Just a few minutes walk from my house , there is a small bird sanctuary located in the Manukau Harbour, which is home to thousands of wading birds. It consists of two small man made islands and the surrounding land. When the tide is out the wading birds go out to feed , when the tidal is they come back. About 80 species of birds live here. There are Godwits, Pied Stilts and huge flocks of Oyster Catchers. There are also several rare species such as the Northern New Zealand Dotterel and the Wrybill.


I think it is a place that can be achingly beautiful. Recently Watercare have installed some park benches here so people can sit and watch the view. It is strange to think this was once the site of the infamous Mangere sewage ponds. These were vast oxidation ponds (the biggest of their kind in the world) that were used in the final stage of treating Auckland’s sewerage. What kind of city builds a sewerage plant in a slow draining harbour that defines the entire western edge of the city, where people live and fish, on a site that provides habitat for rare, endangered birds.  



Royal Spoonbills

Perhaps the most spectacular looking birds here are the Royal Spoonbills. they can be quite shy so it can be hard to get close to them.




From September to March there are large flocks of Bar Tailed Godwits. These birds are well known for their long migratory flight, the longest non-stop flight of any known bird. Every September these birds fly from Alaska to New Zealand (a journey of around 12000 km). Later around early March they fly back over a period of about 4 months making stops in Australia and the sea between Korea and Japan. They are wading birds so they can not stop on this flight and there is no land to create thermal updrafts. The Godwits fly continuously without gliding at a speed averaging about 80 km/hr.





These are Wrybills. They can be quite hard to see as at a distance they just like like stones. They are called Wrybills because of their beaks which are bent sideways. They are the only species of bird in the world to have a beak like this. These birds are endemic to New Zealand and there are only about 5000 of them. Sometimes around 10% of the entire population can be found on this bird sanctuary in the Manukau harbour.



This is a New Zealand Dotterel.  Apparently there are less than 3000 of these left, but there is a growing population in the bird sanctuary.