David Lawrie, P?korokoro Miranda Naturalists Trust
A number of events are held in New Zealand during late February or early March to celebrate the journey of Bar-tailed Godwits and Red Knots as they leave on migration to their breeding grounds in the Arctic by way of stopover points around the Yellow Sea.
The first was at Ambury Park which fronts onto the Manukau Harbour, on the western side of the North Island. This event is organised by the Auckland Council, supported by volunteers from P?korokoro Miranda Naturalists Trust and BirdsNZ, who supply telescopes and explain the birds’ journey to the public.
The second event was at the P?korokoro Miranda Naturalists Trust Shorebird Centre [EAAF019] at Miranda on the east coast, on the 5th March. At this event Rachel Withington a researcher from Massey University gave a talk on the feeding habits of the Wrybill, an endemic species which migrates between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. This species is noteworthy in that it is the only bird species in the world that has a sideways bend in the bill. Rachel studied the feeding of these birds at Miranda over a season to determine if the shape of the bill is designed to enable the birds to scrape off the biofilm layer from the surface of the mud. It appears that some birds specialise in this feeding strategy while others pluck worms from just beneath the mud surface.
Following this fascinating talk most people then visited the hide to observe the well coloured Godwits and Knots, but no departures were observed.
However the next day the first departure was seen, and by the 20th March most Godwits had left New Zealand.
We pass the care of these birds to our friends around the Yellow Sea.