N8N’s bird list hits 57…and counting

NZ Falcon Gordonton
NZ falcon sitting in a tree on Woodlands Rd, and feeling pretty much chuffed with itself. As are we – falcon are almost as rare as hens’ teeth in these parts! Thanks for the tip, Don. August 2018.


All these birds, some nationally endangered, others pretty common, have been spotted in our territory.  (That’s the area north-east of Hamilton – including Puketaha, Horsham Downs, Gordonton, Orini and Tauhei –  helpful map below.)

Currently we’re on 57 species – we started counting at below 50 and would love to add to this, if you spot a bird we haven’t listed do get in touch.

Get in touch regardless, if you come across something interesting.  The strangest birds can turn up out of the blue sometimes – like the (dead) broad-billed prion that we found in our backyard – usually you’d only expect to see one of these oceanic petrels out at sea, but many were blown inland during a storm, back in July 2011.

So here’s our list, with notes on some of the more unusual species:


1. Dabchick – Zealong Tea Estate have up to five of these rare native grebes on their ponds, and they also occur on Lake D.
2. Broad-billed Prion

Broad-billed prion photo
Broad-billed prion, photo: Rosemary Tully Wikimedia Commons

3. Little Shag
4. Black Shag
5. Pied Shag
6. Little Black Shag
7. White-faced Heron
8. Cattle egret – there used to be a flock of these small white herons at Rototuna but they’ve been pushed out by urban expansion.  Has anyone seen any recently?

9. Royal spoonbill

Royal spoonbill photo
This royal spoonbill was seen preening itself beside a flooded paddock near Candylands, Komakorau.

10. Australasian bittern

NZ bittern photo
This nationally endangered bittern was spotted on a farm in Gordonton. Thanks Cloudy and John!

11.  Black Swan
12. Canada Goose
13. Paradise Duck
14. Mallard
15. Australasian Shoveler
16. Grey Teal
17. NZ Scaup – there was one on Lake Kainui in 2019 but there are not many around.
18. Australasian Harrier
19. NZ Falcon
20. Pheasant
21. Peafowl – there are a few semi-feral flocks around the district, not sure if they’re really wild enough to count, but we’ll take them for now…
22. Californian Quail – these cuties used to be more common, but there are still a few around.
23. Pukeko
24. Spur-wing Plover
25. Pied Stilt
26. South Island Pied Oystercatcher

Pied Oystercatcher photo
“Where the beach?” This pied oystercatcher wasn’t sure what to make of the Gordonton paddock he landed in last summer….

27. Southern black-backed gull – abundant in many parts of the country, but very scarce here for some reason
28. Caspian Tern – occasionally seen on Lake Kainui and other small lakes.
29. NZ pigeon
30. Spotted Dove – only appeared in the district a few years ago, but rapidly increasing in numbers
31. Barbary Dove – one seen several years ago on Proctor Rd between Orini and Te Hoe.  Was this a vagrant from somewhere else, part of a small resident population, or someone’s pet?
32. Rock Pigeon
33. Kaka – a few often visit Woodlands and Pukemokemoke in the winter, and occasionally turn up elsewhere.


Kaka photo
Who’s a beautiful fella then? John Riddell took this great pic in 2016.

34. Eastern Rosella
35. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – back in May 1992 there were several cockatoos reported to the Ornithological Society, in Horsham Downs, feeding on walnuts.  (Thanks to Don for this reminder!)
36. Shining Cuckoo
37. Morepork
38. Kingfisher
39. Welcome Swallow
40. NZ Pipit -usually found in rough country, rare in the Waikato lowlands, seen recently at Tauhei Quarry.
41. Silvereye
42. Grey Warbler
43. Dunnock – also known as hedge sparrow, these are common down south but very uncommon around here.  Have been seen at Pukemokemoke and Taupiri.
44. Blackbird
45. Song Thrush
46. Skylark
47. Fantail
48. Tui

Tui photo
A Gordonton tui strikes the right pose…

49. House Sparrow
50. Goldfinch
51. Chaffinch
52. Greenfinch
53. Yellowhammer
54. Starling
55. Myna
56. Australian Magpie
57! Rook – there used to be a small population on Woodlands Rd, but that was eradicated by the council as they’re regarded as agricultural pests.  Still present around the Waikato in low numbers, and occasionally seen flying over.

It can sometimes be a bit tricky deciding which birds can be counted.  Chickens sometimes get released at rest areas, but they don’t persist as a wild population.  Therefore we don’t count them.  Similarily, we’ve seen a couple of free flying cockatiels but they have almost certainly escaped from cages.  So are not added to the list.  What about turkeys?  Does anyone know of any local flocks that get by without human assistance?

Please get in touch if you have seen interesting birds in our area – helpful map below.    Email any feathered sightings to annette here.


Number 8 map
Our area
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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

3 thoughts on “N8N’s bird list hits 57…and counting

  • September 5, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Hello Annette, I couldn’t see peacock? Been across the road at the time Lex & Joy were there.

    • September 6, 2018 at 8:19 am

      Hi Judy – thanks for your comment – I’ve listed peacocks under the more gender neutral name of peafowl, because a peacock is a boy and a peahen is a girl! Do you know if those birds are still there and if anyone is caring for them?

  • September 19, 2018 at 8:59 am

    WE HAVE 50 SPECIES, thanks to Don, who lives in the UK. He wrote asking if cockatoos had been seen in the area and checking back on some dimly remembered records we found that they had. Says Don: “I’ve been waiting all week for this newsletter to see if the final 2 birds were found to make the list up 50. Forty eight is an impressive number and when you read the list you get a surprise as how you take their presence for granted. Good to see Californian quail on the list.
    “How about the seagulls – Red or Black billed? And have you ever had White cockatoo from over the west coast in the Gordonton area. I remember back in the ’80s, we were living at Horotiu at the time, hearing this racket and seeing these white birds flying from the Te Kowhai direction. It was the White cockatoos out for a day trip inland. First time I’d ever seen them in the wild.”
    Many thanks Don – we’re delighted! Now. Can we get to 60?


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