We were up and out of the rooms pretty early this morning and headed out to try and track down on of the main targets for the day – blue duck! We headed out to a couple of likely spots, and within about 10 minuets had a bird in the scope. It appeared to be a single bird, possibly a male with a mate somewhere on a nest (hopefully), and we watched it feed for a little bit, then perch on a rock and preen, before it slipped up the river and behind some cover. We decided to carry on and see if we could find more ducks. Heading through a patch of forest we heard the familiar call of a shining-bronze cuckoo not too far away, and with a quick whistle it came flying in and perched really closely. It was clearly revved up, with another bird nearby, and needed very little to excite it. It perched in front of us and called several times, before shifting perches and calling again, an excellent photo opportunity and views.
We then carried on and searched several more patches of the river, but to no avail. We couldn’t find any more blue duck, and decided to headed back to the van. We passed the spot where we had found the first bird, and again watched him feeding, this time in some fast water. After about 10 minutes the bird then flew off upstream, leaving some happy birders in his wake.
We then headed back to the Motel, packed the van, grabbed some lunch at a nearby bakery, and then headed north towards Taupo. We stopped at a great spot for fernbird, and had views of at least five different birds, mostly skulking in the undergrowth, but several making flights and perching briefly up in outer branches.
It was then on to Taupo for a twitch…would you believe a rook twitch! A pair of rooks are nesting in Taupo and we managed to locate the nest trees, and there perched in the top of the tree was an adult, with flapping juveniles up in the tree above it…I’ve seen it all now! A group of British (and one ex-Brit) huddled around the scope looking at a rook! We then raced off to the east, heading towards Napier. We headed to a forested site first, where we ate our lunch and had a brief flyover of another distant falcon, and saw a pair of kokako, which headed off uphill and sang away.
Heading into the forest we found all the usual suspects with great views of tomtit, North Island robin, grey warbler, pigeon, tui and kaka, but struggled to find rifleman. We could hear them in many places, but they just seemed to disappear. Finally we got a couple of half decent views, and then with real persistence, we managed to find a bird at eye level in good light. Nice!
Then off down to Napier, where we met Sav in Taradale for another twitch, this time something a little more exciting in the form of two plumed whistling ducks. A range of other waterfowl was nearby and a breeding colony of little pied cormorants as well.
It was then time to check into the accommodations and we then headed up to Brent’s house for a BBQ dinner. Great wine, food, and views, a fitting end to another excellent day!
Day total – Seen = 54 + 1 heard (long-tailed cuckoo); new for the trip = 4; total for the trip to date = 122