This morning we headed east towards Hawkes Bay, and with a few spots of rain it looked like it might be a bit drizzly up at Boundary Stream. Or at least that was the impression, until this tinny lot stepped out of the vehicle and the cloud gradually started to thin and the sun come out! Someone has been doing the right dance in the morning! On the way in a long-tailed cuckoo had zipped across the road in front of us, giving a quick glimpse...definitely BVD (better views desired).
Within a few minutes Ruth had spotted a kokako, and we were then treated to stonking views of the male sitting in the open singing, whilst the female collected tree fern scales and other fine material to line her nest. Wow! We headed along one of the tracks, but there was not a sound from a long-tailed cuckoo, the bird I really wanted to get here. We quickly started to see the other more common forest species – whitehead, robin, bellbird, tui, and pigeon – as well as flitting rifleman and heard the odd tomtit. And then we heard it – a calling long-tailed cuckoo. It was a we way away, but from a vantage point we could see out towards where it was. Then another called. After 20-odd minutes we had managed fleeting glimpses of the bird flying rapidly, but nothing substantial...this was going to be a test. We heard a flying falcon at one point also, but it too did not show. The cuckoos then seemed to shut-up completely, so we carried on. A bit further along we suddenly heard the familiar call of NZ falcon, and I quickly searched the nearby trees, but couldn’t find it until a few seconds later it flew. Circling, the female then came back and perched right above us, with 20m and sat there preening and looking out over her domain. The male was clearly nearby, but out of sight, but for 15 minutes or more we watched her through the scope – it really doesn’t get any better than this! After a while she flew off and circled calling and the male joined her. The male did several VERY low passes over our heads, clearly indicating they were nesting, so we decided to get out of their way and leave them too it. What an awesome experience to have a pair of falcon just metres from you, being able to watch them fly at such close quarters and run around in the trees...amazing to see them running up branches and hopping around.
We carried on, seeing rifleman, more whitehead, robins, and several tomtits, plus a lot of shining bronze cuckoo calling, and then headed back to the carpark. We drove a few minutes down the road to have lunch and stopped at a spot I thought the long-tailed cuckoo had been calling near, which gave us a great view over the forest. Nothing...damn! So I was coerced into trying my best cuckoo impersonation...still nothing...double damn!! Except an immature falcon suddenly appeared, sitting in a big snag for quite some time and again allowing scope views. About five minutes later all hell broke loose, with a long-tailed cuckoo flying out over us calling loudly with a tui hot on it’s tail! Most got a good view of it before it looped round and went back into the trees. Better than nothing, but still couldn’t find it perched despite the odd call coming from the general direction. Another short wait and the bird then flew out over our heads and round in another big loop before disappearing again...I think that was going to be it. We waited a bit longer, but the bird stopped calling and didn’t show itself again, so we decided to quit while we were ahead.
We decided the afternoon should be spent on a mad twitch, and so headed down towards Napier. On the way we added rook to the list, with several birds flying over paddocks, and swinging past Lake Tutira we saw little black shag, and a few waterfowl. We headed straight for the Ahuriri Estuary where within seconds I had the long-staying grey-tailed tattler in the scope, as well as 15 Pacific golden plover and a few godwit. Love it when a plan comes together. Over on the Westshore lagoon we had beaut views of stunning breeding plumage Royal spoonbill, with big shaggy crests and lovely saffron colouration to the breast. Barbara thought they looked like they need a haircut, especially when the wind blew their ‘hair’ back over their faces. Out on the scrapes we had cracking views of black-fronted and banded dotterel which seemed to fly in and land in front of us on que. Black-fronted dot in mint plumage really is a stunning little thing!
We checked to see if anything else was around and then slowly headed back towards Taupo, with a coffee stop on the way. The mountains were visible with nice light at the end of the lake, so a quick photo stop and then on to Turangi. We stopped in near the southern shore of Lake Taupo and had nice views of a pair of fernbird within a few metres, crawling around in the undergrowth like little mice and showing well in branches of the kanuka and other shrubs. Another good day!
PS. Been trying to make a movie of some of the footage of the falcons I got today, but Windows Live Movie Player keeps crashing when saving...typical!
|The star of the day - NZ falcon!
|The happy crew - we may not have seen a kiwi, but boy did we see falcons!
Bird of the day – NZ falcon x3, black-fronted dotterel x2, fernbird x1
Day total – Seen = 58 + 5 heard (pheasant, Indian peafowl, shining bronze cuckoo, morepork, dunnock); new for the trip = 6; total for the trip to date = 125