Eastern Curlew on the Whanganui

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During summer I regularly check the waders on the Whanganui River Estuary, and yesterday I got the surprise of my life, a lone Eastern Curlew feeding on the river edge. It was eating crab after crab, and allowed my reasonably close approach, so a great range of pictures were obtained. This is the first time I have seen one at this location, and only the third I have seen in NZ. They are the largest wader in NZ and have an enormous bill, yet he was probing the mud right up to his face. What a great start to the new year.

Godwit AJD back in Whanganui for the 11th Year

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Great to have back on our Whanganui River Estuary our old godwit friend AJD, having arrived on the 29th November 2018. This is the 11th year he has been here, after spending a little over two months at Foxton, the place he first migrates to from Alaska. I first caught up with him this season at Foxton, on the 22nd of September, 2018. We expect him to stay here in Whanganui until the 25th of March, his preferred day of departure for the Yellow Sea. The photo below was taken on my phone, through the spotting scope.

Exploring Coastal Hawkes Bay

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Even though we have lived in New Zealand all our lives, there are some more remote areas that we may not have visited. One such area for us was southern coastal Hawkes Bay, and in exploring this area we found some nice gems, in addition to the birds we are always searching for. One such place was there Waihi Falls, as pictured below. Coastal places we visited were Porangahau, Herbertville, and Akitio. During our travels we noticed a number of rooks, and also numerous black-backed magpie, both birds more common in this area than anywhere else in NZ.

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Godwit Arrivals

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It is from mid-September each year that the godwits arrive back in NZ from their northern migration, to north and western Alaska. I witnessed a returning group of five at the Whanganui River Estuary, on September 15, with some birds showing droopy wings. After a non-stop journey of nearly 12,000 kms it is no wonder they are thin, tired, and with droopy wings. They soon were feeding feverishly and within hours their wings were back to normal.

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New Wanganui Pictorial

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This week we release another Wanganui Pictorial, our fifth book on Wanganui. It was produced at the request of our local Paper Plus and we expect it to be a steady seller, as have previous editions (4,000 copies were sold of the first edition). Most books are sold to tourists and visitors, so we repeat common scenes, because for visitors, they are all new. The book includes a first for us – aerial pictures taken using a drone.

Little Wanganui Book Cover 2018 1

Little Wanganui Book Cover 2018 2

Book Arrival – BIRDS NZ beauty like no other – 2nd edition

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This week the shipment of our new book, BIRDS New Zealand beauty like no other – 2nd edition, arrived safe and sound, with no damage that I can see. Our son Stephen got his work mates to help stow away the 333 cartons, for which we were very grateful. We are now packing pre-orders and planning to have them to the shops by 1 August 2018. Bird books remain very popular and demand from shops is as good as ever.

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Advance Copies of New Book Arrive

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Two copies of the new book, sent by international courier, were received today, so more great excitement. Very very happy with the real thing, the book is simply beautiful. More pages but less weight, so this new book comes in well under 2 kg. The bulk shipment of books is coming by sea freight with expected arrival of July 25.

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Book proofs arrive – great excitement

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Before committing to book printing, a good look over the proofs is essential. It is always an exciting stage in the book production, and allows us to get our first look at what the book will actually look like. We are VERY pleased with the colour reproduction, and are certain the final book will be just beautiful. Below is a phone picture Jane took of me today poring over these proofs, in readiness to return them to China, to be used in the press room.

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Kaikoura – Wildlife Mecca

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A final trip to Kaikoura to obtain pictures for our next book was made over Easter 2018 and was a big success. We obtained the pictures we went for and more, even the dolphins put on a good display for us. Two new species for me in NZ were photographed on the road trip south – a black kite near Blenheim and a hoary-headed grebe at Lake Elterwater, near Ward – both Australian birds.

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Godwit flagged AJD again departs on migration on March 25

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Our Whanganui special, AJD, has been on our Whanganui River Estuary since early January and again has departed on migration on March 25 in late afternoon for his 11th circuit since being banded. A bird of amazing timing, as time-precise as the rising moon or setting sun. On March 18, 2018, I achieved a close approach to him and those he was with, by crawling across the mudflat for some closeup photos. He is a real stunner when fully dressed in his breeding plumage – see below.

AJD March 2018