Up early and out on the road as the sun was getting up. We headed off up the road and to a spot where we hoped we might find a blue duck! Again the weather was warm already and promised to be another beautiful day, and as we arrived at our spot on the river the scanning began. Upstream, downstream, upstream, downstream…nothing! We scanned a bit longer and then all of a sudden a blue duck jumped up out of the water onto a rock. It was a fair distance off, but we had it in the scope and managed some reasonable views as it sat on the rock and then jumped back into the water to feed, moving quickly through the fast water and often disappearing.
We decided to jump back in the van and head on to another spot, but as we were just about to drive off we spotted a pair upstream! So out we got and put them in the scope. They were a bit closer and so we got much better views, as the preened and fed in slower water. After a while we decided to move on, and headed for a different spot. We had hardly hit the river when we spotted another pair perched on rocks on the side of the river. We moved along a trail until we were adjacent to them and had them within 40m of us as they fed and swam along the waters edge. Excellent views of a truly spectacular duck!
With such nice views under the belt, we decided to head back to the Motel and pack up our gear, grab a bite of breakfast and then head off. We called in to a bakery to grab some lunch and a persistent tui alarm call alerted us to something untoward. We parked and checked the trees the tui was calling from, and although it took a couple of minutes, there it was – a male New Zealand falcon – perched up on a high branch! The tui definitely had something to complain about! We got it in the scope and managed some reasonable photos of the bird perched up in the tree – a nice way to see our first falcon! After about 6 minutes the bird flew off, with the tui half-heartedly following and calling.
We then carried on northwards and checked out a site for fernbird. Despite no calls a bird was spotted shuffling through the bushes a few metres away from us, and we had reasonable views of this little skulker. After a few more minutes we managed some more reasonable views, before we decided to head on our way. Another quick stop a few minutes later had some nice views of black-billed gull, and then a good drive to our next stop, through some beautiful countryside.
We arrived at a beautiful forest reserve area, the sun was shining, it was warm, and more importantly it was lunch time! We had our lunch and watched as kaka came and fed themselves at feeders specifically designed for them. Some wore transmitters and bands, but others were unbanded, clearly progeny from these released birds, now living in the wild. We also spied several rifleman, and a male falcon flew right overhead. It was all on! We decided to go for a walk, and wandered through a lovely forest trail. We heard a snatch of kokako song, and waited and listened for more, but alas nothing else. We had robin, tomtit, whitehead, more rifleman, and tui and bellbird along the trail, as well as a juvenile female falcon screaming as she flew around and around. We were never able to get great views of her perched, but she kept flying around us calling and we could see her through the canopy.
Back at the car we headed on towards Napier, and made a few stops around the city for waders, including black-fronted dotterel, and also found the remaining two plumed whistling ducks that have been long staying at an urban pond. Beautiful little things with their wispy little feathery bits. And then it was time to call it a day! We checked into our accommodation and then headed up to Brent’s house for dinner. A fantastic BBQ dinner with lamb chops, chicken kebabs, salads and all the trimmings…and of course a few wines! Another great day!
Day total – Seen = 52 + 1 heard (kokako); new for the trip = 5; total for the trip to date = 115
Bird of the day – Blue duck x3, rifleman x1, house sparrow x1
|Blue duck watching
|A pair of blue duck against the light
|Perched male New Zealand falcon
|A black-billed gull gives a yawn
|A kaka gives itself a scratch
|A kaka surveying its next move
|One of the remaining plumed whistling ducks
|Sunset from Brent's house after the BBQ dinner