We were up and leaving relatively early, stopping quickly at a bakery to grab some lunch and then on the road. Basically we headed back up and over the Coromandel Range, and then headed south, making a quick stop to look for hobbits in Hobbiton (Matamata), and then on through towards Pureora Forest Park. We made a quick stop to get views of Eurasian coot…not quite bird of the trip, but coots are cool!
We arrived in beautiful sunshine, just on midday, and found a great place to have a bite to eat. Scanning as we munched we glimpsed some fluing yellow-crowned parakeets, and then a flying kaka, as well as the usual suspects like grey warbler, whitehead, etc. A distant falcon made such brief views that nobody else saw it, and then we had great views of a perched yellow-crowned parakeet feeding in a totara tree. We decided to head to another location, and quickly found a couple of pipits which obliged with nice close views and some nice photographs. Ears and eyes were out for falcons or long-tailed cuckoos, but not even a sniff, so we decided to move on. Headed into another patch of forest we heard the familiar call of a long-tailed cuckoo, and the very sharp eyes of Karen managed to spot the bird sitting relatively exposed up in the top of a podocarp tree in the canopy. With the scope on the bird, everyone had excellent extended views of the bird. We then moved a little closer, got some photographs, and then set the scope up again! Rarely does this happen with this species, so excellent to see it so well. Another brief falcon fly through, but again nobody happy to put the bird on the list yet, we need better views!
We then headed in and did a short walk in the beautiful forest, seeing North Island robin, having scope views of perched kaka, and several tomtit. A few squeaks from a rifleman, but no sign of it, so back to the van and off through the forest. Scanning for falcon or anything else, but nothing showed, but some lovely forest none the less. As we headed through to Turangi we kept our eyes peeled. A quick stop before Turangi had a fernbird in sight, which flew showing well, and then a cry went up “What’s that flying’ and there went a bittern – pretty darn good flight views of this pretty rare New Zealand native! Excellent! We then headed to a couple of places of the Tongariro River to look for blue duck, but no luck…
We checked in quickly at the Motel, another flash through by a falcon raising hell with the local finches, but again BVD (Better Views Desired)! So off to dinner, which was spectacular, not just for the food or the company, but for the fact it was almost raining beautiful Puriri moths on the lawn outside, and a very close and confiding morepork that showed off to everyone. What a way to finish the day!