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 ☺.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Whangamarino Verywetland

Just got back from a pleasant afternoon's birding at Whangamarino with another birder my age, Michael. We started off at my local poo ponds in Ngaruawahia, where we were able to tick the more common waterfowl such as Mallards, Black Swans, Australasian Shovelers and Grey Teal, as well as a whole bunch of easy-to-get passerines (perching birds) and the elegant Pied Stilts. I left the Oxidation Ponds with a total of 30 species under my belt, including some which I'd nabbed earlier in the day on Kereru Road, Glen Massey, such as NZ Bellbird and NZ Pipit. We headed up State Highway 1, and after a little trouble with a stubborn SatNav, we made it to Mangatawhiri.

Ngaruawahia Sewage Ponds

For about 8 months of the year, most birders wouldn't look twice at a place like Mangatawhiri. But interestingly enough, during winter it is home to one of New Zealand's newest species, the Galah. For some reason, every year Galah migrate south from Ponui Island in the Hauraki Gulf to this one spot to feast on the leftover maize stubble after harvesting. They were introduced about 50 years ago, and have really put this tiny village on the map for winter Waikato birdwatchers. Anyway, that was my main target species for the day, so off we went. After fruitlessly scanning the maize fields, we ignored the usual spot and went up Mangatawhiri Rd to the old Castle Cafe. Despite my seeming bird-blindness, Michael spotted three sitting very pretty in a pine tree, and eventually I saw them. Galah was my first and only lifer of the day, while Michael, the more experienced birder, just witnessed my delight at seeing this rare and beautiful bird, number 34 for the day.

My awful photo of a Galah - blame the camera!
After a rubbish photo, we headed south down Falls Road, where we stopped at the lookout right in the south-east corner of the 7200 hectare wetland. Here we checked for bittern and crakes, but the flats below were much too flooded for these cryptic and secretive species. We headed north again to the main Falls Road walkway. Pressed for time, we raced down the path until...prrrp... the soft, bubbling call of the reticent Spotless Crake tickled our ears. Tick. It didn't stop there, and after some coaxing from our recordings we managed to pinpoint at least FIVE crakes all around us! This is a definite high count for me, as previously I had one shaky record from the Whangamarino west ponds. Ears pricked, Michael managed to also pick out a Dunnock singing in the distance, rather special for the Waikato region although I know anyone south of Taupo will be chuckling at this!

The view from the Falls Rd Lookout
Tired and hungry, we headed back home via Island Block Road, and on the way heard our last birds for the day, a few Fernbirds at Coal Bucket Marsh, on the west side of the wetland, leaving us on a respectable 40 species in a few hours of fairly relaxed birding.
The moon rising over the West Ponds


  1. Kia ora from Te Awamutu,
    I am another Waikato birds enthusiast desperate to identify a small brownish bird. It was rather chestnut on top and greyish below with a thick black beak and black chin. Any ideas?

  2. Hey Peter,
    Judging by your description I would say that your bird was a male House Sparrow -
    If you disagree or have some more questions on bird identification, I'm super happy to help, and NZ Birds Online has a great bird ID tool -

    1. Now look. I know you are young and think you know everything, but even I know sparrows are English and NOT New Zealand birds! If you think you can trick this old man like some kind of dodgy politician, then you are badly mistaken! I saw this bird in Te Awamutu - not London! I am sorry it has come to this, but you have lost my view on your blogs.

    2. Hiya Peter! It is great to hear about somebody new getting into birding, and I'd be happy to help with your bird identification. Going of your description, I'd say Liam is right to say it is a sparrow. You are bang on the money in that they are British, but they have been introduced here and are doing quite well.

  3. You appear to be right, but that doesn't make it all okay for you young birders to think you know everything and gang up on us oldies! We are not dead yet! You guys seem to think you run the world. I went on a kĊkako survey down in Pureora Forest Park with my lovely wife who has been ill lately. She read on her cellphone something about the Greens lady, Turei, and said how annoying she was. Suddenly, this irritating tall blonde boy, about your age Liam, started lecturing her on socialism and how she needs to quote, "stop being so selfish." She was very upset and we had to leave. He was a horribly dressed boy too in a scruffy beany and even scruffier hair. I have never wanted to punch a teenager more in my life! And I've been pretty close! Sort yourselves out!

    1. Look Peter, I feel that you are taking this somewhat personally. I'm going to be honest, and speak my mind. You asked what a bird was. I answered. You, dissatisfied with my ID, compared me to a "dodgy politician", and someone who "thinks they know everything". Biting my tongue, I instead let someone else back me up in a fully respectful way. You then accused me and Michael of "ganging up on you", and again alluded to our "running of the world". You then criticised the appearance, manner and clothing of a personal friend of mine, making a huge generalisation in saying that us YB's are all the same. You admitted that you wanted to "punch" someone for having a different view to your wife and yourself. You then wanted US to sort OURSELVES out, making the assumption that I was of one mind as this "irritating" boy.
      I'm calling you out, and hope I am justified in doing so. I take no offense at these posts, however it worries me if you interact like this online with other people who may be more sensitive.
      This is nothing to do with you being wrong, and I myself am frequently wrong, but rather your ability to insult and accuse my generation with no apology or regret.
      So you have 'lost your view on my blogs'?
      I'm not bothered in the slightest, although if my self-esteem hinged on your opinion of me I would probably need counselling about now.
      I apologise if this offends you, but someone had to say it and as this is my blog I will take responsibility.


      (If anyone else wants to constructively criticise me, they are welcome to it. But Peter, we have had quite enough of you.)