Sunday 18 November 2018

Day One - gannets and dotterels

The group gathered at the Hotel, we loaded the van and off we headed, to the rugged and wild West Coast.  As we approached the coast, it certainly looked like it had been rugged with salt spray hanging in the air and making visibility reduced.  But as the morning developed the air cleared and the light improved.  But with thousands of Australasian gannets in front of us, who could worried about visibility.  The colony was in full swing with eggs still being incubated, right through to chicks that were large and fluffy and at least 3-4 weeks old.  And so much going on – adults filled the air, calling non-stop, ecstatic displays, and even copulation still occurring.  Plenty to point the camera at.  There were also a lot of white-fronted terns, also with a wide range of chicks from very small just hatched, through to juveniles taking their first flights.
As midday approached we headed to a bakery – the first of the trip – where only one of the group was tempted by a pie!  On the road, we ate lunch at a scenic overlook with beautiful views out over rolling hillsides, covered by a mix of native and exotic vegetation.  And then on to the East Coast to a small estuary where we had a quick look at the state of the tide before checking in to the accommodation.  A quick rest, and then out to the estuary at the height of the tide, hoping to watch it drop.  We found a bunch of New Zealand dotterel as well as nesting variable oystercatchers. A shower of rain came in, so we decided to take some time to explore further down the coast, where we found another beach with more New Zealand dotterel.  We spent some time there photographing and then headed back to our original location, where the rain shower had passed and the late afternoon light was getting very nice for photography.  We had plenty to look at, with NZ dotterel, variable oystercatchers, Caspian tern, and white-faced herons all posing to differing degrees – who could pose more than a New Zealand dotterel though!
Really nice light and some lovely images were captured, before heading back to the vehicle.  As the words ‘I can’t believe we haven’t seen a fairy tern’ left my mouth an adult fairy tern flew past!  Not great views, but enough for most to get on to the bird before it disappeared off into the distance.
Pizza and burgers for dinner, with locally made beer!  Life is good!
New Zealand dotterel checking us out

Variable oystercatcher making itself pretty

Little pied cormorant giving a stretch

Backlit variable oystercatcher

Immature Caspian tern on the fish

Variable oystercatcher playing peek-a-boo

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