This family of royal spoonbills, snapped recently by local Phyllis Lovie, was seen feeding happily in the Village end of the Estuary last weekend, enjoying the sun and the absence of mangroves.
They are now seen in increasing numbers on eastern beaches of the Kaipara having been first seen in the area some 20 years ago.
In 2001 there were 24 and these numbers are now believed to have doubled.
Spoonbills can generally be seen from late autumn well into winter before heading to the South Island to breed.
They feed close to shore and on beaches while wading and repeatedly scythe their submerged spoon-shaped bill left and right in an arc attracting and detecting small crustaceans, small fish, aquatic insects and frogs.
Suitably fed, the spoonbill adopts a somewhat unique resting position often standing on one leg in hunched posture with the head resting over shoulder on back and bill tucked under its feathers.