Low tide at Island Bay and the rocks were exposed, the seaweeds on them looking gorgeous.
Then my attention was caught by another favourite of mine - one of the beach's resident variable oystercatchers (toreapango, or Haematopus unicolor). I love their bright orange beaks and eyes and their confident busy-ness.
This one had been peep peep peeping at some gulls, as if asserting its space on the rocks, then it went off foraging. On rocks a little way out it had its beak down in the seaweed. Then I saw it on the sand.
Success! An oystercatcher with an oyster.
And off to find more goodies.
They eat a lot as revealed in this interview - http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/native-animals/birds/interviews-about-new-zealand-birds/oystercatcher/ and of course despite their name they eat a lot of tasty morsels, not just oysters.
Oystercatchers are wading birds found in coastal regions world-wide, and the different species are very alike. The variable oystercatcher is endemic to New Zealand - it is just found here. Although the population has increased since it was estimated to be around 3,500 in 1994, it is still rare. This bird is one of a pair who live on this part of the beach. They will be nesting now. Each year a chick is produced. It grows up and departs but the parents stay, and we get to enjoy them.