On our September bird walk we saw an abundance of birds, particularly water birds, at Blue Lake at Ocean Grove, and Lake Lorne at Drysdale – 42 species in total.
The highlight of the day was a close view of 14 Royal Spoonbills at Blue Lake.
Royal Spoonbill at Blue Lake
There were even more of them at Lake Lorne, but they were further away. Their breeding plumage was stunning with long white plumes from the back of the head, bright yellow patches above the eye, a patch of red in the middle of the forehead, and cream-yellow wash over the lower neck and upper breast. We could clearly see the stripes right along the bills of the adults.
Royal Spoonbill in breeding plumage at Lake Lorne
Royal Spoonbill in breeding plumage
Pelicans and cormorants rested on rafts in the middle of the lake and, mostly invisible, brightly coloured Rainbow Lorikeets frolicked noisily in the high willows.
Cormorants at Blue Lake
A Dusky Moorhen chased off a couple of much larger Purple Swamphens. One downside was the presence of a male Northern Mallard, a species which has been introduced from Eurasia. There was also a strange duck which we had trouble identifying, and may have been a hybrid of a Mallard and Black Duck, but ‘the jury is still out.’ Mallards interbreed with Black ducks producing hybrids, and eventually may become the dominant species. In new Zealand they were deliberately introduced in the 1930s and 40s and are now 80 percent of the dabbling duck population. Ref: Fish and Game New Zealand.
At Lake Lorne, which is much bigger, we were initially disappointed that there were no Freckled Duck, as they are often there in great numbers.
Additionally, many birds were much further away on islands. However there were masses of birds overall. We were welcomed by a large flock of noisy Long-billed Corellas, which are often called ‘Cut-throats’ due to the pink line across the upper breast.
Some ducks, and a pair of swans, had babies bobbing along after them. Particularly of interest were several Blue-billed Ducks, the males with their glorious bright bills, and one displaying by vigorously splashing round with its upright tail.
Blue-billed Duck male
Best of all was the sight of over 50 of the very handsome Pink-eared Duck, with their odd square-tipped bills which are used for filter feeding.
Here is a list of all the birds identified:
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.