Monday, 24 September 2007

Shags, Caspian Terns & Spoonbill

Got no painting done today. I
had lots of organising to do for the up and coming exhibition so had lots of meetings and stuff to do today....Bleuurrggh! But my first meeting was at nine so I had a free hour beforehand. It was a strange misty kind of morning so I went to the river, the Apanui saltmarsh to be specific. I saw a whole group of shags swimming in close formation up a small stream. There was five of them, one looked a little larger than the rest so perhaps it was an adult and four juveniles but I would have thought a mum would be rid of her last brood of chicks by this time of the year. Anyway they were swimming in a really tight group and appeared to be feeding on a school of fish. I was trying to get a shot of all five of them with their heads up at the same time but they were practising unsynchronised swimming! I saw one catch a flounder and swallow it. For a bird with such a skinny neck they sure can get down some big fish!

There were about a half dozen Caspian Terns too. They are the largest of our tern species and quite cool with their bright red beaks. I was surprised to see one side by side with one of the spoonbills. They sure made a strange pair! I remember when the Kotuku was hanging around, from a distance the only way I could tell the kotuku from the spoonbills was because he wouldn't tolerate any other birds near him. He would chase off seagulls, ducks etc. The spoonbills were often mixed in with the gulls and at rest they'd hide their big goofy bills amongst
the feathers on their backs. I never saw the heron rest like that. From a distance they look like they have a yellow eye but the eye is black - that yellow is an eyebrow!

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