Day 356: Joining the Huddle

Medieval times and black-tie attire are the themes at Miranda's giant shorebird roost.

December 22, 2015: Auckland, New Zealand — After last night’s kiwi hijinks, Harry and I were up before dawn this morning (not that I’m counting, but that makes eight straight nights without five hours of sleep) to visit a place called Miranda, outside of Auckland, where shorebirds gather near high tide. I’ve seen almost all of the world’s migratory wading birds by now, but a rare Little Curlew was reported here yesterday and we hoped it might linger.

The shorebird roost was impressive. Several thousand Bar-tailed Godwits huddled together like a medieval army, with lance-like beaks pointing into the wind, while smaller, squatter Red Knots picked around underfoot. Hundreds of South Island Oystercatchers (which also visit New Zealand’s north island) masqueraded in black-and-white attire and red lipstick, apparently waiting for the party to start. The Little Curlew was nowhere to be seen, though.

We did see a few dozen Wrybills, a peculiar, dainty shorebird whose beak is twisted asymmetrically to one side. Nearby were some Black-billed Gulls and Double-banded Plovers, which were also new. So it wasn’t a washout. Harry and I spent the rest of the day bouncing around the greater Auckland area, tracking down a few more birds on my wish list.

Nine days to go, and 57 birds to the big 6K. Happy Solstice!

New birds today: 7

Year list: 5943

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