After an incredible Sunday on Rangitoto Island, it was back to school for me and the other 799,000 students around the country. But unlike most of them, after a long and dreary Friday afternoon I crammed into a car with 3 other young birders (yes, there are more of us) and our driver, and we headed north. It was wader season!
The beginning of spring heralded the arrival of the Shining and Long-tailed cuckoos, the Buller's Shearwaters, and most importantly for us, the Bar-tailed Godwits and the host of assorted waders that came with them. Around 90,000 'Barwits' arrive in NZ every year, with around 6,000 arriving in Miranda, at the Firth of Thames. So why was I totally disregarding exams, homework, sleep, and an attempt at a social life in exchange for a few birds? Us crazies were heading north to Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre for the YBNZ (Young Birders New Zealand) Youth Banding Camp, headed up by the amazing Ian Southey and others, and subsidised by Fruzio and OSNZ (Ornithological Society). We were going to band birds! This involves capturing them in a fine net known as a mist net, putting a metal numbered band on them and taking measurements. The band meant if the bird was ever trapped again, or found dead, someone would be able to track how far this bird had gone.
I hauled myself out of the car seven pieces of pizza later, and slowly the blood began to return to my legs. We dropped our bags in our dorm (Dotterel Dormitory) and entered the main room of the Centre, where I was confronted by a sea of new faces. A birding newbie like myself, I had never seen such a large gathering of 'bird-nerds', and, slightly bewildered, I introduced myself and was able to put some faces to names. I tried to eat dinner, but that cheap Ngaruawahia pizza didn't want to be forgotten, so I didn't even manage seconds. After dinner, George H, Michael B-S and I headed outside to 'scout out the area for crakes', and when we got back - lo and behold - the dishes were all done! Our gaggle of birders milled collectively into the 'Wrybill Room' where I gazed longingly at all the amazing bird books contained within, until someone started speaking and I gave them my undivided attention. So undivided, in fact, that I can't even remember what they said, so I will move on.
More socialising was followed by bed (not necessarily sleep - thanks Joe!), and we mentally prepared ourselves for a brutal 5am start.
So who is this weirdo?
Hi! My name is Liam and I am a beginner birder living in Glen Massey. I first became interested in birds after a 6-month missions trip to Papua New Guinea in 2016, and my interest grew from there! I am now a member of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Young Birders New Zealand (OSNZ and YBNZ respectively ). So now, I'm starting this blog so I can share my birding adventures with anyone who will listen ☺.