Best Birding

Subject: Best Birding
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 95 08:46:10 EST
     Merry Christmas, God Bless Us Everyone!
     In contrast to a quiet, almost boring birding year, my recent visit to 
     Tiri Tiri Matangi Island (an open bird sanctuary) just north-east of 
     Auckland produced some excellent views of birds I'd never seen before.
     Tiri is a small island in Hauraki Gulf being revegetated in a 
     long-term program to provide habitat for NZ bird species on the brink 
     of survival.  On a short day visit there I saw NZ honey eaters such as 
     the Tui (a shiny blue-black wattle bird like honey eater with 
     attitude; Saddle-backs (similar size with russet back); Bellbirds (a 
     greenish bell miner, but with a melodious call); and the piece de 
     resistance, the allegedly 10th most endangered bird in the world, the 
     Stitch bird (The male a bit like a New Holland Honeyeater, but 
     distinctly different). 
     After seeing the female making frantic forays from the nestbox with 
     four nestlings (I was told there were four nestlings - the box is 
     checked very regularly, there is a huge ladder next to the tree) I 
     came across the male preening himself in a very relaxed way.  After 
     having good views of the bird for about ten minutes, I came upon him 
     later (the leg bands gave him away) having the best bath in a little 
     creek.  Later I saw another male (leg bands again) preening himself 
     for some time.
     Other birds seen there included the Weka, and the Takahe (a very 
     endangered short butch equivalent of a purple swamp hen).
     After a week of being surrounded by aerial vermin (I have never seen 
     so many sparrows, mynahs and starlings) a short sojourn in some bush 
     with real birds in it was a great delight.
     If you are in the North Island of NZ, a visit to Tiri is a MUST.
     I have some details if anyone wants further information.
     Thanks also to those who helped me either directly or indirectly to 
     make some good contacts in NZ that got me to Tiri.
     Merry Christmas and a Preposterous New Year
          Paul Fennell

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