Summer this year was beautiful on the West Coast and we enjoyed one of the best seasons for birds in years. The native flax flowered profusely starting early in the spring and carried on for a good few months. Flax flowers provide birds with a bounty of nectar and the village and Okarito waterways were loaded with Tui’s and bellbirds.
The white herons had an incredibly successful breeding season and by early January we had juvenile birds joining the adults on the lagoon. Swade took this marvelous photo of an adult bird with a small eel while on a morning trip.
Royal spoonbills were also around in huge numbers and entertaining as always with their animated feeding habits. We also had spotted shags, good numbers of pied stilts and oystercatchers, white fronted terns, caspian terns and some lesser knots.
The godwits arrived early in the spring, then vanished for a few weeks when the lagoon water levels were quite high. They returned as the water levels retreated and then all summer we saw them feeding on the tidal flats. They looked rounded and rosy before heading back to Alaska for their breeding season just a few weeks ago – we wish them well on their arduous journey. There remains a grouping of juvenile godwits here for the winter.
We are now having a “mast” year with fruiting of many trees including the tall kahikatea trees which are absolutely loaded with bright orange berries. These are very sweet and another great source of food for tui’s and bellbirds. We also have a large number of fantails around right now and have had some incredibly good sightings of Australasian bitterns! very exciting to have these birds around, both in the village and up the Okarito River.
Our tours will be operating with regular hours until the end of May when we will be readying to leave for Canada for the next few months (June-August) and will resume our trips in September.