Thursday 21 February 2019

Day nine - early bittern

Up early again, and out the door just after sunrise as we headed for a bird we had not seen at two of the three possible spots…Australasian bittern.  We arrived at the location, and got into ‘sneaky’ mode. The wetland was full of ducks, a few black swans and other things.  Scanning bits of the edge through vegetation allowed small parts of the wetland to be searched, hopefully without any bittern that were present seeing us.  And bingo, within a few minutes we had one, skulking along in the open.  The scope was on it quickly and everyone got a look, but it must have seen us at least a bit as it headed back into the vegetation a short way, but then stood there still visible for everyone to get a nice long look.  Excellent – not an easy bird, and certainly one that is tricky everywhere that it exists.  We watched it for a bit longer as it preened, searching for any others around the wetland, but no more were found.
We spent some time checking through the waterfowl, and the bittern slowly moved into the vegetation and out of sight.  So we headed back to the van and made the decision to head to a forest patch, to give it another go for long-tailed cuckoo and falcon.  We arrived and stood overlooking a lookout area. There was a bit of wind and it was much cooler than back in Napier.  We spotted a couple of harriers, but they didn’t elicit a response from any falcon. We hadn’t heard any cuckoos, so headed down and did a short walk, spotting a few robin, grey warbler, and the odd rifleman along the way.  A nice walk, but the wind was making it a little hard to hear things and it wasn’t terribly birdy – certainly our targets were not evident.
We headed back towards Hastings and made a quick stop for lunch and then a great spot for pipit.  We sat eating lunch, hoping for one to appear and a few moments later there was one right beside the van! Perfect, excellent views of this smart little bird.  We spent some time enjoying the scenery, the pipit and our lunches, and then off to the south we headed.  We made a couple of quick stops along the way, heading to the Manawatu Estuary.  The tide was well out, but we scanned and could see bar-tailed godwits, knot, pied oystercatcher and banded dotterel, and also a couple of wrybill.  There were a couple of white-fronted terns as well, with a few other bits and bobs, and then we headed to the accommodations, checked in and had a rest before dinner.  An excellent dinner with some lovely food at a nearby restaurant, before a good night’s sleep.

Bird of the day– Australasian bittern x8
Sunny skies and great views

Pipits sure are hard to find around here...

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