Birds of the Wairarapa and where to see them
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Field guide to the birds of Mataikona

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Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora)

Description: Very large seabirds. Head, body, tail and underwing is white except for wing tips which are black like outer wing. is distinguished from by the white head and body. Soar and glide on outstretched wings, rarely ever flapping.

Habitat: Frequents our offshore waters in winter and in windy weather can be seen from shore with telescopes. Can be attracted close to boats with fish scraps.

Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus)

Description: A grey-brown offshore bird (a little bigger than a ) with long narrow wings. Breeds in Sub-Antarctic around and below Stewart Island and migrates each year in clockwise fashion around the Pacific returning to New Zealand waters about September.

Habitat: Their southern migration may be witnessed from shore around Labour weekend as a continuous dark stream of birds close to the water flying steadily south.

Cape Pigeon (Daption carpensis)

Description: Black and white somewhat pigeon-like petrel which will closely approach boats for fish scraps. Underparts white. Head, back of neck and tail tip black with mottled white on upper wings. Essentially surface feeders, it eats a lot of krill.

Habitat: Best seen from a boat a few miles off shore. Offshore storms may force them close to shore.

Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor)

Description: Our smallest penguin. Light blue black upper parts with white underparts. Found all around New Zealand breeding on rocky coasts under rocks, driftwood or buildings. Noisy at nest-site - eerie screams, growls, wails. Swims very low in water often with only head showing.

Habitat: Watch at dusk on beaches at nesting areas as adults come ashore.

Australasian Gannet (Sula serrator)

Description: Large brilliant white birds with buff orange heads and black trailing edges and tips of wings. Several may dive repeatedly into a shoal of fish in company with and . The numbers breeding at the Cape Kidnappers colony in Hawke's Bay are increasing significantly.

Habitat: Solitary birds seen cruising off-shore. Make spectacular dives from 15 metres up into the water to catch fish.

Black Shag (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Description: Our largest shag which is found worldwide. Appears black at a distance with yellowish facial skin and white cheeks. In sunlight wing feathers are coppery-bronze. They bring catch to the surface where fish are juggled until it can be swallowed head-first.

Habitat: Commonly seen on rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters actively diving for prey.

Size: 90 cm

White-faced Heron (Ardea novaehollandiae)

Description: Our commonest heron. Blue grey plumage with obvious white face often called "blue heron". Nests (not necessarily near water) high in trees (often pine, macrocarpa or eucalyptus). Harsh "kraak kraak" call heard more often when breeding.

Habitat: Commonly solitary and seen on the irrigated pastures of dairy farms, but also rocky coasts, estuaries, lake margins, and rivers.

Size: 70 cm

Reef Heron (Egreta sacra)

Description: Uniformly slate-grey heron. Solitary and found only on rocky coasts. When hunting, stands in hunched position with body almost horizontal as opposed to more erect stance of (the only bird with which it might be confused).

Habitat: Rarely seen away from coast. Low flight close to water. The rocky sections of the beaches here provide the best opportunity of seeing anywhere in the Wairarapa, but they are shy and not always easy to spot.

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