Tuesday 26 November 2019

Day fifteen - coasting

Up a little later after the night out, dreams of kiwi fresh on our minds.  What an awesome night!  We packed the van, nice sunshine with some clouds in the mountains that would hopefully allow views of the big ones later on?  We headed to a nice little forest walk where we had lovely greenhood orchids, filmy ferns, and tomtits.  We even had a male tomtit feeding chicks at a lovely little nest.  Nice views of where the Franz Josef Glacier used to be, and a shining bronze-cuckoo calling and being harassed (as it should) by a pair of grey gerygones.
We then headed south along the coast, beautiful views in every direction, lovely forest with big emergent rimu trees.  Surely there would be a falcon perched in the top…yes, no, no, no…. We made a few scenic stops, got beautiful views of both Mt Cook and Mt Tasman (yes the cloud allowed).  We grabbed some lunch and then continued down the coast.  We stopped at a spot and had an early lunch, and then walked out through spectacular moss and fern covered forest to a beautiful West Coast beach. After just a few minutes a penguin ran down the beach and into the water.  Fiordland crested penguin in the bag.  A little while later another bird appeared and took a more leisurely approach, standing on rocks for a short time, then heading down over the sand to disappear into the rough surf.  A trawler a short way off the coast had a few birds in tow, including a good number of white-capped albatross, Northern giant petrel, and a few Westland petrels.  We headed back to the van, seeing pigeon, more tomtits, and hearing a shining cuckoo or two.  We loaded up and head onwards.
More stunning scenery, a few scenic stops, and then a walk in the forest where we saw more rifleman, tomtits, grey gerygones, yellow-crowned parakeets, and brown creeper.  And off in the distance heard yellowhead…then another group, then another group.  All were a little way off, and then another shining bronze-cuckoo.  We scanned and search the distant tree tops for the yellowhead, and then suddenly heard another group, perhaps the fourth in the area, that sounded like they were near the track.  We headed back up, searching the tree tops, suddenly realised they were almost on the ground just a few metres away!  Beautiful – two males, really nice views as they were low down and easily watched as they busily fed.  They slowly moved off, but great views of these really stunning birds.
Back to the van and then off towards Wanaka.  We skirted some beautiful lakes, changing from lovely temperate rainforest to drier shrubland in almost the blink of an eye.  We kept scanning as we went, and arrived into Wanaka to our accommodation early evening.  A beautiful dinner, a chance to have a few drinks and enjoy each other’s company and do the checklist, and then to bed!  Another day tomorrow!

Day total – Seen = 47 inc 1 heard, (morepork – during the day!); new for the trip = 2; total for the trip to date = 151
Gone...Franz Josef RIP

Mt Cook and Mt Tasman

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