Who are all those birds in the Estuary?

Juvenile Black-fronted Tern on the beach.
This Tarapirohe | Black-fronted Tern resting at Waikawa Beach is a Nationally Endangered bird.

This summer the estuary from shore to sea has been abundant with hundreds of birds feeding and resting — more than 20 species, not counting common birds like magpies or pigeons, or Shovelers, Paradise Shelducks and other ducks.

We’ve seen flocks of Dotterels, Oystercatchers, Terns, and Godwits.

It’s not too surprising we see all these birds: Waikawa Estuary is roughly 25 Km from Foxton Estuary and 20 Km from Waikanae Estuary, as the bird flies. That makes Waikawa a good stopping point if they’re travelling between the two, though many of these birds reside here and some raise their chicks here too.

BirdLength cmWeight gramsNZ statusConservation status
Tarapirohe | Black-fronted Tern2895endemicnationally endangered
Taranui | Caspian Tern50700nativenationally vulnerable
Ngutuparore | Wrybill2055endemicnationally vulnerable
Pohowera | Banded Dotterel2060endemicdeclining
Kuaka | Bar-tailed Godwit39-41275-600nativedeclining
Tarāpunga | Red-billed Gull37240-320nativedeclining
Tara | White-fronted Tern42160nativedeclining
Tarāpuka | Black-billed gull35-38230endemicdeclining
Tōrea | South Island Pied Oystercatcher46550endemicdeclining
Tūturiwhatu | NZ Dotterel25146-160endemicrecovering
Kawau | Pied Shag65-851300-2100nativerecovering
Tōrea Pango | Variable Oystercatcher48720endemicrecovering
Black-fronted Dotterel16-1830-35nativenaturally uncommon
Kawau Tūī | Little Black Shag61800nativenaturally uncommon
Kōtuku Ngutupapa | Royal Spoonbill74-811400-2000nativenaturally uncommon
Kororo | Black-backed Gull601000nativenot threatened
Poaka | Pied Stilt35190nativenot threatened
Spur-winged Plover38350-370nativenot threatened
Matuku moana | White-faced Heron67550nativenot threatened
Kaireka | Skylark1838introducednaturalised

What do they look like?

These photos have mostly been published on Waikawa News before.

NZ Dotterel on driftwood.
Tūturiwhatu | NZ Dotterel on driftwood.
Banded dotterel on driftwood.
Pohowera | Banded dotterel on driftwood.
Tiny bird with white chest, black stripes, orange bill with a black tip.
Black-fronted Dotterel.
Wrybill with beak curved to the right.
Ngutuparore | Wrybill with beak curved to the right.
One long-beaked wading bird in the beach shallows.
Kuaka | Godwit
Juvenile and adult, large birds on the beach.
Juvenile and adult Kororo | Black-backed Gull
White and grey bird with red bill.
Tarāpunga | Red-Billed Gull
Gull in the estuary with beak wide open.
Tarāpuka | Black-billed gull
Part of the flock of terns, with sea as backdrop.
Part of a flock of Tara | White-fronted Terns.
Two Caspian terns on the beach with sea behind.
Taranui | Caspian Tern.
Juvenile Black-fronted Tern on the beach.
Tarapirohe | Black-fronted Tern.
Two Oystercatcher chicks near an adult amongst driftwood, sand and young grasses.
Two Tōrea pango | Variable Oystercatcher chicks near an adult.
Two South island pied oystercatchers on damp sand at the edge of the sea.
Tōrea | South Island Pied Oystercatcher
Poaka | Pied Stilt stands guard on 3 juveniles.
Poaka | Pied Stilt stands guard on 3 juveniles.
Large black and white shag with wings stretched, on wet sand.
Kawau | Pied Shag
Two black shags by the river.
Two Kawau Tūī | Little Black Shags. Photo by Marion Cherry. Used with permission.
Large white birds behind or beside a large piece of driftwood.
Kōtuku Ngutupapa | Royal Spoonbills.
White-faced heron.
Matuku moana | White-faced heron.
Medium sized bird with dark head and back, white underparts, amongst driftwood on sand near spinifex beach grasses.
Spur-winged Plover
Small to medium bird high in the sky with outspread wings.
Kaireka | Skylark
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