Saturday 30 November 2019

Day nineteen - shagging about

Up and at’em, another lovely morning on Stewart Island.  Breakfasted, packed and then on to the wharf to check in for the ferry. The crossing looked to be fairly calm and it was, with a bit of a breeze, but not much.  We spotted three Fiordland crested penguins on rocks and one in the water on the way out, and then a couple porpoising all over the place a bit further out.  Now that was a nice start.  A distant perched Southern brown skua, and a few Foveaux shags and then we were in the Foveaux Strait proper.  Light winds, confirmed by the fact that over half of the 10 or so white-capped albatross seen on the journey were sitting on the water.  No other birds of note, except a couple of sooty shearwaters and common diving petrels.  As we arrived back in Bluff, a few spotted shags and white-fronted terns amongst the gulls.
We loaded the van, and then headed north.  It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining, the scenery picturesque.  We made a couple of quick stops along the way, then grabbed some lunch in a town and ate it slightly early at a nice little road side stop.  Mild amusement when a cop stopped a poor elderly lady just near us for speeding.
We continued north, and headed to a location that is quite scenic and has a small number of yellow-eyed penguins.  The wind was fair pumping here – amazing what a few hundred kilometres can do!  We had lovely views of the coastline and got to a good over view to hear a penguin calling.  Moments later we spotted a bird, but it was too far off to have been the one calling.  But we had good views of it as it headed back up to its nest site on the hill.  Then not fair from us another bird called and moments later a bird appeared from the bushes, walked down on to the beach and trundled down to the water and dived in.  Perfect!  Couldn’t have time that any better!  A few Otago shags flew on past, as well as some spotted shag.  Fur seals basked on the rocks nearby.
With the wind the way it was we decided to head off, so slowly headed back to the van and on to the next spot.  Here we were able to watch several hundred pairs of Otago shags at relatively close proximity, with a lot of big fluffy chicks.  A lot of coming and going by adults, and a lot of feeding going on also.  We had the scope on them and able to get some really nice views of these birds, both the pied and the bronze morph.  We spent some time enjoying them, and then decided to continue on.
We headed on to our accommodation, checked in a little early and rested up for a bit before dinner at a nice pub, and an early night!  Tomorrow will be a big day!

Day total – Seen = 45; new for the trip = 1; total for the trip to date = 158

Happy penguins...

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