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Royal Spoon Bills in Paterson Inlet

I first noticed the occasional Royal Spoonbill around Prices Inlet in Paterson Inlet many years ago. Generally close to the small islet off the Whalers Base. This spring someone mentioned there were now several birds flocked there.

I had a friends boat to launch, and as I usually do I took Hunter for a short run up Paterson Inlet to make sure all was working well. I took along for the ride a couple we had staying at Sails Ashore. As we came out of Kidney Fern Arm we noticed several large white birds on the Nugget.  A bit closer and, as I thought, they were our Spoonbills.

There were maybe a dozen birds all told, and very definitely in “flock mode”, as they all took off when we approached, stayed as a flock in flight, and all came back to the roost area. Most appeared to be in breeding plumage ….  distinct long plumes off the back of the head.

Spoonbills have long been known in New Zealand. ……. Maori called them Kotuku_ngutupapa …. but they were first recorded breeding at the Ohau River Mouth in 1944. Gradually small breeding colonies have appeared (and dissapeared) around New Zealand. It remains to be seen, but perhaps we have a colony starting here.

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