Last week, when driving in to Collingwood , we saw an unusual bird on the road. It was walking across the road in a manner similar to a pukeko, but the bird was brown. From a distance, I thought it might be a weka, but weka have been absent from our area for many years from a viral epidemic. It was also in a wetland area – not a usual habitat for the weka. The wekas have come back to parts of Golden Bay but have not reached us yet. A mixed blessing, I think, because although these birds are quite friendly and interesting to watch, they are also very mischevous and destructive. Anyway, back to the bird in question: it had a longer body than a weka and a much longer, sharper beak. From the view we had as we got closer, it was almost certainly a night heron, probably the same one I reported seeing on March 9 2011 (see below), as it was in the same place.
As the seasons progress, the migratory birds have returned, particularly the bar-tailed godwits, and the white herons and many of the spoonbills have left for their breeding grounds at Okarito. We will expect them back in February. There is still a significant group of Royal Spoonbills based at the Aorere river mouth in Collingwood. Meantime, the spring weather has been good, with good crops of flowers on the native trees, so the bird life is well-fed. It is common to see native pigeon (Kereru) in the trees, and we can watch them as the fall out of trees, rather than fly, and swoop across the road to trees on the other side. Sometimes they swoop lower than intended and there have been some near misses with traffic! I have repeated my favourite picture of a kereru, perched on a pergola at Twin Waters Lodge.