Thousands of shorebirds can be seen on the shellbanks and tidal flats at Pūkorokoro, on the Firth of Thames. Some species, such as the Godwit, are Arctic migrants. Others migrate within New Zealand, such as the Wrybill and South Island Pied Oystercatcher. Still others, including Pied Stilts, NZ Dotterel and Variable Oystercatchers, are resident in the area and breed here.
Arctic migrants fly each year from New Zealand to the tundra of Eastern Siberia and Alaska to breed. Then in September-October, after a flight of over 12,000 kilometers they arrive back on our shores. It is a remarkable tale of migration, and one you can find out all about at the Shorebird Centre.
Pūkorokoro is an important non-breeding site for thousands of Arctic nesting shorebirds.
Other species present each year in small numbers: Ruddy Turnstone, Kuriri – Pacific Golden Plover, Eastern Curlew, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red necked Stint, Whimbrel, Pectoral Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper.
New Zealand Migrants
Pūkorokoro also plays an important role in bird migration systems within New Zealand.
Each year huge flocks of Torea – Pied Oystercatchers return here after breeding in the South Island. Over 20,000 can be found on the Firth of Thames from late summer.
Up to 2500 of the endemic Ngutu parore – Wrybill, around 40% of their total number, flock at Pūkorokoro for the non breeding season. The Wrybill is unique amongst birds, having a bill that curves to the side.
At the same time there may also be hundreds of Tuturiwhatu pohowera – Banded Dotterel. Also several sightings of Shore Plover as birds translocated to Motutapu in the Hauraki Gulf have wandered to Pūkorokoro.
Other species regularly seen: Tētē – Grey Teal , Kuruwhengi – New Zealand Shoveler, Kotare – Sacred Kingfisher , five species of Cormorant, Kōtuku – White Heron, Cattle Egret, Kōtuku Ngutupapa – Royal Spoonbill and occasionally Mātuku – Bittern.