This morning we started with a visit to the Manawatu Estuary. This place is completely unbiasedly known as THE best wader site in the country (of course that is Sav’s opinion!). The tide was lowish, so most of the birds were spread out over the mudflats, with good numbers of bar-tailed godwit and red knot, a few scattered wrybill and 11 Pacific golden plover. Amongst other things we spent some time searching for the now long-staying glossy ibis pair (no luck) and the little tern seen by Sav earlier in the week (nope!). Nevermind, the weather was good and there was more than enough to look at.
We then headed slowly down the coast towards Wellington, with a brief stop at Waitarere Beach (no wandering tattler present – looks like the luck was wearing off!). However, at Lake Horowhenua we found the two cattle egret in stonking breeding plumage looking very smart. A quick check of the lake itself revealed no noteworthy waterfowl, although there was plenty of grey teal, shoveler, and cormorants.
We then grabbed some lunch at Otaki and ate it beside the Otaki Sewage ponds. Again good numbers of waterfowl including at least 8 dabchick with some very close views, and a lot of grey teal, shoveler, etc. Just as well we had made the effort to see black-fronted dotterel near Napier as there was quite surprisingly none on the ponds.
We checked in to the ferry just on 1pm, after a brief stop at the Paekakariki Steam Engine Museum where Malcolm and John were like kids in a candy shop! The ferry crossing was windy, but seas calm and we had a few birds come past, with several white-capped and a Salvin’s albatross, moderate numbers of Westland petrels, a few flesh-footed and sooty shearwaters, and fairy prions. In the sounds we managed a King shag from the ferry (which is not usually managed) and had a few spotted shags, and two Arctic skua amongst the usual suspects. A nice crossing and the weather looks good again for tomorrow.
Bird of the day – ‘Whistling petrel’ x2 (Ruth oh Ruth...),Westland petrel x1, Cattle egret x2, Steam engine 482 wheel arrangement x1 (this is turning into a circus!)
Day total –
Seen = 61 + 3 heard (grey fantail, grey warbler, common redpoll); new for the trip = 4; total for the trip to date = 132