A Typical Day at the Water Treatment Plant

This weekend, we went to one of the most popular birding spots in Auckland: the Mangere Wastewater Treatment Plant. This facility borders the Manukau Harbor, attracting shorebirds, and has a long canal and a large pond, perfect for waterfowl. Nearly 80 species have been seen there, but because of the less-than-picturesque surrounds, M is not a fan of going there. However, today the weather was unusually nice, perfect for some photography!

We timed our visit to be just after high tide: as the tide goes out, the birds descend to feast on the critters in the mud. Too close to low tide, though, and they are too far away to see. As we drove along the canal we could see tons of birds to the left, splashing in the wastewater canal, and to the right, poking about in the mud.

We cruised along the canal to the main pond, where we discovered more birds as well as a ton of bugs. Hundreds of welcome swallows feasted on the bugs, swooping over the water; I copied them by nearly inhaling a bug. The pond held at least three different types of ducks, plus swans, dabchicks, seagulls, and even a diving Caspian tern.

pond
Hordes of swallows and ducks.

M was on photography duty and tried to sneak close to the waterfowl and swallows. They were wary, though: the ducks just cruised further into the pond and the swallows fluttered to a nearby fence.

At this point, a cold drizzle started to fall and we headed back to the car. Our last spot at the pond were some silvereyes investigating orange flowers. Since these birds are small, green, and usually spend their time darting about in trees, it was a treat to see them so clearly.

silvereye
A cute, but elusive, silvereye!

After leaving the water treatment plant, we quickly stopped in at a nearby lagoon. Most of it was drained since the tide was out, but seagulls and oystercatchers were still hanging around in the mud. As we watched, two large spoonbills landed, scaring away the smaller birds and filtering the water with their strange beaks.

spoonbills
Royal spoonbills.

Our last stop of the day (well, besides the grocery store) was at Ambury Farm Park. Since it is winter here, there were no cute baby animals, just a few sheep, goats, and a giant pig. To stave off loneliness, the lone turkey had made some friends with other bird species.

We saw over 30 bird species today, not bad for a quick trip out!

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