Birds of the Wairarapa and where to see them
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Field guide to the birds of Lake Reserve and Tauherenikau Estuary

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New Zealand Dabchick (Podiceps rufopectus)

Description: Small brownish water bird which dives. Smaller than any duck with rounded body, small head and short sharp beak. Dives for food. Must fly at night between lakes as they shift around but overland flight never observed. Run across the water with wings outstretched splashing on the surface if suddenly disturbed. May also escape by swimming under water. Carries newly hatched chicks on back for first few days.

Habitat: Found on sheltered water of lakes, farm dams and oxidation ponds.

Size: 30 cm

Little Shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos)

Description: Small black and white shag with varying amounts of white on cheeks, throat and underparts. Some adults are entirely black, but much smaller than . Distinguished from (much less common) by short stubby yellow beak. Dries wings like and often shares nesting colony with them.

Habitat: Found on ponds, lakes, rivers and sheltered coastal waters.

Size: 60 cm

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

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

Description: Small short necked white heron seen usually with cattle. Fly over from Australia in winter months returning there to breed often when orange breeding plumage on head and breast has developed. They walk close to cattle feeding on insects. They roost at night high in trees.

Habitat: Small flocks have returned regularly to dairy farms south of Carterton and Featherston. They are wary and hard to approach.

Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia)

Description: Large white wading bird with long black spoon beak, black facial skin and small yellow patches above the eyes that look like strange eyelids. Not as tall as a , but much bulkier. Feeds in water by sweeping slightly open beak from side to side. Silent except at breeding colonies.

Habitat: Seen in small flocks on the edge of lakes. Occasionally seen at Lake Reserve in the autumn.

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