Monday, 12 November 2012

In search of the peripatus

Up and leaving the Coromandel Peninsula early, but not before dropping a few more pie crumbs at the local bakery.  Oliver’s definitely do a good pie, but there is more to come in the botoom of the South Island!  Another beautiful sunny day and we headed back up and across the mountain range.  We decided it was worth while calling back to see if we could find any bittern this morning.  We checked a couple of likely spots, but nothing, and then at our best spot we all stood and scanned.  Not looking good guys…theres one!  Awesome, there was a bird feeding on the side of a small pool, within seconds it was in the scope and everybody was on to it.  We all had good views of it, before a harrier flew over and pied stilts were getting agitated.  The bittern froze and raised its head straight up, and then moments later took flight.  It landed a little way away, but was still visible for some time, so all in all an excellent result.

We then started a long trek in to Pureora Forest.  We passed through some lovely rolling countryside, and before long had enetered into falcon country.  Pretty much the rest of the trip we are in falcon country, but the first day or so is always exciting and eyes are constantly scanning.  They can turn up anywhere so no chance for day-dreaming!

We made it to Pureora around midday and setup for lunch.  I commented that a falcon was bound to turn up whilst somebody was in the bathroom…there was definitely some hesitation in using it.  We ate our lunch in the sunshine, getting good views of tomtit feeding nearby, silvereye, whitehead, etc and hearing yellow-crowned parakeet.  Then the last person to use the bathroom was in there and a falcon flew towards us, then circled almost above us, and then drifted off to the south.  Luckily it hung around long enough for Lee to make it out and get a good view, of what was probably a female.  Love it when a plan comes together.

We then decided to head for a short walk, on the way stopping at another likely spot for falcon or long-tailed cuckoo.  Strangely there were no cuckoo calling, and only the odd shining cuckoo distantly heard during the day.  We did the walk and Lee had been wanting to see a peripatus (velvet worm – a very strange request and not something we get asked for often!).  The pressure was on, as although I have seen them before I have only done so on a couple of occasions.  I flipped open a piece of rotten log, searched, nothing.  Ripped another piece off and BINGO!  There was a peripatus in all its inch-long glory!  Of course getting good views of something like this is not too hard, so everyone got a good look, and we even saw it shoot a bunch of its sticky threads, very cool.

We had great views of kaka, and glimpsed and heard a few yellow-crowned parakeets, but they were not showing themselves.  Still no cuckoo calling we drove a couple of the roads stopping in strategic places, and then as we drove along another falcon came towards us flying with a prey item in its talons.  It was seen briefly, but we stopped and watched for a while in case it appeared again or called, but nothing.

So it was time to head for Taupo, keeping a keen eye out, and on the way we had New Zealand scaup and common coot.  Dinner in Taupo was another feast, before much needed bed!

Bird of the day – tomtit x1, silvereye x1, bittern x4, peripatus x1, falcon x2
Day total – Seen = 50 + 2 heard (shining bronze-cuckoo, dunnock); new for the trip = 5; total for the trip to date = 111

Waiting for the falcon!

"Bill! Silvereye!"

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