Final day of this New Zealand adventure, and today is more seabirds, shorebirds, and waterbirds. Map here.
The White Heron (Ardea modesta, kotuku) is considered by some authorities to be a subspecies of the cosmopolitan Great Egret (A. alba), but New Zealand ornithologists are notorious “splitters” and have given it species status. And there are some morphological and behavioral differences to support that decision. They are a critically endangered species in New Zealand, with one known breeding site (approximately 30 pairs of birds) in the Okarito lagoon. After the breeding season they disperse widely across the country, but since there are less than 200 of these birds in the entire population, your best bet for seeing one is to go to Okarito and take a leisurely boat tour of the lagoon.