Monday, November 12, 2012

Is it wild life or feral life?

What kind of wildlife lives on a beach? Birds. Lots of birds. But on today's long beach hike we also met one of the other residents.

It started with SP taking the lead as we tramped down Karikari beach. With the waves crashing at our side, we trudged along for about four kms.

Our aim was to reach a rehabilitated bird sanctuary located below Karikari estates vineyard. A collection of swamps, lakes, rivers and lots of sand dunes. We knew the sanctuary would also included a number of estuaries. As we got closer to our destination, we realized that we would need to ford a harrowing river in order to carry on.

Though we searched upstream for a dry crossing, it turned out that we would have to get wet. Thankfully, all of us crossed the mighty three inch deep creek successfully. 

Forging on, we finally arrive at the main event, the outlet of the Wairahoraho river. It's a lot deeper than the first river, maybe 5 inches, so we decide to put safety first and call this the turn around point. It's time for lunch.

Before you know it, SM discovers a foot print in the sand. A giant bird print. We follow the prints for awhile, as it wanders around the estuary. The prints are close together, almost like the bird waddles. On speculation, SM think it's an albatross, I think it's a duck and SP thinks it's a dragon, but we really have no idea. Unfortunately, we don't get to see the bird, all we saw were prints. (Photo below.)

There are a few small birds, enjoying the estuary. Oyster catchers and dotterals mostly. Running around on their spindly legs the birds are too skittish for me to get a decent picture. Besides, now that we have spent over a week up here, they are also pretty regular sightings.

At this point we were somewhat disappointed. What was supposed to be a beautiful estuary teaming with life, was really a lot of sand, a trickle of water and some sorry looking shrubs.

We settle on a somewhat grassy dune for lunch and watched the river meander to the sea. The sad looking grasses, exposed to the ocean and the wind, struggle to stay rooted. With the weather, river and dunes constantly changing, it's a wonder anything grows here at all. Lunch is  quiet. SP and I sit listening to the waves and SM is poking around looking for shells. 

And wouldn't you know it, just when things were dullest, SP spots something moving in the water. Following the thalweg upstream is a huge animal. It turns and huffs itself up onto the river bank, shaking water from it's coat. It's big enough to ride (not that you would). After a second it's trotting off into the shrub, tail wagging. It was a boar. Totally dumbstruck, I didn't get a picture. But I can tell you, it looked like this (except it wasn't riding a bike, and it was very much alive):

A book we found at the library. Hunting boar is common up here.

Dragonduckatross prints

Endless sand dunes

The estuary. 

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