My wife and I had a 4-week holiday in the South and Stewart Islands of New
Zealand in February. I used Heather and Robertson's "Field Guide to the
Birds of New Zealand", First Edition 1996. Please note that I saw on the
shelves in New Zealand a second edition with about 6 additional species and
a new short section on where to watch birds. Also published is a "Hand
Guide" version of the same book which omits the detailed species accounts
but includes the new section on localities. I looked in vain in a few
second-hand bookshops for Chambers "Birds of NZ - a Locality Guide". There
is a good natural history second-hand bookshop in New Regent Street,
Christchurch (on the historic tram route).
On Lake Tekapo I saw my first hybrid Black/Black-winged Stilt and saw the
Black itself at Lake Poaka, near Twizel as well as inside the Black Stilt
Centre there. Little Penguin, Stewart Island and Spotted Shags were seen
for the first time at Oamaru Harbour. The Otago Peninsula was good for
nesting Northern Royal Albatross and Yellow-eyed Penguin. At Sinclair
Wetlands, just south of Dunedin, I saw one only Fernbird which obliged me
by perching on a bush.
Stewart Island is near to the South Pole and felt like it. We were lucky
that the evening Brown Kiwi Watch was possible the night we had booked and
saw 2 males on the beach and a female in the bush. The weather was not
kind on Ulva Island with guide, Ron Tindall and although we saw Brown
Creeper, Weka, Kaka, both Parakeets, Tomtit, NZ Robin, Tui and Bellbird, we
did not see the recently introduced Saddlebacks.
NZ Falcons seemed to be relatively common in Fiordland. We saw one on the
lake at Te Anau and several along the Milford Track. We were also lucky to
see a pair of Blue Duck on the river alongside the track. Heather and
Robertson's second edition suggests that the best place for Rock Wren is
the Gertrude Saddle Track near Homer's Pass. I spent 3 sunny hours at the
former and 0.5 hours at the latter location but saw none. Birds were also
scarce at the nearby Lake Gunn Nature Trail. I tried here and near Arthurs
Pass for Yellowhead without success. Great Spotted Kiwi occur in the
valleys near Arthurs Pass and I spent a few evening hours there without
hearing or seeing any.
I went out on two afternoon Oceanwings pelagics at Kaikoura and saw
Westland, White-chinned, Northern Giant and Cape Petrels, (White-capped and
Salvin's) Shy Albatross, (Pacific and Campbell I.) Black-browed Albatross,
Southern Royal, Buller's and Wandering Albatross, Buller's, Sooty and
Hutton's Shearwater. Sightings are better there in winter.
Altogether I saw 85 species among which were 13 new ones. Please do not
hesitate to contact me for further information.
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