Wednesday, March 29, 2017



For us folk in New Zealand this "Year of the Flock"is coming to an end. Many of the migratory birds have already departed on their northern migration.

Our endemic species have completed their breeding seasons. The departed Arctic migrants are being replaced with wrybill and South Island oystercatchers who have themselves moved north for the winter.

As for the Flock of gaily painted wooden birds, well, they are going into hibernation for the winter.
However there has been a last flurry of activity to to mark the departure of  the Arctic migrants.

Locally the Port Waikato Flock made an appearance in their sculpture park. Plans are well underway for this Flock to return next Spring, both bigger and brighter than ever.

A little more distant, on Waiheke Island, the Hauraki Classroom packed their birds away as their small flock of godwits departed. They will also reappear next Spring.

There will be some new Flocks next year as various conservation groups have been gifted some "birds"to get them started.

Painted "birds"have been migrating around the country and appearing in many venues. Most recently many of them came to roost in the grounds of the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre. BRaid Aid sent a few of their wrybill to overwinter with our birds. Altogether there were 1400 "birds"on display, coming from local schools, Pippins and Brownies, Devonport Peninsula schools, members of the Birds New Zealand Youth Camp, Waiheke Is. and a big contingent from the Bay of Plenty.

Maybe some of the contributors can recognise their "birds"in the following images.

Special mention should be made of this small Flock from the East Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership Secretariat in S. Korea

Of course there were also many other birds on duty in school yards in New Zealand, Australia and S.Korea. The later giving the initiative an international dimension. There are strong indications that other countries will be starting their own Flocks for the next migration season.


The speed at which the Flock initiative gathered its own momentum was a great surprise. It was never a hard sell. For the young and not so young the art work was rewarding in itself but was also a way of demonstrating commitment  to the conservation of shorebirds.

That it dovetailed so well with many aspects of the school curriculum was a great help. Learning went alongside the fun activity of painting "birds". We have heard many stories of how students have brought their parents and siblings up to speed on shorebird issues!

The large Flock displays that were to result provided wonderful opportunities to meet the public and talk about shorebirds.


The impact would have been so much less without the financial support provided by the Living Waters Partnership between DOC and Fonterra. So many people would have had less colour in their lives if Resene had not so generously provided free paint to all of the participants.

We were also thrilled to receive validation of the initiative from political figures from both NZ and China very early in the project.

Deserving of the greatest praise however are all of the children of NZ, their teachers and support staff, conservation groups and all of the people behind the scenes who supported them. The time that they willingly committed must run into many thousands of hours. The Pukorokoro Miranda Naturalists' Trust would like to thank them for making this initiative such a great success.


This was an awareness campaign and just one of many initiatives, local national and international directed toward the conservation of shorebirds and their habitat. We hope that it has contributed to the general ground swell toward conservation of our natural heritage. If it has helped to move the status of shorebirds to the iconic level of our bush birds then it will have been a job well started.

The title of this post is "The Flock Lives" It is true. Next Spring it will be back and not only in the one place and country where it began.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


This mini-flock started its southern migration on 23rd December 2016 from the Republic of South Korea. Flying in a cardboard box, by airplane their journey time would have been much shorter than for real birds. Perhaps they arrived on Xmas day?
Thanks to the people from the Secretariat of the EAAFP for sending their birds to join FLOCK NZ
Some bear some detailed calligraphy, surely messages of goodwill.

These are just some of the species of shorebird that the FLOCK initiative is all about. The bar-tailed godwits and red knots use the mudflats of the S. Korean Peninsula and other parts of the Yellow Sea as re-fuelling stations, before heading north to breed in the Arctic region.The wrybill are internal migrants using the braided rivers of the central South Island of NZ to breed. Water extraction and the invasion of weeds and predators has reduced the amount and quality of habitat for wrybill.


We need to keep the birds coming so that we can enjoy sights like this!(taken at Pukorokoro Miranda on 15th January 2017)
The Korean mini-flock made its first public appearance at Port Waikato on Saturday 21st January
It was a wonderful collaboration of varied organisations and people of all ages.

The day was organised by Karen Opie of Port Waikato Beach Care and supported by DOC,
and BirdsNZ
and "Art at the Port"
"Paint a Bird"was a major feature

 As a result a new Flock "FLOCK PORT WAIKATO" was hatched. The 60+ birds are now on display at the local sculpture park. it was a great collaboration and special thanks go to Tom from the Resthaven Mens' Shed in Cambridge who made many of the birds.
The Pukorokoro Miranda Flock has been busy over the Christmas period under the wing of different folk in different locations:-

Thanks to Joe and Sietze de Jong who took it to the Paeroa AMP show.As always it attracted people who wanted to know what it was all about so got to know about our shorebirds and their problems.

Another wing of the FLOCK is making an appearance at the Miranda Farm Gallery
On March 6th all the FLOCKNZ members will be gathered together for a massive display in the grounds of the Shorebird Centre. It should be quite something. It is around this time our Arctic migrants start on their northern migration. It was also the time this project was thought to finish. However two new Flocks are being incubated right now, so "Watch this Space"

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


A very happy Christmas from all of the FLOCK folk at Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre.
We were really thrilled with the Xmas message that we made with some of the FLOCK birds.
However the young people of the Port Waikato Beachcare group were way more inventive.
They borrowed some realistic Flock birds to decorate their own unique Xmas tree. Mounted on a float and accompanied by some human oystercatchers it was a prize winner in the Christmas parade.
As a group they are deserving of special mention. Under the wing of Karen Opie they have been caring for nesting shorebirds on this part of the West coast.
New FLOCKS continue to appear like this one from Pukekohe Hill School.
If you are interested in becoming involved it is easy. Just visit .
There are details of how to make birds and the reasons behind the campaign are told in the "Shorebird Stories"

800km east of mainland New Zealand lie the Chatham Islands. Transporting essentials to the Chathams can be expensive. It was wonderful that Hendrik Schultz found a little space among his research gear for the makings of a very distant wing of FLOCKNZ. Below flockmakers from Pitt Island and TeOne School, Chatham Island. Fellow researcher Rebecca is lending a hand cutting out some extra birds after talking about their brown skua research.

Hendrick has been researching Brown Skua for 3 years so another bird species has been added to the FLOCK.
Chatham Island Oystercatcher( photo by Duncan Watson, NZBirdsonline)
Shorebirds on the Chathams face the same threats as those in the rest of NZ. One very special endemic species, the Chatham Island Oystercatcher, fell to a population of just 50. Sustained conservation efforts have helped build the population up to 300.

We are now nearly 9 months into the FLOCK shorebird conservation initiative. It is a good point in time from which to look back. The involvement throughout NZ has been incredible.It is also thrilling to see the international uptake and participation. This blog site records the country of origin of its visitors and this makes interesting reading. These are the countries listed in order of the number of visits to our blog.
NZ, Russia, USA, France, Australia, UK, S. Korea, Ireland, Singapore and Germany.
Of course there are many more countries involved that aren't on this list.
Both Australia
and South Korea
have their own FLOCK. In fact 2 wings in each country. The interest from Russia has been very recent and we would love to hear what's happening up there at the other end of our flyway. Here we are heading into Summer and there they are approaching the shortest day of the year.

We all share the migratory shorebirds. A world without these magnificent creatures is hard to imagine. It is wonderful that so many people do care and want to "keep the birds coming".

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


The children of NZ make an impressive statement on Windsor Reserve, Devonport Peninsula, Auckland City.
Shorebirds cannot speak for themselves so the young people of of NZ have spoken for them.

2500+ "birds" make an impressive sight on Windsor reserve, Devonport. This is a great opportunity for the "minders of the FLOCK' to talk to the many visitors about the reasons behind the FLOCK, both on the reserve and at  special film showings in the Vic cinema.

Sadly each year fewer migratory birds reach NZ. Our endemic shorebirds face threats too, here, rather than overseas.

The students did speak for the birds with their art as did members of the Devonport community.

At  the opening ceremony on Friday the poetry and prose from the children was very moving.
The Navy quartet came along to add their support.

The passing navy ships added a great back drop to the wonderful birds of the FLOCK.

While this Shorebird Festival in Devonport is primarily an awareness campaign, people have been very generous, donating to "Noddy" and also by painting a bird to either join the FLOCK or take away to enhance  their own garden.

While this is a wonderful event the benefits will only show sometime in the future.
 On present trends some of our shorebirds could become close to  extinction during the lifetime of these young people Optimistically, efforts like this will see their populations recovering..
There has been positive news of a new FLOCK in Hawkes Bay and maybe one in Whangarei too.
Tourists from around the world are visiting Devonport and some see the possibilities of this approach to shorebird conservation. Let's not hold our breath but there seems to be a real conservation groundswell out there.

One thing has become clear. The number of photos taken of the FLOCK is well above the 2500 birds in it. These pictures are going all around the world.