Just had a pleasant couple of weeks in the South
Island, visiting friends,drinking them dry, pottering
around and seeing what turned up.
There were a few highlights
The Kaikoura pelagic was interesting, a calm day, good
for poor sailors like us, not so good for a variety of
prions, peterls and storm-petrels, but we were pretty
pleased with 8 species of albatross, including
Southern Royal, a first for us, Westland Petrel and
Northern Giant Petrel. Also 600+ leaping Dusky
dolphins (isn't that a Christmas song?)
A trip to Motuara Island in the Marlborough Sounds was
great, not only SI Robin and Wood Pigeon, but adult
and immature Saddleback and a King Shag on the way
there. Thoroughly recommended trip.
Lake Rotoiti wasn't on our original agenda, but we saw
that it was a 'mainland sanctuary' where intesive
predator control has taken place, inluding wasps which
comnpete for the beech honeydew, required by the
native birds. Saw Kaka and NZ Falcon here, plus Tui,
Bellbird, Paradise Shelduck, and a roosting Morepork
sat outside a hollow. A great spot and impressive work
We spent a bit of time with friends around Blenheim,
not somewhere to look for any native vegetation, but
Wairau bar nearby yielded quite a few birds, including
variable oystercatcher, kingfisher and an assortment
It was bucketing down at Okarito so we didn't spend
much time being sand blasted on the beach, but saw
Brown Creeper and Banded Plover, and heard Fernbird
but couldn't entice it out, and who could blame it?
We had a couple of days at the glaciers and were lucky
enough to have exeptional views of two NZ falcons sat
o a rock, as well as Keas.
The Hapuka estuary looked like a good spot for
Fernbird, but we had to be content with White Heron.
We caught up with Rifleman on the Haast Pass, one of
our favourites for the trip, but pretty quiet overall,
the scenery made up for it though.
Stopped at Twizel and Lake Pukaki to search for Scaup
and Black Stilt and found both. Saw 6 adult, juv. and
imm. stilts feeding in the wetland just to the north
of the lake, down to 10 foot as they were using the
car as a wind break. All banded.
Then a quick dash to Oamaru and nearly got caught out
by the Yellow-eyed Penguins which come in pretty
early. Great to watch them on the beach, calling and
preening, and in the surf, for an hour rather than
dashing straight up the beach.
Managed to find a hide at Lake Ellesmere but being
surrounded by Mute Swan, willows, brown trout and
English weeds and flowers, found it a bit too much
like Gloucestershire and left!
If anyone would like any detail on where we found any
birds that's fine.
Where the flora is intact the vegetation is stunning,
particularly on the west coast and we spent a lot of
time id'ing plants as well as birds. The sauvignon was
pretty good as well!
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