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A Murmuration of Wrybills

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 5 March 2020 | Views [136]

Wrybill (See his curved bill?)  Stilt Pond, Miranda

Wrybill (See his curved bill?) Stilt Pond, Miranda

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THOSE VIDEOS OF FLOCKS of birds — starlings, mostly — swooping and soaring in unison like a school of tightly packed sardines?  Birders call these maneuvers “murmurations.”  Well, we learned today — or rather we saw — that starlings aren’t the only birds to do this.


            A murmuration of wrybills — and one Pied Stilt

Thames, at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula, was once a gold-mining center.  The gold is long gone but some of the charm remains.  We used the Coastal Motor Lodge as a base to search for the endemic Wrybill with its unique right-curving bill.  


    Wrybill Murmuration


                                         Oystercatchers try it too

Armed with a little beta from the Miranda Shorebird Centre we trekked out to the mis-named Stilt Pond.  As we approached a cloud of birds arose and performed maneuvers that would have made Alfred Hitchcock envious.  Several hundred wrybills performed intricate swoops and turns in perfect synchronization only millimeters apart, marred only by a single pied stilt that somehow managed to keep up.  Later on we watched a hundred oystercatchers try the same stunts.  Or maybe they were taking their daily constitutional.


                           Wrybills and Red Knots

Wrybills and Oystercatchers aren't the only birds that flock to Miranda.  We saw hundreds of Bar-tailed Godwits, and dozens of Red Knots stalking the flats.


             Coromandel Peninsula



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