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
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
10. Australasian bittern
11. Black Swan
12. Canada Goose
13. Paradise Duck
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
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.
24. Spur-wing Plover
25. Pied Stilt
26. South Island Pied Oystercatcher
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.
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
39. Welcome Swallow
40. NZ Pipit -usually found in rough country, rare in the Waikato lowlands, seen recently at Tauhei Quarry.
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.
45. Song Thrush
49. House Sparrow
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.