Kāruhiruhi Spotting / by Elise Manahan

A Kāruhiruhi or pied shag rests on a barnacle covered rock during low tide at Piha Beach in Auckland, New Zealand. (Elise Marie Photography)

A Kāruhiruhi or pied shag rests on a barnacle covered rock during low tide at Piha Beach in Auckland, New Zealand. (Elise Marie Photography)

The first time I spotted a Kāruhiruhi, which is Maori for a pied shag, on the beach at Piha I was taken in by the austere manner and bright yellow marking on its face. While most seabirds take flight when I approach to take a photo this fellow did not seem to mind if I came a bit closer to admire its feathers. I’m an absolute novice when it comes to birds but I like to think that I made up for that with admiration and interest. Moving to New Zealand has offered a complete change from the birds I know back home. I used to wake up to cardinals, blue jays, crows and woodpeckers eating from feeders outside my window. In Auckland I wake up to the sounds of seagulls, blackbirds and tuis calling to one another in the morning. I was interested to read about the New Zealand Bird Atlas, a five-year long project that asks people help map and report birds they spot around New Zealand. I think I will have to keep my eyes peeled and follow along to see what other incredible birds I have yet to discover here.