Thursday 6 February 2014

Rook in the bag!

Up and off in the morning we headed east and towards Napier, but not before snatching nice views of the mountains down the end of the lake.  Mt Ngaruhoe had a bit of cloud around the top, but the other two were pretty clear, and it was otherwise a clear blue sky – it looked like it was going to be a great day.  The plan was to visit several forest sites on the way to Napier, before looking around several shorebird and waterbird sites.

We headed through some pretty good falcon country on the way – “Keep your eyes peeled for falcon, we are in good falcon country” was the call from the drivers seat…I’m not sure anyone believed though as not a single falcon showed itself all day!  We did however stop along the way for a rook!  Excellent, nice to have that one under the belt.

Our first stop was overlooking a forested area, with the hope of the elusive falcon.  Some harriers and a lot of other bird song was all we saw and heard.  Once we got down into the forest we had a lot of tui and bellbird, as well as rifleman, whitehead, tomtit and robin.  Great views of all of them and some really lovely forest to walk through.  A long-tailed cukoo called off in the distance, but never came close.  As we neared the end of the walk the guys found a pair of kaka and managed to get some great photos of the birds courtship feeding, with the male feeding the female.  We had lunch overlooking the forest, with another kaka coming in close for a look and then feeding nearby on a feeding station that has been put out for these recently released birds.  Great watching it up close feeding on honey water from a nectar feeder.

After lunch we headed down towards Napier, making a couple of brief stops and driving past a small pond with several mute swans on it.  We headed to a wetland area first off and spotted good numbers of black swan and other waterfowl – including our first shoveler of the trip, before getting great views of pied stilt with half grown young ones, and then a black-fronted dotterel with very small chicks.  We then headed to Anderson Park and found the long-staying plumed whistling ducks roosting on the side of the pond.  Just the two of them now, and they looked to be happily sunning themselves beside the pond.  The guys managed to get some nice photos of them, before we then headed on back towards Taupo.

We made a quick stop at Brent’s house to sample his latest batch of beer, have a coffee, and scare the rabbits out of the vegetable garden, before then heading back up and over the hills to Taupo, and then down along the eastern side of the lake to Turangi.  We made a couple of quick stops along the Tongariro River to check for blue duck, but alas nothing, before then checking into our accommodation and having another great dinner.

Day total – Seen = 55 + 1 heard (long-tailed cuckoo); new for the trip = 5; total for the trip to date = 114

Lichens up close

The motley bunch!

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