Apparently it rained last night…but I slept so soundly I didn’t hear a thing! Waking and looking out the window showed the day to be as forecasted…cloudy, cool, and a good chance of rain. We packed the van and then headed out to the Manawatu Estuary for another look, this time with the tide coming in the views of the birds should be much better. On the way we stopped quickly at a small pond where there were New Zealand scaup with ducklings, grey teal and shoveler, and then a few dabchick, including a pair with a chick riding on one of the adults back. A nice start to the day.
The tide was well in with all the bar-tailed godwit and red knot in a small flock on the edge of the water. We scanned for anything different, and then went to spend time with the five wrybill that were just along the beach. A juvenile red-necked stint was with them as they fed closely along the tideline. With the tide still coming in it was a perfect opportunity to have the tide push the birds towards us. And they really put on a show, at some points coming within just a few metres of us. They showed their feeding technique off, twisting their head to the side and opening the bill on the surface of the mud, clearly feeding on a lot of small invertebrates in the top layer of the mud. There was a lot of clicking of shutters, and several thousand photos taken between the photographers…there should be at least one in focus!
We headed back and scanned the godwit flock, and checked out a few terns, but there was nothing out of the ordinary, so we decided to make our way south. We did a spot of clothes shopping in Otaki and grabbed some lunch, then made a quick stop at a sewage ponds where there were several more black-fronted dotterel, as well as other waterfowl. Further south we made our lunch spot beside a small pond, where we had nice views of cormorants and other bits and pieces.
Then it was time to head on to the ferry terminal. As we drove we had steadily increasing rain, and things were clearly cooling down a little also. At the ferry terminal we got into line and waited for loading, and a little penguin was spotted. We then loaded onto the ferry and then headed up on to one of the open decks. It was not to pleasant with foggy, drizzly conditions, and a pretty strong wind, but luckily not much of a sea running. As we headed out Wellington Harbour we spotted a couple of spotted shags, and then once in the open water a few sooty shearwaters and Westland petrels flew past giving good views, then white-capped and Salvin’s albatross, fairy prion, and even a couple of Cape petrels put in an appearance. As we entered the Marlborough Sounds, good numbers of fairy prions showed, and a lot of fluttering shearwaters, with white-fronted terns and red-billed gulls.
Day total – Seen = 61 + 1 heard (grey warbler); new for the trip = 4; total for the trip to date = 128