Tuesday 8 November 2011

Death to pies!

So after two great nights in Kaikoura it was up and on the road.  The sun was still shining and the wind had eased and we found a stunning male cirl bunting sitting on some telephone wires singing away!  Love it when a plan comes together.  We then cruised down along the beautiful Kaikoura coast, with fur seals and red-billed gulls being pretty common, and then we headed for the hills, heading up and over to towards the start of Christchurch.  On the way we stopped at a small lake and managed to find several pairs of Cape Barren geese and had great views of them, scaup, and managed to get some perched redpolls for a change...even Bruce saw one!

We then headed towards Arthur’s Pass and of course with bellies rumbling from HOURS since breakfast we made a stop at the famous Sheffield Pie Shop.  It was never going to be a quick stop, but by the time we swaggered out of the place the floor was littered with pie crumbs and the pie warmer was looking considerably more empty than when we arrived.  We headed on up towards Arthurs Pass and made a few scenic stops along the way...yes I’m definitely losing my edge.  I might even enquire about a job with Scenic Circle after this tour!

At Arthurs Pass there were quite a few kea at the train station so we made a quick stop to see them in their native habitat (ie. carparks).  Never mind they are damn cool birds anyway.  Then heading to the top we check out a few places for blue duck with no success, but made another stop for kea, before then wrapping over onto the West Coast.  A couple of weka were spied as we drove, so we stopped to admire these before stopping at the Hokitika Sewage ponds.  You’ve just got to check them, but apart from the feral pair of Cape Barren geese nothing else of interest, except a couple of sacup (not hardhead!), and mallards.  We then made another stop for a forest walk to see brown creeper, and the other common forest birds, before getting in to Franz Josef in time for an early dinner.

For once it wasn’t raining (much) and in talking with Ian Cooper it was fine out towards Okarito, so we headed out there after dinner and caught up with South Island tomtit and robin, and a fernbird before meeting up with him and heading out for our Okarito kiwi adventure.  With the usual skill and experience Ian has now amassed we had stonking views of both the male and female of a pair of Okarito brown kiwi at literally spitting distance, and had the male call from right in front of us as well.  A really special night, and the ‘Bird of the Day’ reflects this!  Three out of three kiwi so far...

Bird of the day – Okarito kiwi x7
Day total – Seen = 53 + 2 heard (morepork and long-tailed cuckoo); new for the trip = 6; total for the trip to date = 148

The death of another dozen pies!

You can almost hear the pies screaming!

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