Monday 15 November 2010

Okarito calling

This morning we awoke to rain, good ol’ light wetting West Coast rain!  We had a leisurely breakfast and then headed down to Pancake Rocks, where the rain eased off and we made our way around the walkway looking at the unique limestone formations.  There were lots of white-fronted terns and red-billed gulls nesting out on the stacks, and good numbers of spotted shags roosting on the stacks and fishing out in the waves.  Silvereyes, bellbird, and the odd grey warbler could be seen and heard, and a very friendly weka was acting as usher at the doorway to the information centre.

We then made our way steadily along the coast, through Greymouth, and as the rain came down again decided it really wasn’t worth getting soaked looking for things that would be much more easily seen (and frequently) over the coming days in nicer weather.  So we headed into Hokitika to take a look around, have a coffee, and then lunch.

After lunch we headed southwards again, with the skies gradually starting to brighten, and so we called in to Lake Mahinapua to take a look.  As usual nothing on the lake, but we did have a very curious family of weka (mum, dad and the three kids) and our first brown creeper and South Island tomtit.  As the skies got ever clearer we headed south again, getting nice views of great crested grebe (the Australasian subspecies) along the way.  We arrived into Franz Josef around 4pm, checked in and then headed for dinner, before heading out to Okarito to go out with Ian Cooper from Okarito Kiwi Tours...

I’ve just got in...and boy was it a long night!  In the end we saw several birds REALLY well, but it took a long time.  They were within several metres of the track on several occasions, but just wouldn’t show.  We had calls from both males and females from just 20-25m away several times, and the tension was high.  However, perseverance by Ian and we finally all had excellent views.  Thanks heaps for the hard work and an excellent night Ian!

We headed home knackered, but happy – three out of four targeted kiwi seen, with the fourth being heard.  Not too shabby!  Time for a beer and bed.

Marauding weka about to attack

Young weka looking wet and bedraggled after the wet morning

Bird of the day – Okarito kiwi x6 (for once everyone agrees!)

Day total – Seen = 44 + 2 heard (Morepork, South Island robin); new for the trip = 4; total for the trip to date = 148

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