4 Apr 2013

Shorebirds at Miranda

From Our Changing World, 9:46 pm on 4 April 2013

By Alison Ballance


Shorebirds of New Zealand book cover and Keith Woodley looking through his spotting scope

Keith Woodley watching waders with his spotting scope from the Miranda Shorebird Centre bird hide (image: A. Ballance)

Each autumn godwits and other Arctic wading birds head north from New Zealand back to their breeding grounds in Alaska and Siberia. They begin departing in early march and by mid April only a few juveniles birds that will overwinter remain here along with resident shorebirds such as wrybills.

The migratory shorebirds arrive in New Zealand each spring to feed on rich mudflats in estuaries and harbours around the country, but one of the top places to see them is Miranda, on the Firth of Thames. Keith Woodley is long-time manager at the Miranda Shorebird Centre, and Alison Ballance joins him at the centre’s viewing hide for a spot of late afternoon high-tide wader watching.

Keith Woodley has published two books on New Zealand shorebirds: ‘Shorebirds of New Zealand – sharing the margins’ (Penguin 2012) and ‘Godwits – long-haul champions’ (Penguin 2009).

You can listen to an interview by Kathryn Ryan with Keith Woodley here, and you can listen to a two-part Our Changing World story about godwit tracking at Foxton here and here.

Wading birds at Miranda and cover of Godwit's book

View from the bird hide at high tide, with hundreds of shorebirds scattered across the white shell bank and the mudflats (image: A. Ballance)