It has been a great summer for the wetland and wading birds living in our harbour, and for the people who watch them.
Last week on the Waikareao walkway, I saw a rare spotless crake slipping beneath the mangroves.
More frequently I hear the calls and glimpse the shy banded rails and the elusive fern birds.
It is likely that the increased rat control carried out around the margins of the estuaries is protecting these birds.
For this I am grateful to the volunteers of predator-free New Zealand and council's rat control.
A bittern has been booming in our estuary, a young bird, the Department of Conservation tells us, which will be looking for a mate.
Beyond the mangroves, spoonbills can sometimes be seen sweeping the shallow water with their bills and further out, flocks of migrant birds are feeding on the mud and sand flats. The largest numbers are bar-tailed godwits from the northern hemisphere and South Island pied oyster catchers, which come north for the summer.
All these birds come to our harbour to eat the worms, crabs and shellfish, supported by the growth of algae which in turn are nourished by the nutrient-rich detritus flowing from local mangroves, saltmarsh and sea grass, and algae imported by each tide.
Mangroves may make bird-watching more challenging but they greatly enhance the productivity and bird life in our harbour.
Re D Phillips' letter (March 20) about toilet paper. I too was brought up in London, England in the 1930s and 1940s. Toilet paper was sold in rolls the same as it is today.
I believe the company that supplied the toilet rolls my mother bought was called San Izal. After using a certain number of sheets, a coloured picture of a scene from a nursery rhyme would emerge.
This delighted children but annoyed parents as children unrolled more of the toilet roll than was necessary to get to the nursery rhyme.