After cleaning the Bunkhouse and packing, we then wandered down to the wharf and caught out water taxi to head back to Gulf Harbour. From the wharf we spotted a New Zealand eagle ray, but the boat ride back to Gulf Harbour was surprisingly free of birds.
We loaded the van and headed off southwards, quick stop to grab lunch and then we checked out an estuarine area. There was a lot of waterfowl around – thousands of black swans, mallards, but our first grey teal, and some more Pacific black duck and Paradise shelduck. Quite a few pied and little pied cormorants, and our first black-billed gulls also.
We had lunch and scanned the waterfowl, and then continued our way south towards Miranda. We checked in to our accommodation, had a bit of a rest and reorganised our gear, and headed out to the Stilt Ponds to watch the waders coming in. Our timing was perfect, and as we arrived the first red knot and barwits settled down on the mud in front of us. We watched as more and more birds came in, finding a leucistic South Island oystercatcher in the gathering flock – very cool looking bird. Also a bunch of Pacific golden plover and some more black-billed gulls. Flocks of wrybill were flying past us and heading across to the Stilt Pond so we ended up heading across there. There was probably close to 2000 wrybill there and searching amongst them we managed to find the previously reported lesser sand plover, then a couple of sharp-tailed sandpipers, and some sharp eyes (thanks Kirsty!) managed to find the broad-billed sandpiper. So all in all a very successful afternoon!
We headed straight to a lovely dinner and then an early night…hopefully a little less night-time sounds than the Bunkhouse tonight!
Day total – Seen = 60; new for the trip = 10; total for the trip to date = 76
Bird of the day – Wrybill x7, kokako x1