Birdwatch: This time of the year is a great time to watch kingfishers finding food at the Waikanae River estuary, writes photographer Roger Smith.
While kingfisher, also known as kotare, can be spotted anywhere around the Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve, the best and most reliable place to see them is at the Waimanu Lagoon outlet near the Tutere St carpark.
Late afternoon when the outgoing tide has exposed the mudflats is a good time to see them, as they hunt for small crabs and small fish in the shallow water.
Around the outlet there are railings which make a useful perching place, and the concrete wall around the outlet is a favourite spot too.
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An old tree stump that sticks out of the mud at low tide is also a good place to see the more brightly coloured male bird every so often.
Unlike many kingfishers, the ones at Waikanae are used to people walking by and just continue with their fishing oblivious of the attention they are getting.
A quiet approach will often get people within a few metres for spectacular views of their colourful plumage as they dive for fish below.
The kingfishers usually spend the winter months at the estuary, leaving around mid-October for the forest and upper river valleys for nesting.