You can experience a real variety of bird life at Okarito now as the Kotuku (Great White Heron) are in the middle of their breeding season at the nearby Waitangiroto Sanctuary. The herons nest alongside the Royal Spoonbills and little shags which are all common feeders on the Lagoon, especially at mid-low tide.
On a good day right now you can see flocks of the legendary Eastern Bar Tailed Godwits, from 30 to over 100. These amazing birds migrate from Alaska to New Zealand, having the longest non-stop migratory flight of any bird. They arrived in Okarito in September and one couple who braved the elements with us on a rainy and windy day were thrilled to see the first flock arrive and land on the nearby tidal flats. These birds are now busy feeding to put on the approximate 1/3rd of their lost body weight from their long flight.
A couple of unusual bird sightings were made in Okarito this past week – a pair of lesser knots were comfortable feeding on the tidal flats and two unconfirmed sightings of a Nankeen Night Heron were reported. There have been very few sightings ever of this Heron in New Zealand. We’ll let you know if we get a confirmed report!
On an early morning trip last week (7:45-8:45 am – unscheduled trips can be made by advance booking – contact us!) a couple from the USA were rewarded for their early start with great sightings of three Australasian Bitterns!
The Kereru, or Native Wood Pigeon, have been putting on great shows up in the rainforest and the Tui’s are in good numbers right now too. The native flax and cabbage trees are just starting to flower in Okarito and these plants provide a tremendous food source for the Tui’s and Bellbirds. You can often watch them feeding as we cruise up the Okarito River into the rainforest on the 2 hour Nature Tour.
Manuka, also knownn as tea tree and for its honey and oils, is just coming into flower and the Kamahi, with its mini pink bottle brush flower has been in full bloom this past week.
After a good bout of West Coast rain these last few days, we are back to enjoying some warmth and sunshine here at the beach and Okarito Lagoon and hope you can come and join us soon!