“In January 2013, I had opportunities to witness the feeding behaviour of White-faced Herons (Ardea novaehollandiae, Maori name: Matuku) while exploring South Island, New Zealand. On 9th January, a heron was foraging among a dense mat of aquatic vegetation along a tidal inlet at Picton (above). It would make occasional but accurate strikes at small crustaceans (shrimp and crabs) that would be appropriate for an appetizer.

“On 10th January, a hungry heron was intently investigating the isolated tide pools just off Marahau. It would employ the foot-stirring technique to flush out any fish or shrimp that may be hiding on/in the sand (above). This heron was particularly successful and was able to capture a number of Sand Flounders (Rhombosolea plebeia, Maori name: Patiki) within a short time.

“Brief video clips of its fishing skills may be previewed above and below.

“On 20th January, I was admiring the sunset over the horizon from the coast of Greymouth (above). As darkness descended, I walked across an open grassy field and was surprised to find a few herons still foraging under such low light conditions. They appeared to be picking out small insects, such as crickets and grasshoppers from amongst the short grass (below).”

Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
17th February 2013

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