Up with the promise of another warm and sunny day. We quickly called in to grab some lunch, and then one last chance at the elusive kookaburra…and it remained elusive. No sighting, so we headed off southwards and out along the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, towards Gulf Harbour. Getting to the ferry terminal early, we checked in, unpacked our gear and had a look around. A reef egret was located hunkering down amongst boulders, and there were lots of white-fronted terns and a few more variable oystercatchers.
We boarded the ferry and then headed out across to Tiritiri Matangi Island, with pretty flat conditions. There were a good number of fluttering shearwaters streaming past, so we took some time to watch them. As we arrived at Tiritiri we readied ourselves, and unpacked our gear and listened to the welcome briefing. New Zealand pigeon flew overhead, saddleback called nearby, as did whitehead, tui, and bellbird.
We then headed off up towards the bunkhouse, making our way along the trails. First up was a morepork roosting in a tree, rather active when we arrived preening itself, it soon settled down and assumed its normal daytime posture…hunched up and asleep! We then carried on up the trail, finding in short order whitehead, North Island saddleback, kokako and robin, and then stitchbird. We had good views of everything except the kokako, which sat in a tree above our heads and taunted us, but wouldn’t show well. Further on up we had good views of tui, bellbird, and fleeting views of red-crowned parakeet.
Up at the bunkhouse we checked in, had lunch and then spent a little money at the giftshop, taking a little break in the middle of the day before heading out for some exploration of the island. We headed to the lighthouse and found a pair of takahe with a half grown chick wandering around feeding on the grass. We then headed out along the island, bumping into a few saddleback, robins, and other bits and bobs. We heard a couple of fernbird, but nothing decided to pop into the open, so we focussed on another pair of Takahe, getting some nice shots of them. They were feeding on grass seeds as well as the stems of grass, so some nice photo opportunities. We then spotted a few red-crowned parakeets, getting some good views of them before heading to a pond. Before we had even sat down we had a spotless crake pop out at the far end of the pond, and then moments later it called to another bird that popped out, followed by two little fluffy black chicks! Awesome! We watched the adult feed along the back of the pond, coming right out into the open at times. After a good bit of time with these often very secretive birds, we headed back to the bunkhouse. Some of us had some good views of rifleman and kokako on the way home, with good views of brown quail also.
Back at the bunkhouse we set about getting a fantastic BBQ dinner on the go, with steak and lamb chops, salad and potatoes. Of course a few NZ wines were sampled, as well as some fine cheeses…not a bad way to celebrate the day.
After dinner we had a little down time before heading out to look for kiwi. And it was one of the best nights ever on Tiritiri! We waited by a good looking spot, and before it was even fully dark there was some rustling nearby. We tracked it along the trail, and watched as it came out beside the trail, went under the boardwalk and popped out the other side. It then fed along the edge of the boardwalk right in front of us! It gradually disappeared into the forest so we carried on. A bit later a kiwi called, and we waited hopefully, but no sign, so we carried on. And then a tuatara on the trail, and another, and another! Awesome views of NINE tuatara! Carrying on we didn’t hear much – the odd morepork in the distance, but nothing close. Almost back at the Lighthouse some rustling…damn it was working away from us. We repositioned and within a few minutes there it was, right in front of us, running along the road! And then calling at the same time, but not from the running bird! Moving a little we had awesome views of a male calling loudly with bill wide open as it called! But wait, there was another bird still rustling behind us…creeping down the trail we had great views of another bird feeding, and then it crossed the trail in front of us! FOUR kiwi in all and stunning views of each…wow! We floated back to the bunkhouse for a, hopefully, sound nights sleep!
Day total – Seen = 49 + 1 heard (yellowhammer); new for the trip = 13; total for the trip to date = 89
Bird of the day – Little spotted kiwi x4, tuatara x1
|The gang moreporking
|Saddleback feeding amongst the leaflitter
|A scruffy bellbird
|An immature tui
|Yawning NZ pigeon in the canopy
|A takahe feeding on grass seeds
|A saddleback perched looking on
|A kokako feeding on the side of the road
|Brown quail looking out from the weeds
|Now that is a good looking dinner!
|Tuatara hiding in the shrubbery