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New Zealand  Dotterel

Australasian Banded Rail



Variable Oystercatcher

Red-billed Gull

New Zealand Brown Teal Duck

Wood Pigeon

"Great Barrier (Island) remains one of the largest areas in New Zealand where mustelids (weasels, stoats, and ferrets) have not become established. This is very significant for preserving existing species of birds for future ecological restoration. On the mainland, mustelids have accelerated the decline of many native birds (for example kiwi, various petrels, brown teal, kakapo and kaka), which had already been greatly diminished by European rats and feral cats. The continued existence of black petrel, brown teal, banded rail and kaka on Great Barrier today is probably mainly due to the lack of mustelids." - Great Barrier Island - (2001 - Canterbury University Press) Contributing author : Tim Lovegrove, Editor : Don Arimitage.

Many other birds found here have eluded our camera so far. The property is prime habitat for the Brown Teal Duck and Banded Rail, just sit and watch and you will see them. Regular visitors are groups of Kaka - Nestor septentrionalis - the New Zealand Bush Parrot and also Kakariki : Red-crowned Parakeet - Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae and Yellow-crowned Parakeet - Cyanoramphus auriceps. The dawn chorus is punctuated by the song of the Tui or Parson Bird - Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae and the "woosh woosh" sound of primitive flight feathers reveals fat Kereru - Wood Pigeon, - Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae who are often seen feeding on Puriri berries. These are some of the rarer species seen on the property.

Among the more common native birds are Kotare - the Kingfisher - Halcyon sancta, Piwakawaka - the Fantail - Rhipidura fulginosa, and the ever present Pukeko - Purple Moor Hen - Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus, who are most resplendent in royal purple with brilliant white undertail plumage during courtship. Frequently heard is Riroriro - the Grey Warbler - Gerygone igata and, at night, Ruru - the morepork or native owl - Ninox novaeseelandiae. Of course, being New Zealand, we also have a number of introduced species; the Skylark, Blackbird, Songthrush and Sparrow to name some, having been brought here by European settlers to make it more like home.

The Okiwi Valley stretches from bush-clad mountain to the Pacific Ocean, with a graduation of all the differing habitats in between. This transect, from 335 metres altitude, is over a mere 5 kilometres and the property sits halfway between mountain and sea. To venture out it is 2 km up the road to the top of the hill, 2km down the road to the estuary or 5km by an alternative road to the ocean beach.

Looking down on the Okiwi Valley from the South is the highest point on the island, Hirakimata or Mount Hobson. This is the stronghold and breeding ground of the Taiko or black petrel - Procelllaria parkinsoni. These formerly bred on many inland ranges of the mainland, but are now known to breed only on Great and Little Barrier Islands. Just 25km West lies Little Barrier Island where recently the New Zealand Storm Petrel - Oceanites maorianus (Pealeornis maoriana), thought for 100 years to have been extinct, was photographed and confirmed.

The property is not far from the swampland of the upper estuary where the Matuku - Australasian Bittern - Botaurus poiciloptilus, whose booming can resonate throughout the valley, is master of camouflage. Most secretive are the rarely seen Rails; Puweto - the Spotless Crake - Porzana tabuensis plumbea, recently heard in the Kaitoke wetland and Koitareke - the Marsh Crake - Porzana pusilla.

At low tide the Whangapoua Estuary exposes a vast shallow area of flats that nourish numerous waders including migratory species such as the Kuaka - Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica. A short drive down Mabey Road takes you to Whangapoua Beach where three species of particular rarity are found. The New Zealand Dotterel,     The Variable Oystercatcher and the Fairy Tern - Sterna nereis davisae.

"The range of coastal and shore birds on Great Barrier is similar to other parts of northern New Zealand. These species include pied, black and little black shags, red-billed gulls, white-fronted and Caspian terns, reef and white-faced herons, variable and South Island pied oystercatchers, New Zealand and banded dotterels, wrybill, pied stilts and several species of migrant Arctic waders, including bar-tailed godwit and golden plover." - Great Barrier Island - (2001 - Canterbury University Press) - Contributing author : Tim Lovegrove, Editor : Don Arimitage.

"This year the red-crowned parakeet or kakariki became the 73rd New Zealand bird species to join the global "Red List" of birds threatened with extinction. Like so many other birds, kakariki fall victim to predation by rats, stoats and possums."
http://www.forestandbird.org.nz (2005)

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