Saturday, April 28, 2018

New Zealand Bird Guide, and the padded numbers!

We have reached the upper half, of the North Island, New Zealand, and I have to admit, I am a bit surprised at, well, the complete lack of shorebirds that I have seen so far. In my early preparations for this long trip, I gathered every guide that I get my hands on, and as many of those in an electronic version as I could. The one book that I found most helpful for New Zealand, list 374 bird species that can be found here. Listed in this guide, are 66 birds that I would consider in the shorebird listing. Plovers, Sandpipers, Stilts, Oystercatchers, Godwits, and Snipe are the birds that I would put in this grouping. Of that group of 66, a person, really only has any real chance of seeing 9. Now, please consider the fact that many of these species are restricted to a group of islands, many miles off the New Zealand coast, Snares, Chatham, Auckland, Kermadec, and Campbell Island all fall into this category. They all have species that have been split out and given the Island name that they live on, and so, are rightfully listed in this guide. The Chatham Islands Oystercatcher, Shag, and Snipe, The Kermadec Storm Petrel, The Snares Snipe are a few birds that have been given “Island” names. Many fall under the “rare or Uncommon Arctic Migrant” listing, birds that have been seen here at some point. I really don’t want anyone to get the idea that I don’t like this field guide, I really do. It has been very helpful, but I feel it has exaggerated the number you can expect to find here. I am sure listing the Bristle-thighed Curlew seemed important to the authors, but given that it has been seen three total times in the history of New Zealand, and even then, only on a very remote island (The Kermadecs) hundreds of miles north of the North Island, just seems like a bit of a push to fill the pages of the guide. The Upland Sand pipers, has been seen a total of once, ever. Same with the red-kneed Dotterel, once in 1976. Semipalmated Plover, three times, the Pacific Gull, a total of one sighting. Franklins Gull 4 times, the Wilson’s Phalarope three times, you get my point. Now, I have to take full blame for reading a book, and not catching that part. It is clearly printed in the text, but I guess the scope of this just has me a bit, well, bothered. New Zealanders reading this, I Love your country, and have had an amazing time exploring and will be back, I just won’t come looking for 300 birds!

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