s pictures over this holiday time.IMG_0021
Tui enjoying pohutukawa

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Kereru drinking

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Bellbird

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Bellbird bathing

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Young tui

Dotterels and Pests

The resilient banded dotterels are nesting on Onoke Spit at present and Dougal has been checking the traps regularly. These birds use camouflage as there protection but predators such as rats have a very good sense of smell so they can find eggs and newly fledged chicks very easily. A dead rat means more live dotterels for us to enjoy.

IMG_0015 rat
One dead rat!
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The art of camouflage
IMG_0021dott nest

Tui heaven

Te Rakau is alive with tui at the moment. There is plenty of food for them with pohutukawa flowers just coming out and the flax buds are bursting through as well.
The picture shows a tui feasting on some newly opened flax flowers – note the pollen on his head.
The aerobatic displays are a joy to watch and illustrate just how happy the birds are at this festive time of the year.
IMG_0204 Tui flax

The Footbridge is Finished!

The job was completed last Thursday so now we have walking access across the stream by the Kiriwai lagoon.
Its been a long time coming but worth it to keep our feet dry.
Many thanks to Noel Parker for driving in the posts, to Ron Allan our master builder and to Dougal and Kevin our volunteer labourers. Thanks also to Alan Arnold for some tidying up work around the ends.

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Posts in.
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First span on.
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Master builder Ron at work!
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Looking good!
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Ron and Kevin testing it out.