We had a rather relaxed start, with some choosing to head out and around the Ahuriri Estuary to see what they could find. We then headed out and around a couple of spots to look for waders and other things, and a quick drive through downtown Napier to view some of the Art Deco architecture.
At a nearby wetland area we searched for bittern, and apart from ducks all seemed clear. However, a bittern was spotted in long grass, and for the next 10 minutes the call ‘He’s up”, “He’s down”, “He’s up”, He’s down” rang out! The bird stayed in the long grass, but gave relatively good views as it moved and poked its head and neck up out of the cover. We then headed to find two wader species, and managed that pretty easily, with lovely views of black-fronted dotterel, and then very close views of banded dotterel, and several others, one a female with a small fluffy chick. The photographers practiced their skills, with much banter and egging-on.
We then headed out to several other wetland areas, seeing cormorants, ducks and other bits and bobs, but still hadn’t found our quarry – the elusive Barbary dove! We checked a little further, and there they were – magnificent specimens, perched on the power lines! Apparently a lifer for some – it really is hard to find good birders these days!
We then headed to a small pond with grey teal, brown teal, and a small nesting group of little pied cormorants. We spent some time there, watching and photographing, and enjoying the sunshine, before slowly making our way south. We crossed through the flat river floodplains of Hawkes Bay, and had our lunch near the Ruahine Ranges, before succumbing to the temptation of ice-cream just before crossing through to the west coast.
We checked into our accommodation, had a little relax time, and then headed to the Manawatu Estuary. The tide was pretty far out, but we managed to see a small number of wrybill, a red-necked stint, and quite a few bar-tailed godwit and red knot. Several Royal spoonbills gave great views as they fed out over the mudflats, and a tern gave us something to look at thinking it may have been a common tern. But we just couldn’t convince ourselves as it just didn’t have all the features of this species versus white-fronted tern.
We then headed back to the Motel for another cracking BBQ with handmade burgers, salad and chips! Of course there was chocolate cake and cream to follow!
Day total – Seen = 55; new for the trip = 2; total for the trip to date = 124