Awoke to a dreary sky and threat of drizzle, but the sun was shining at Miles Better Pies again this morning. With another truck load of pies and sandwiches we lurched back up the road towards Milford Sound, this time with the aim of going right through to do a Milford cruise.
The drizzle started to fall as we got along the road, but we were still on the lookout for falcon and other things as we headed through. So spotting the pair of blue duck on a couple of rocks in the river was a definite bonus, and we had a couple of minutes there watching them preening and standing in the river. Excellent!
At Milford Sound the cloud was pretty low, but we could still make out the top of Mitre Peak, and we boarded our boat and headed out at 10:15am. It didn’t take long and Marvin pointed to a bird in the sky near the walls of the fiord, and it was quickly apparent it was a falcon! A really dark individual and we had really nice views of it circling above the fiord before we got too far away. A great start. A few minutes more and the first of the Fiordland crested penguins were spotted in the water a wee way off, and then shortly after a small pod of four bottlenosed dolphins cruised past giving really good views quite close by.
The scenery was of course stunning and we soaked it all in, literally under a couple of the waterfalls, and with a couple more Fiordland crested in the water we were pretty happy. Towards the end of the Fiord we had a penguin up on the shore and the boat skipper took the boat nose in on the beach and we had great views of it hopping around the rocks. Then shortly after another bird up on the rocks a bit further down.
We neared the end of the Fiord and circled around, and started to rack up a few more penguins in the water, some pretty close and giving great views as they swam about. Then a few fur seals on a regular haulout, and more penguins. Then more penguins in the water, then more, then more. As we neared the end of the cruise by Lady Bowen Falls we were still seeing more penguins, and the last tally was 28 (!) Fiordland crested penguins during the cruise. Awesome!
So we headed back to the vehicle and made our way back through to Homer Tunnel where we dropped a few more pie crumbs, watching kea through the windows in light drizzle, and then continued on through. I spotted another ‘ducky’ shape and turned around to find a beaut male blue duck on a rock. We had absolutely stunning views of it within a few metres, calling, preening and falling asleep! Stunning...another couple of photos for the holiday album! Just cracking birds up close.
Heading on through to Te Anau we had a bit of spare time, before some great local wild venison fried up for an entree before dinner. Lovely!
Bird of the day – Fiordland crested penguin x4, rest TBA
Day total – Seen = 37 + 2 heard (dunnock, brown creeper); new for the trip = 0; total for the trip to date = 151
|Fiordland crested penguin on a rock
|Blue duck calling
|A relaxed duck
|Just keeping my eye on you...in between snoozes!
|The beautiful Milford Sound with Mitre Peak in the centre