Okarito in December

 In Birdlife, Nature

It’s been an interesting spring and early summer in Okarito.  In November the mouth of the lagoon blocked off from the sea – this is a natural occurence when the southerly sea swells drop huge amounts of sand and sediment across the mouth and there is not sufficient rainfall flowing out from the lagoon.  It put a quick and early end to the whitebaiting season here, which, although disappointing is not as threatening to us as to the Kotuku – the Great White Heron.  These birds are nesting just north of Okarito and rely on the whitebait season for them and their newly hatched chicks.  Our heron numbers on the lagoon decreased as these birds struggled with the rising waters and had to move further afield for their feed.  The godwits also began to disappear as the tidal flats quickly became submerged.Okarito River mouth blocked

Within 3 weeks, the decision was made to force the lagoon open with a digger which duly arrived and took most of a day to clear the entrance.  With a few weeks now of the lagoon being tidal again, and recent rainfalls all is beginning to settle into a more regular routine of flow.  And with that, there are good numbers of herons to be seen feeding, royal spoonbills and the godwits have returned once again.  They were spotted just yesterday by a keen birder from Britain who just happened by on his way to a conference in Christchurch and joined us for a  morning trip.  He spotted about 3 dozen godwits feeding on the flats.White heron on Okarito tidal flats

The flax is beginning to flower, a bit late this year with cooler than normal temperatures, but the rata has had a brilliant flowering year.  We come right up to the tree featured here on the water – the show of red against the rainforest green is the perfect Christmas colouring!Rata in flower on Okarito Lagoon

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