Sunday, December 6, 2020

Wrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis) at the Manawatu River Estuary, North Island, New Zealand

TitleWrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis) at the Manawatu River Estuary, North Island, New Zealand
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsArmitage, I
Type of Articleshort note

[First paragraphs ...]
The ‘sandspit’  on the True Right bank of the Manawatu River, in Foxton Beach Village, (175°14'E 40°30'S) is a significant roosting site for migratory and resident waders, gulls, terns, pied stilts (Himantopus himantopus), royal spoonbills (Platalea regia), shags, ducks, and other birds. The ‘sandspit’  is 2-5 ha, depending on the state of the tide, c.1 km from the Tasman Sea, It is surrounded on 3 sides by the main course of the river and by tidal flats, and as well as this natural isolation, it is protected as a “bird sanctuary” by local bye-laws.

On 14 Jan 2006, I observed a flock of 29 wrybills (Anarhynchus frontalis) arrive on the 'sandspit', rest briefly, then take flight again and leave the area. The weather was sunny and warm, with a light south-easterly wind, and visibility was good. The tide was rising, being about mid-tide when the birds arrived. The wrybill flock arrived at c.0930 in a compact group and landed on dry sand above high water mark c.20 m in front of my position on the western edge of the 'sandspit'. The birds settled quickly after landing and, with a few exceptions, they scarcely moved but remained close together,with c.½ of the birds resting on 1 leg. However, the birds in the flock were sufficiently separated to be counted easily using 9 × 25 binoculars. No birds attempted to feed and the flock was silent when resting. The flock rested slightly apart from the numerous lesser knots (Calidris canutus), variable oystercatchers (Haematopus unicolor), bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica), pied stilts (Himantopus himantopus), and several Pacific golden plovers (Pluvialis fulva) that were also roosting on the sandspit. After about 10 min, the wrybills departed, with a few calling as they took flight. The flock quickly gained height to 10–25 m and headed south-west along the river towards the sea, returning the way they had come.

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