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
Fire damage in planted area
Fire crews still dampening down next morning
Looking back from Beach Road next morning
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
Just caught a fish!
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
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.
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
Godwits gathering in Wairau Lagoon
South Island pied oyster catcher dealing to a pipi
Pied stilt feeding
Will and I sharing bird stories over dinner
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.
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.
Tui enjoying pohutukawa
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.
One dead rat!
The art of camouflage
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.