28 He aha tērā? What is that?

These elegant blue transparent creatures show up on the beach sometimes. They stand up in a kind of horn with a skirt around and a trailing blue ‘string’. It’s not a good idea to tangle with them as they can sting when alive, and even when dead. He aha tērā? What is that?

Transparent blue almost finger shaped object on the sand.
Photo by Miraz Jordan. Used with permission.

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27 He aha tērā? What is that?

These large wading birds spend their summers on our beach after an exhausting non-stop 12,000 Km flight over 10 days or so all the way from the Alaskan Arctic. They have a long tapering and slightly upturned pink bill with black tip He aha tērā? What is that?

Four large long-legged wader, brown above, pale below, with a long tapering and slightly upturned pink bill with black tip.
Photo by Miraz Jordan. Used with permission.

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Answer: it’s a kuaka, godwit:

Identification: Length: 39 cm (male); 41 cm (female); Weight: 275-400 g (male); 325-600 g (female)

Similar species: Hudsonian godwit, Black-tailed godwit, Whimbrel

A large long-legged wader, brown above, pale below, with a long tapering and slightly upturned pink bill with black tip. Males are markedly smaller with shorter bills than females.

26 He aha tērā? What is that?

Occasionally you’ll come across driftwood covered in waving stalks, each terminating in what looks like a soft shell with tentacles emerging. If you’re not a fan of horror movies it may be very unnerving. He aha tērā? What is that?

Large driftwood log covered in stalks and shells.
Photo by Miraz Jordan. Used with permission.
Closeup of stalks, shells and tentacles.
Closeup. Photo by Miraz Jordan. Used with permission.

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25 He aha tērā? What is that?

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?

Two large black and white birds on the shore, one with wings spread.
Photo by Miraz Jordan. Used with permission.

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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.

Did you know:

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.

23 He aha tērā? What is that?

This very colourful bird has been spotted in the village recently, but shouldn’t be here at all. It has a red bill, blue head, yellow neck, green body and red breast. It’s not an eastern rosella though. He aha tērā? What is that?

Very colourful bird on a fence.
Photo by Fred Hirst. Used with permission.

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