Saturday, 5 November 2011

Windy Sounds

A late start this morning to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Waikawa Bay.  The sun was shining but the wind was still blowing.  We headed down to the Picton Marina head out on the Dolphin Watch Ecotours trip out onto Queen Charlotte Sound.  We headed out into the strong winds, but due to the narrow Queen Charlotte Sound the waves weren’t too big.  We headed past a couple of likely spots of King shag, our target bird this morning, but nothing, so kept heading out.  As we got out a little further we spotted a King shag in the water and had really nice close views of him sitting in the water.

We then headed off out further and spotting a few fluttering shearwaters and gannets, decided we would head on out to White Rocks.  It was pretty bumpy and a lot of spray, but we made it out to White Rocks and had great views of about 40 King shags roosting on the rocks.  Having satiated everyone’s need for good views, we headed back into Motuara Island where we had a short walk up to the watering hole.  There were a few saddleback calling around the place, but with a howling wind nothing made itself obvious, although we did get nice views of pigeon, bellbird, and South Island robin.  Lots of onion orchids in flower on the sides of the track.

We then headed slowly back up the sound, spotting probably the same King shag on the way, as well as a bunch of spotted shags, and other bits and bobs.  We had a nice sheltered scone and coffee watching a nesting colony of pied and spotted shags, before heading back in to Picton.

We then hit the road and headed south, and checked out the Waihopai Valley.  We ate our lunch on the side of the road searching for the resident black kite (having not heard any news of the bird being around for a while).  There were plenty of harriers around the place, but no sign of the kite for a while...until it spiralled up over some trees near us and then right over the top of us.  Brilliant!  Fantastic views of the bird as it headed off up the valley.

We then carried on to Lake Grassmere where we had great views of a couple of wrybill and several stonking male banded dotterels, then off towards Kaikoura.  Brief stop at Ohau Point for spotted shags in breeding plumage and on nests, plus a few furry marine mammals on the rocks, and then checked into the accommodation.  Fish and chips for dinner and then out to look for little owl on the local roads.  Success with great views of a bird on a fence ahead of us for a minute or so.  Great!

Bird of the day – TBA
Day total – Seen = 50 + 1 heard (peafowl); new for the trip = 7; total for the trip to date = 135

Onion orchid on Motuara Island

The whole plant

Black kite!

Bruce taking photos of birds!

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