Tuesday 23 February 2016

Mossy forests

We were up and off relatively early, seeing that last night was an easy one!  We headed on up to the Franz Josef glacier viewpoint, and wandered up to the little viewing area.  The glacier was still just visible, but it is amazing to look back at where it was just 10 years ago – it certainly is receding fast.  The info panel there has where they thought it might be in 2100 and it is already well past there!  We saw a few birds along the way – tomtit, brown creeper, and lots of silvereyes feeding in the sunny areas.

We then headed on south, passing through some remarkable scenery.  Just spectacular country and even nicer in the sunshine.  We stopped near Fox Glacier for a fantastic view of Mt Tasman and Mt Cook – not a cloud in the sky to hide them today.  We then grabbed some lunch and carried on south, keeping a sharp eye out for falcon.

We stopped at a forest trail and walked through beautiful temperate rainforest, with mosses, ferns and lichens hanging from every branch.  The trail took us down to the beach and we enjoyed the sunshine on the beach and some even paddled in the cool Tasman Sea.  The ever present sand flies were about and keen on a snack, and so were we!  So we headed back to the van and ate our lunch in the sun.  A falcon called nearby, but we didn’t manage to see it – but this was the sixth falcon for the trip so far.

After lunch we carried on south, stopping at a few viewpoints and scenic spots, and then did another forest walk in the afternoon.  We hadn’t even got more than a few feet into the trail and already had awesome views of rifleman, tomtit and grey warbler, and shortly a small group of brown creeper.  We kept our ears peeled and a few minutes later we heard our target – yellowhead!  We headed down the track a little and in the end had beaut views of two birds feeding up in the canopy.  Pretty happy with that, we started to head back towards the carpark, and had another two yellowhead, this time just a few metres away and eye level!  Excellent.  We watched them feed, hanging from mossy branches, and throwing moss here and there as they fed on insects.  As they disappeared we carried on, seeing more rifleman, and back at the van carried on towards Wanaka.  We made a couple of quick stops to admire scenery, and then pulled into our accommodation in Wanaka.  An awesome meal of Mexican was enjoyed by all, and then a nice early night…it is going to be a relatively early start in the morning!

Day total – Seen = 31 + 3 (NZ falcon, kaka, yellow-crowned parakeet); new for the trip = 1; total for the trip to date = 146

Bird of the day Yellowhead x5

Morning sun breaks over the peaks at Franz Josef

The diminishing Franz Josef glacier 

Last look at the Glacier?

Mt Tasman on the left, Mt Cook on the right

Looking south along the beach, a beaut West Coast beach

Closeup of filmy ferns

Beautiful mosses

A walk in the woods

Crossing the bridge after the walk

Lake Hawea in the late afternoon

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