Birds around the Leigh coast

Leigh, is a great place to spot a variety of sea or coastal birds.

Reef herons breed on Goat Island and white-faced herons feed in the rock pools at Goat Island and Whangateau Harbour at low tide.

Red-billed seagulls are the most common seagull and will approach picnickers hoping for a handout. Black-backed gulls are larger seagulls and known as Dominican gulls.

White-fronted terns nest and feed at Goat Island and flocks rest on the sand at Pakiri, along with the rarer red-billed Caspian terns. These large terns also feed in the water of the marine reserve. Endangered fairy terns breed at Pakiri.

Australasian gannets feed all around the coast and sometimes form large flocks above schools of fish. When feeding the gannet folds its wings and dives at great speed into the water, popping up seconds later with its catch if lucky.

Little blue penguins frequent the coastal waters during the day and come ashore at night to their nests.

Pied shags nest above the beach at Goat Island and from the cliff top they can be viewed as they create their nests or feed their young. They also stand on the beach below, drying their wings out after feeding. They sit on dinghies in Leigh and Whangateau Harbours.

Variable oystercatchers feed over rocky reefs, often in pairs. They prod for food with tbright orange beaks. Most local beaches have a few pairs. They nest on the sand and will actively defend their nests. Pied oystercatchers migrate from the south and appear around Whangateau Harbour in late winter and spring. Pied stilts also migrate from the south and can be seen at Whangateau in late summer and autumn.

New Zealand dotterels and banded dotterels are well camouflaged against the sandy beaches where they live. Good places to see them include Pakiri, Tawharanui, Whangateau and Omaha.

Migratory waders such as knots and godwits feed over the sandflats at low tide at Whangateau between September and March.

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