We were up again early. The rain seemed to be easing off, and we walked down to check in for the ferry after breakfast. The ferry headed off on time, heading out of the bay, but there were no Fiordland penguins where there had been seven yesterday! We were lucky! The crossing started very calm with light winds, but by halfway across there was a very strong wind and enough small waves to cause some pretty good spray over the back deck. We saw a few birds on the way back including Southern Royal, Buller’s Salvin’s and white-capped albatross, sooty shearwater, and at least one probable mottle petrel.
We docked at the ferry terminal in Bluff and quickly loaded the van with all our gear and headed off northwards. A fair way to drive today to get up to Oamaru, but some pretty nice scenery along the way. We basically headed through to Owaka where we grabbed some lunch and then headed to a beach to eat it. It had started to drizzle a little, but as we finished so did the rain and we headed along a beach and found a good number of Hooker’s sea lions resting on the sand. They were spread out along the beach, with several of them lying in small groups. We had great views of them, and even watched one large bull come up out of the sea.
We then wandered back to the van and carried on northwards, heading through Dunedin. We called in at a small coastal spot where we had awesome views of yellow-eyed penguins. There were at least six birds out sitting about, and several juveniles with just small traces of down left to moult sitting under bushes. They were clearly very close to fledging from the nest, so were probably waiting on their parents to come back and feed them. Some of the adults sitting around were clearly in the middle of their moult, and there is nothing that looks more miserable than a moulting penguin. We enjoyed the beautiful coastal views, and watched a few albatross cruise past, as well as a Hutton’s shearwater, and several of the newly ‘split’ Otago shags – split from Stewart Island shag.
We then headed on to Oamaru and to our accommodation, where we checked in and had a break before another excellent dinner.
Day total – Seen = 48 + 3 heard (bellbird, tomtit, redpoll); new for the trip = 0; total for the trip to date = 159
Bird of the day – Yellow-eyed penguin x5
|Beautiful skies as we crossed back to Bluff
|Yellow-eyed penguin having a stretch on the cliff top