Sunday 7 November 2010

Life is like a stuffed sausage...

Off again, with a bakery stop as we left the Motel (still no Mussel pies!).  The comment was made about getting lunch only minutes after having breakfast, but I find it a useful way of decreasing the average spend for the lunch bill... ;)

We headed back across the Coromandel Peninsula, with another ripper of a day.  Stopping quickly at Whangamarino I was disappointed not to have a bittern before the troops were out of the van, and it actually took us almost 25 minutes or so to get one - thanks Ruth!  The bird was very distant and then decided to hide again, but another was found shortly afterwards, and we even heard one booming a few times.  A three-day bittern tour can’t be bad, with this being our third day we’ve had this species.  For day seven of the tour I think that maybe a record!  A good selection of ducks and cormorants were also around, as well as the usual finches, and a male pheasant.  A Caspian tern flying over the swamp made for slightly unusual viewing, although they do occur in this area on a regular basis.

We then headed towards Pirongia.  I’d told my guys about a birder who I had the pleasure of having on a NZ tour last Nov/Dec – Barry from Sydney.  We had stopped at a little cafe in Pirongia for coffee and a mid-morning snack, only to find Baz had discovered a culinary delight known as the ‘stuffed sausage’.  Following the consumption of this aforementioned treat, Baz almost contemplated moving to Pirongia in order to be close to this establishment and it’s delights.  The guys on this tour were intrigued, and you could almost feel the tension in the air as we approached Pirongia...what if they had run out, what if the cafe was closed??  It was open, stuffed sausages were purchased, and the first comment out was “Nothing to write home about!”.  Gee what a tour leader aye, king of the anti-climax!  Oh well, just as well I can find a sharp-tailed sandpiper!
So we headed on towards Pureora where we planned to spend most of the afternoon.  We checked out a site that overlooked a large area of young pines and decided this was a good place to have lunch, plenty of area to survey should a falcon or long-tailed cuckoo decide to fly past.  Lunch was nice, but alas none of the targets, except for our first visible dunnock and several NZ pipit.  Common redpoll flew overhead also.  After lunch we headed through some beaut forest stopping every now and then to listen and look, with brief views of tomtit, kaka, and robin, and even the ‘plinking’ of Eastern rosella.  We headed back in towards Pureora and made a quick stop at a picnic site, where we briefly heard long-tailed cuckoo, but strangely the forest was quiet of their calls.  We headed towards the forest tower, but came to a grinding holt with a female falcon flying out from the forest, almost overhead and giving excellent views as she headed off almost a kilometre, spiralled up into the sky and then flew back over us diving down into the forest.  Great!  We carried on to the tower, seeing a lot of flying kaka, but still no sound from a cuckoo...of the long-tailed variety, with several shining bronze cuckoos being heard.  At the tower we had good views out over the forest, but not a lot in the way of birds, before heading along some of the roads with eyes and ears peeled.  A lot more kaka, several great tomtit viewings, and a really beaut little male rifleman that decided to come out when one of our party took a small break...typical!

We then headed out of the forest park and off towards Taupo, with a brief stop for common coot on the way, seeing some lovely grey teal in perfect light, shoveler, paradise duck with ducklings, and a few other bits and bobs.  Dinner in Taupo on the lake front, with snow on the mountains.

The search for the stuffed sausage!

Bird of the day – Rifleman x4, kaka x2

Day total – 
Seen = 56 + 3 heard (shining bronze and long-tailed cuckoo, fernbird); new for the trip = 7; total for the trip to date = 119

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