Solitary spotted shag left behind

Spotted shags and a few red-billed gulls roost in the Andersons Bay inlet this month. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Spotted shags and a few red-billed gulls roost in the Andersons Bay inlet this month. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Only one spotted shag remains of the feathered ''fishing fleet'' which flew into Dunedin recently to munch on mullet and roost.

It was unusual for the big flocks of spotted shags to spend more than a few hours in Otago Harbour but this time they stayed for four days, ornithologist Dr Jill Hamel said.

While the rest had flown off, one solitary shag remained on the roost near eastern Marne St in the Andersons Bay inlet.

''It's sitting there all on its own but it'll probably fly off soon.''

The rocky inlet was a safe place for the fishing fleet of birds to rest, sleep and conserve energy, she said. The ''cloud'' of birds was likely to have been feeding on young yellow-eyed mullet.

With the flock gone, the ''regulars'' had returned to their usual roosting spots, she said.

The species that had been seen roosting there recently included black-backed gulls, black oyster-catchers, little shags, spoonbills, pied stilts, paradise ducks and red-billed gulls.

''At high tide, it's extremely well used, with up to 10 species on it.''

Since the roost was constructed in 2009, she had seen 14 species of birds use the it, Dr Hamel said.

The greatest number of different species she had seen using the roost at one time was nine, she said.

Usually, a dozen birds roosted on the rocks and having so many birds flocking would have surprised some locals.

''It would have been a shock to the residents.''


Interesting. There is a large colony of Spotted Shags that roost on the old wooden wharf in Oamaru Harbour and another of Stewart Island Shags at the end of the breakwater on the same harbour. Oddly, the two species do not mix. Are these permanent residents or are they just passing through?

The surface of the old wooden wharf where the Spotted Shags roost is covered in small round pebbles. Do these and the Shags go together in some way?


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