Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

October 10, 2011

Canterbury Birds

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 11:46 pm

Lake Ellesmere and Methven.

The first stop after leaving Christchurch was Lake Ellesmere. It is a convoluted route to get there. I had to go out onto the main highway and dart off into this maze of roads leading through all these low-lying areas. Eventually I found the reserve and camped there for the night. There were a lot of birds in the surrounding pine trees – mainly Blackbirds, Starlings, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Yellowhammer. After that I went for a walk along the track to the hide at Harts Creek.

Lake Ellesmere
Lake Ellesmere

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) were introduced from Australia and are quite common.
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) were introduced to New zealand in the 1860’s and there are a small number in Lake Ellesmere.
White-faced Heron (Ardea novaehollandiae) colonised from Australia and are now common throughout New Zealand.
Mallard (Anas platyrynchos) were introduced from Europe and America as a game bird and are very common.

Video of Canterbury Birds

Australasian Crested Grebe or Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus cristatus) nest from November to January. Just trying to work out if the Australasian Crested Grebe(Podiceps cristatus australis) in New Zealand is a sub species of the Great Crested Grebe of Australia. It seems that there are 3 sub species, European, African and Australasian. Our one and the nz ones are the same sub-species, australis.

Australasian Harrier or Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans) are very commonly seen over roads and fields in New Zealand. They are easily identifiable by their white rump. The only other raptor as far as I can tell is the New Zealand Falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae) which is very closely related to the Brown Falcon of Australia. I saw one once in a vineyard in the Awatere Valley in the Marlborough.

Pukeko or Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus) are very common both here and in Australia. In all there are about 13 sub-species around the world.

Southern Black-backed Gull, Maori Name: Karoro, Scientific Name: Larus dominicanus. Also known as the Kelp Gull – very similar to the Pacific Gull of southern Australia, Lars pacifius, which i thought it was at first. The Kelp Gull has a stripey tail and the Pacific Gull has a red tip on the bill.
Red-billed Gull(Larus scopulinus).
Grey Warbler – Maori Name: Riroriro, Scientific Name: Gerygone igata.

Hutt Ranges
Hutt Ranges

Pied Stilt or Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus leucocephalus) has a very controversial taxonomy. There are about 5 sub-species around the world with much disputation about the validity of their various statuses. To compound the issue further, the Pied Stilt interbreed with the Black Stilt in New Zealand and create some obfuscating hybrids. Hopefully I will get to see the Black stilt at the hide in Twizel, up in the Mackenzie country.

Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) colonised from Australia in the 1930’s.

New Zealand Fantail , Maori name: Piwakawaka (Rhipidura fuliginosa) is considered by some to be conspecific with the Grey Fantail of Australia, having different calls.

Sakura in New Zealand.
Cherry Blossoms in Ashburton Domain

The New Zealand Pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) is an endemic New Zealand bird that lives in the forest and feeds on fruits, flowers and leaves. The ones that I saw at Taylor’s Stream near Mount Hutt were eating cherry blossoms. Their nest is a flimsy structure of twigs and sticks supported on several smaller branches. They breed from November to March and generally have one egg with an incubation period for about 30 days.

Canterbury Bird List

Welcome Swallow
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelabs)
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)
Red-billed Gull
Black-backed Gull
Pied Stilt
Masked Lapwing
New Zealand Fantail
New Zealand Pigeon
Swamp Harrier
Grey Warbler
Black Swan
Mute Swan
Great Crested Grebe
White-faced Heron
Masked Lapwing

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