Pied Stilts: two adults and two chicks. Tahuna Torea wildlife reserve, Auckland. The reflection shows the length of the bill.
In January 2006, e.g. and I spent three weeks in New Zealand. E.g.’s grandfather moved to Auckland from England as a young man, and established a highly successful family business. When e.g. and I came from Canada to visit, one of her uncles “shouted” (paid for) our airfare; another uncle spent the day with us at Tiritiri Matangi bird sanctuary; and a third uncle hosted us at the beginning and end of our trip.
The beautiful, comical Pukeko, scouting for breadcrusts near the car park garbage can.
This third uncle is a volunteer ranger at the nearby Tahuna Torea wildlife reserve. Like Tommy Thompson Park, Tahuna Torea is, in part, a spit — this time a sandspit into the Tamaki River Estuary. Also like Tommy Thompson, Tahuna Torea is an area saved by a group of local residents from various proposed forms of destruction. In the 60s and 70s, the group successfully dissuaded City Hall from using this Crown-owned riverside area as either a marina or a rubbish tip. E.g.’s Uncle Three was, I believe, part of this original group — the Tamaki Estuary Protection Society — and has kept a hand in the care of this 25-hectare sanctuary ever since.
Pekin Duck escapees have found a good home.
The name Tahuna Torea is a Maori expression meaning “gathering place of the oystercatchers.” Uncle Three and I share an interest in birdwatching. I had been very careful to include as many important birding sites as I could in our travel itinerary, and Uncle Three was impressed at my final list of 79 species. But I’m just as impressed that a full one-seventh of them were seen within a block of his driveway.
Some eponymous Toreas (Variable Oystercatchers), gathering on the ball field that flanks the north side of Tahuna Torea reserve. Across the water is Bucklands Beach.