This large black and white bird is seen on the river, on the beach and flying overhead. It’s often observed with wings outstretched, sunning itself. There’s a whole colony of them in the trees just upstream from the footbridge. He aha tērā? What is that?
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Answer: it’s a kawau, pied shag:
Identification: Length: 65 – 85 cm; Weight: 1.3 – 2.1 kg
Similar species: Little shag, New Zealand king shag, Stewart Island shag, Black shag
A large, relatively slim black-and-white shag with white face, black feet, blue eye-rings and yellow facial skin. Black back, nape and upperwings contrast with white throat, breast and belly.
Cormorants dive underwater to catch food. They have feathers that become easily waterlogged, which allows them to dive deeper by preventing air bubbles from getting trapped underneath their feathers. This is one reason you often see cormorants standing with their wings spread, drying their wet wings after diving.