Friday 30 November 2018

Day thirteen - wrybill and penguins

Another early start, and off we headed to a spot where we hoped we might find more shorebirds.  Shorebirds of the endangered, endemic kind.  And we did.  We parked the van (more on that later) and then walked a short way before we had some double-banded plovers nice and close, and then we spotted our true quarry – WRYBILL!  We had seen these guys in the north, but they had not been possible to photograph at close range, and of course those up there were non-breeding birds, most of which didn’t show the characteristic breeding plumage.  So, we approached and sat, and they approached, and got closer and closer, and closer!  In the end too close to focus!  But what a problem to have.  Over the next two hours we had excellent fun with this awesome little shorebird, getting the required ‘full-frontal’ shots.  We enjoyed just watching their antics.  They were feeding rapidly, but were also still maintaining territory, so there was quite a bit of chasing going on, which was all part of the fun.
We then decided it was time to head back to the Motel to pack the van and head to the coast…or was it.  Seems our parking spot had not been the best choice (ahem!), and we had a little difficulty with grip.  Not to worry, there will be someone along soon.  Walking towards the road a 4WD with fisherman was coming in and as luck would have it had a tow rope and snagged us out of our predicament! Awesome – thanks some much to them! They headed off to wage war with the fish, and we headed towards the road, only to find three immature black stilts. So, we couldn’t pass that opportunity up, with beautiful light and reflections, we spent a few moments taking some more images of these magic birds – one of the rarest shorebirds in the World.
Then it was time to head back, pack up, and head to the coast.  We stopped at a pond on the way and found a bunch of very confiding scaup and a pair of great-crested grebes with a chick!  Nice! Then it was lunch time, standing looking for a falcon to rush, past, alas – no luck on that one.
At the coast we headed to an excellent spot to observe and photograph the recently split Otago shag.  Seeing both the pied and the black morphs and able to compare them side by side.  We also were able to spot some recently fledged young, still with wispy down.  Then on to the accommodation where we checked in and had a quick respite, before getting back out there for our target bird for the afternoon – yellow-eyed penguin. So, from one of the World’s rarest shorebirds, to one of the rarest penguins.  We walked along the coast, and the wind was really blowing.  But almost immediately we had three penguins in the scope and nice views.  We decided to wait it out and see if we could get some closer, and at almost the eleventh hour a penguin came up out of the surf, nice light and relatively close, so that we were able to get some nice images and great views.  Excellent!  What a day.
Back to the accommodation, and then off to dinner nearby.  Another great day!

Black-fronted tern in flight

Wrybill posing showing off its bent beak!

Wrybill feeding in a small pool

Male double-banded plover amongst dew covered grass

Immature black stilt with beaut reflection

Immature black stilt feeding in a shallow pool 

Immature black stilt against the bank

Baby great crested grebe

Male NZ scaup

Dark morph Otago cormorant showing iridescence on its head

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