Well a pretty excellent first day. Sunny blue skies, light breezes and great birds to start the tour off, and then an awesome home-cooked dinner before heading out for kiwi tonight. We started by checking out the Mangere area for waders, getting a number of waterfowl, including Paradise shelduck, Pacific black duck, Australasian shoveler, and of course the ubiquitous mallard. A large flock of bar-tailed godwit with red knot were also out on the mud as the tide dropped, and several distant wry bill (BVD – better views desired) put in an appearance. Sacred kingfisher, swamp harrier, and great cormorant were seen in rapid succession, and abundant welcome swallows and introduced blackbirds, song thrushes, and spotted dove were also found.
Moving on through the western suburbs of Auckland we headed to Muriwai Beach to see the scenically placed Australasian gannet colony. Lots of birds were in attendance, mostly with eggs, although one chick about two weeks old was spotted. White-fronted terns were displaying and courting with males flying around with fish in their bills, despite some already being on eggs on their cliff-site nests. A massive flock of feeding gannets could also be seen well offshore, but alas no sign of any marine mammals feeding with them.
Heading northwards we made a quick stop for New Zealand grebe (dabchick), NZ scaup, grey teal and our first grey warblers (gerygone), before then heading off again and finding the often seen reef egret at Waiwera estuary. A pair of Caspian terns also flew overhead.
We basically then headed northwards with the intention of getting to our accommodations near Trounson in the early afternoon, so that we could rest up before dinner. A calling shining bronze cuckoo soon put pay to that though (!), and we all had great views of the bird being chased by a grey fantail – something that has been reported on www.birdingNZ.net twice in the last week or so. Grey warblers, grey fantails and the odd tui, as well as the usual introduced species, made the hour or so before dinner an enjoyable one.
After dinner we headed out in the search for Northern brown kiwi...they didn’t come easy, but they did come! I have never heard kiwi calling so much, we had at least three male calls followed closely by female calls (several at very close range), and then many male calls that went without female responses. A lot of morepork calling too. In the end we had views of two kiwi at relatively close range, and heard several others scuffling through the undergrowth further in. Topped off with cave weta, banded kokupu (a native fish), and long-finned eel a pretty nice evening. Even time for a little star-gazing with scope views of Jupiter and its moons...in all a pretty awesome first day on tour with the team.
PS. sending this parked on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere just so I could get cell phone reception!
|Muriwai Beach on a good day is unbeatable!
|The motley bunch
|White-fronted terns doing aerial courtship
|Gannets, gannets, and more gannets!
|Australasian gannet coming in over the colony
Bird of the day –
Northern brown kiwi x 3, shining bronze-cuckoo x 3
Day total –
Seen = 54 + 1 heard (morepork)