A crested tern rarely seen in New Zealand has been spotted on Whanganui's North Mole.
Photographer Lynne Douglas went to the mole to see rough seas on October 22 and she noticed a strange tern with a yellow bill.
Birds New Zealand regional representative Peter Frost said it was probably blown west from Australia by a low pressure system on October 4-6.
They are coastal birds of southern Africa, the Indian Ocean, Indonesia and Australia and this sighting could be just the 14th accepted record of its presence in New Zealand.
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Last week there were also a group of 32 godwits, mostly juveniles hatched this year during the Arctic summer - most likely in Alaska. A few see out a New Zealand summer in our estuary, but most move on to better food sources.
Slugs of fine silt periodically cover the creatures that birds feed on at the estuary, making "feeding conditions pretty dire for a time," Frost said.
"Despite the degraded stated of that estuary it seems to still occasionally act as a stopover point."