Up and away early, we still had to try for Baillon’s crake again, and further views of black stilt were on offer. So we left the accommodation at 0700 hrs and headed off towards Twizel. Some more nice scope views of black stilt, this time without the rain. It threatened, but thankfully didn’t come. We then headed to look for Baillon’s crake again, this time without the pouring rain. However, the early morning and dry skies didn’t seem to make a difference, and trying several spots we had to admit defeat! So it was then on the road and heading for Christchurch.
We discussed the highlights of the trip along the way, with most agreeing that the Stewart Island pelagic and the clouds of albatross around the boat was a top contender. Also featuring was the Hauraki Gulf pelagic (with the greater diversity of species, including of course NZ storm-petrel) and the falcon experience at Boundary Stream. All in all an excellent trip, and I hope one that will be remembered for a long time.
Last night we had all done our top five bird species of the trip (surprisingly no pies made it), but the top contender, well in the lead, was the Southern brown kiwi on Stewart Island. This had obviously left an impression on all. Tied for second and third place were wrybill and North Island kokako, with NZ falcon a close fourth, and Southern Royal albatross coming in at fifth place. All this information, along with the daily checklist, and trip report will be posted on our Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ website in the next few days...when I get some sleep and some time!
As we rolled northwards we crossed the Ashburton River where there was probably about 1000 black-billed gulls nesting just below the SH1 road bridge. An awesome spectacle, and nice finish to the tour. We arrived at the motel in Christchurch, checked in, and unloaded the vehicle and said our good-byes.
I then got back on the road and headed through to Kaikoura to catch up with Jo and Alex at Encounter Kaikoura. Had a quick coffee and caught up with them for a bit and then back in the saddle to get to Picton in time for the 1805 ferry sailing. Not even any time for Grassmere or the Blenheim sewage ponds!
Spent a bit of time outside on the ferry. Slight seas with a bit of wind, but not a lot around. Did see a single Westland petrel, single Cape petrel, small flock of 6 sooty shears, a few fairy prion, a single distant great albatross, and two white-capped albatross...guess that's not bad for half an hour! Overnighting with friends Nick and Sherylene in Wellington.
Trip total -
161 species, plus heard great-spotted kiwi.