You were warned.
My last words in yesterday’s edition related to a need for feathers. This is not some strange fetish (well, perhaps it is), and no tar is involved. Where were all the birds? It seemed to me that many of the birds whose presence I had enjoyed through the winter were absent. Armed with the long lens, and a set of gumboots (UK = “wellies”, US = “rain boots”) I went looking. Traversing the somewhat narrow and winding Gray’s Road around the Northern side of the Pauatahanui Inlet, I spotted a gaggle of Royal Spoonbills basking on a sandbank. Having found one of the few parking spots on this road, I donned the boots and began my sneaky trip through the reeds towards their resting place. Others have been here before me, so I was careful to follow their path to avoid further damage to the plants.
The birds were snoozing, several of them standing one-legged, pointed into the wind, but with their extraordinary bills laid along their back. Because they are still in breeding plumage the wind was spreading the plumes on the back of their head like a fan.
I thought I was being very stealthy, but I was detected. Just as jackals follow the lion, spur-winged plovers seem to stay close to the spoonbills. It was these that raised the alarm, and suddenly the sky was filled with flapping wings and shrieking alarm calls.
Now alert, the spoonbills began sidling towards the water but trying to look cool casual about it. I crouched down in the reeds and they appeared to settle.
Unfortunately they were much too skittish by now and the moment I put my head up, they were airborne. I don’t approve of flushing birds to get flight shots and won’t do it deliberately, but if they do fly I won’t miss the opportunity to try for the shot.
From there, it was on to Motukaraka Point hoping that the absentee kingfishers might have returned. They hadn’t. On the other hand there was a gaggle of Canada geese picking around at the water’s edge, and with them a family of still unfledged goslings.
That was a happy bird day.