While all the posts I see in the blog (when I can bring myself to read it and let’s face it, that isn’t often at the best of times) are about spring and migrants and birds that are so gauche they actually dress in pink, here in New Zealand we are experiencing the start of winter. Don’t mind me. Just keep posting about how great things are. I don’t mind, because a, as I noted, I don’t read your posts anyway, and b, I’ll have my revenge come November.

Well, maybe January.

cold and wet

Actually, we just came off the best summer I have ever experienced. Sure, the complete absence of rain for most of it did a number on the farmers, left Wellington with barely twenty days of water and meant we couldn’t have outdoor fires, but it was nice. For. A. Change. Of course, we paid for that. Usually we are so traumatized by the relentless misery of summer we barely notice the change of seasons. This time, however, there was a shift. One day, it seemed, it was summer. Then it wasn’t, and once again those of us not born in this country cursed the fact that Kiwis seem unable to grasp the concept of insulation.


The birds don’t dramatically change in winter here either, or at least so much as you might notice. Seabirds do vary quite a bit, if you happen to risk swells to go out to sea, but sadly that doesn’t happen as much as I might imply so as I make to make Corey jealous. We lose most of our shorebirds from the northern hemisphere, but again, I don’t get to many estuaries to check.

Variable Oystercatcher

 Variable Oystercatchers are a constant here.

We do have a certain amount of intra island migration, but not in huge numbers. Most of teh species that do this are uncommon, so while you might find a Wrybill in WEllington in winter, you’d be lucky. As for landbirds, only two migrate, and both of them are cuckoos, and I have seen cuckoos about four times in the seven years I have lived here, so again it isn’t a pattern I’d notice. So the changes of the seasons don’t really bring the excitement you’d get on the continents.


Weta don’t migrate either.

Of course, this des mean that we can enjoy birds year round. I made it to Karori Wildlife Sanctuary the other day, and all my friends were there. Kaka entertained tourists, Takahe cropped the grass, Brown Teal, uh, do whatever it is that they do.


If Takahe could migrate it would be on foot.

Anyway, am I jealous? Not really. I’m getting my change of season fix this year by taking a long weekend in Sydney next week. So I’ll get my variety that way. And how many places in the world can you take long weekends in Australia from? Not many!

outside fairywren

A Variagated Fairy-wren awaits me, for sure!

So enjoy your spring, your long days and your unfashionable pink birds. I’ll take this instead.

Winter sunrise

Wellington in winter, from my house.

Written by Duncan
Duncan Wright is a Wellington-based ornithologist working on the evolution of New Zealand's birds. He's previously poked albatrosses with sticks in Hawaii, provided target practice for gulls in California, chased monkeys up and down hills Uganda, wrestled sharks in the Bahamas and played God with grasshopper genetics in Namibia. He came into studying birds rather later in life, and could quit any time he wants to.