Saturday, 8 February 2014

Crossing to the South

We slowly headed south towards Wellington, with a quick look at Lake Horowhenua on the way.  As we drove up to the edge of the lake we were nearly over run by chickens and a motley assortment of ducks, but this is probably home to New Zealand’s best assortment of ‘feral chickens’ so well worth the stop!  At the lake edge however, we did have good views of little black cormorant, as well as shoveler, grey teal, and a lot of black swan.  We scanned for anything rarer, but with the exception of Royal spoonbill off in the distance there was nothing else to be seen.  However, with such splendid views of feral chicken, what else could one want?

We then headed on down the line, stopping in to grab some lunch along the way, purchase last minute fleeces, and then called in to Plimmerton where we looked longingly at the piece of beach where sometimes 20-30 shore plover roost during the winter months.  We walked and scanned the shoreline in both directions but to no avail.  We could almost smell them out on Mana Island just offshore though!

So it was then on to the ferry terminal where we got our taste of the big city, nestled right on the outskirts of downtown Wellington.  Our ferry departed just after 1:30pm, and we mostly spent the time during the crossing outside trying to get into sme of the seabirds.  Brent was feeling a little under the weather with a little bit of food poisoning (maybe a dodgy sandwich from the day before) so was inside most of the time, but the gang were ably assisted by Matt and got their first albatross of the trip – in some cases their first albatross!  It wasn’t a bustling crossing, but with Salvin’s and white-capped albatross, Westland petrel, sooty shearwater and some of the other usual suspects it was a good crossing.  Whats more, both dusky and common dolphins were seen reasonably well.  Once in the Marlborough Sounds gannets, several Arctic skua, little penguin and lots of fluttering shearwaters were seen.

We docked at Picton, drove a short way to our accomodations in downtown Picton and then went for dinner.  Another great day!

Day total – Seen = 56; new for the trip = 5; total for the trip to date = 123

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