Up and on the road early with overcast conditions, but hopefully some good birds ahead. We drove straight through to Omarama where we picked up some coffee, lunches, etc. We had been on falcon squad red alert the whole way, but only a couple of false alerts with harriers.
We headed on and suddenly spotted a black shape as we drove. Whipping the van around we scanned a small pond and bingo! The prize was there in the form of two adult black stilts in all their glory! We got the scope on them and everyone had a look, before they suddenly took flight and flew directly across the road and out of sight…. Wow! Beautiful views of our target bird for the day and it wasn’t even 0900!
We carried on, stopping at some ponds for nice views of several Australasian great-crested grebe chicks, as well as several others and a lot of scaup. Several coot also in evidence. Carrying on we drove to a spot where we searched for more black stilt, a false alarm with several pied and then a single black object squatting in a field. Hmmmm. Looks kind of like a black stilt, but strange posture. Several pied oystercatchers around also, so out with the scope. Indeed, it was a black stilt, but it seemed to have sprouted two small pairs of legs from its breast as it squatted low over the ground! It ended up standing up and showing off three tiny little chicks! Super cute, as the bird moved off the tiny little chicks followed and then fed in a nearby bit of water. Very nice.
We carried on to another location, and the wind was absolutely honking by this stage. The weather was closing in a little and the views of the mountains disappearing. But we came across three juvenile black stilt that were super confiding and gave excellent views and photo opportunities. And then went for a bit of a walk, more a side-ways shuffle in the wind, and found at least four wrybill that also showed really well. Our best views of these great little birds to date, and on the breeding grounds with nice plumages as well. There were several banded dotterel also that posed nicely.
We decided the wind was going to beat us, so headed back to the van and headed on to our next stop. This was a little more sheltered, but only just. And a great place for lunch as we watched yet another pair of adult black stilts. Superb! Some took a chance to get some photos of the adults, to go with those of the juveniles, and just a lovely setting to enjoy our lunch. We then retraced our steps, checking all likely areas for falcons, but falcon squad was still drawing a blank. We bounced down the road, with the wind buffeting the van, and called into a wetland area to look for skulky crakes. We ended up hearing a Baillon’s crake, and searched and searched, but nothing showed. So, it goes on the list as a heard only, rather underwhelming…
We headed to the accommodation, checked in and then on to a lovely last dinner. Some of us started to formulate our top five birds of the trip, we all had a lovely dinner, and then celebrated Romania’s Independence, 101 years to the day!
Day total – Seen = 37 inc 1 heard, (Baillon’s crake); new for the trip = 2; total for the trip to date = 160
|Juvie black stilt out the window
|Derek enjoying a juvie black stilt, no pressure Derek!
|Mountains out there somewhere