Tuesday 4 February 2014

Bittern in the bag!

Up and leaving the Coromandel Peninsula early, but not before dropping a few more pie crumbs at the local bakery.  The wind had eased, and it was another stunning morning as we headed back up and over the Coromandel Peninsula.  We stopped at a wetland area to search for Australasian bittern, and Mike’s keen eye picked one up after about 10 minutes.  So we had pretty reasonable scope views of a bird stalking through the low grass and weeds, before it eventually disappeared.  There were lots of harriers, and a flying egret which caused some debate – with the group being split as to whether it was a great egret or a cattle egret…hmmm – a little size difference there, but still couldn’t be resolved.

We then headed towards Pureora Forest Park, where we planned to spend the rest of the day.  We pulled into a picnic stop there around midday and broke open the sandwiches.  I kept telling people that the falcon was going to fly over as soon as somebody went into the toilet, but despite several people venturing that way there was no falcon.  We ate our lunch in beaut sunny conditions with kaka and yellow-crowned parakeet flying around, rifleman and tomtit hoping around in the bushes nearby, and robin and whitehead singing from within the canopy.  Not a bad spot!

We then headed down a couple of roads through the forest, and before long a long-tailed cuckoo flew across the road in front of us and started calling.  We jumped out and in the end had two of them flying around, with a resident tui chasing them all over the place.  Nice views and a few flight photos snapped!  We made another stop a little further along and then did a short walk through the forest where we found more rifleman, kaka flying past and perched in the tops of the large emergent podocarps, and several more long-tailed cuckoo.

We made another stop, and before long had New Zealand pipit, fernbird, and cracking views of yellowhammer (sorry private joke!).  The fernbird showed off reasonably well, with some really great duetting going on.  So very happy, but still no sight nor sound from a falcon!

It was time to head off to our accommodation in Taupo, and we took a scenic route through the forest, with some beautiful big old trees.  Checking into our accommodation, we then walked across the cricket pitch on the way to the resturant, and bang a falcom flew across in front of the group and disappeared!  Of course no one had binoculars and it was all a bit fast.  So it was off to dinner for some oysters and more wine!

Day total – Seen = 52; new for the trip = 9; total for the trip to date = 109

Peering into the bushes for a rifleman, poor thing doesn't stand a chance with those lenses!

Matt trying to gain a little height by standing on a stump whilst looking for long-tailed cuckoo (sorry Matt!)

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