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White Heron and Royal Spoonbills

A couple of days ago I took some friends up Paterson Inlet, and called into Prices Inlet to show them the old Whalers Shipyards. And was very surprised to see a flock of Royal Spoon Bills on the small islet just off the base. Probably shouldn’t have been, as I had seen them there once before, several years ago. But then I hadn’t been into the base at this time of year for some time, so maybe they have become a summer fixture.

But what really surprised me was when I noticed that one of the flock was a White Heron. Although we saw these elegant herons quite regularly while in Fiordland on Stewart Island , not so often. In fact the only sightings I had ever had was in Ship Builder Cove, Port Pegasus, where we often found a solitary white heron roosting with a colony of Pied Shags… both species are tree roosters, as it appears so are Spoonbills.

I didn’t have my long lens with me, so not the detail I would have liked, as they wouldn’t allow me to drift the boat closer than around 50 metres.

White Heron, Paterson Inlet, Sails Tours

White Heron (Kotuku)

Heron & Spoonbills, Prices Inlet, Sails Tours

White Heron (on left) with a small flock of Royal Spoonbills in Prices Inlet, Stewart Island

Mistletoe fruit, Sails Tours

Mistletoe Fruit

Coprosma Lucida fruit, Sails Tours

Coprosma lucida in heavy fruit

Coprosma ciliata, Sails Tours

Coprosma ciliata

Heavy Fruiting Season

This year appears to be a cracker as far as fruiting goes. Last post I mentioned the heavy masting of Rimu .

To this we can add our local Mistletoe and also most (all??) our Coprosma species. They truly are quite spectacular, with the parakeets and pigeons in particular gorging on them. And I’ve noticed Saddlebacks enjoying them occasionally. Nothing unusual there, but I’ve also been intrigued to see Stewart Island Robins picking up Rimu fruit. I’d wondered whether they would take fruit, as with Rimu masting only once every several years they might not see fruit often enough to “learn” how sweet these tiny red fruit are. And I’ve seen Brown Creeper taking fruit, although only a couple of times.

Coprosma rhamnoides, Sails Tours

Coprosma rhamnoides

So our fruit eating birds are really in clover, with so much food about. And even for species who focus on insects, I guess it’s hard to resist such high energy food when it is is such abundance.