Another beautiful morning as we readied the van and then headed south towards our ferry. We made a short stop at a local reserve and saw a few things, including some nice views of grey gerygone and a flyby red-crowned parakeet. A road-running buff-banded rail showed well as we departed.
We arrived at the ferry port, got our gear situated and waited for the ferry before boarding and undertaking the short ride across to Tiritiri Matangi Island. On the way we saw a single penguin, a couple of fluttering shearwaters and a single Buller’s shearwater as we arrived at the island. The Buller’s and a number of white-fronted terns were feeding just off the island.
On the island after our greeting we headed up to the Bunkhouse, birding on the way. In quick succession we had bellbird, tui, robin, whitehead, red-crowned parakeet, saddleback, Stitchbird, kokako (a pair mutual preening), and then brown quail. The kokako were nice, but a little obscured. With the island so so dry, there was a lot of coming and going at the water feeders, so we spent a little time there watching the birds come and go. By the time we got to the Bunkhouse to have lunch we had pretty much cleaned up on all the birds we really needed. But the afternoon beckoned and after an hour to relax it was time to head out for the afternoon.
We wandered out around the island, exploring. It was warm and sunny, but not too hot. And there was a bit of a breeze, so actually quite pleasant. We saw a lot of saddleback and whitehead, brown quail, and then checked out some of the feeders with lots of Stitchbird and bellbird around. We managed to find a few rifleman, managing to see them in about three different places, with at least a couple unbanded, indicating birds raised on the island. We then found a pair of Takahe, hiding in the shadows, trying to escape the heat. And then at a small pond found two spotless crakes walking the edge and feeding right in the open. Awesome views as they pecked back and forth along the shore for more than 15 minutes in front of us. A brown teal put in an appearance as well.
As we wandered back towards the Bunkhouse we picked up more saddleback, and other endemics. And then after a while we heard snippets of kokako song. The male flew over the track after giving pretty decent views, and then disappeared. But we managed to find it again, first singing from a Puriri tree, and then feeding on the fruits of a cabbage tree. Awesome views and a lot of images taken.
A beaut BBQ dinner back at the Bunkhouse, with wine and cheese, then steak and lamb chops, salads, coleslaw and new potatoes! Pretty darn nice, with a little chocolate to wash it down. And then it was time to head out for our nocturnal adventures.
We headed out, it was a bit breezy but the night was warm and the leaves in the forest unable to hide a kiwi moving. We wandered some trails, but all was quiet. Then a couple of morepork called, and the churring of several chicks was heard. But not a single snuffle or call from a kiwi! We kept on wandering, and managed to find our first tuatara, a nice big animal about 2+ feet long. Excellent views of these ancient reptile for all. We continued, finding another three tuatara. And then there it was, a rounded ball like shape. Turning off the flashlight we got everyone into place and turned it back on. There was a female, quite large, feeding right in front of us! She probed the ground feeding intently for about 60 seconds, and then as if she suddenly realised there was somebody watched her shot off out of sight behind some flax bushes. YES! All very happy, we decided to move away and leave her to it. A short while later we found a morepork perched and had more great views of this great little bird, and continuing our search we finally heard a single male kiwi call. A short time later we had one more morepork with great views, and then back to the Bunkhouse! A pretty early night to be honest, and very happy to have had such excellent views of a kiwi in these very dry and challenging conditions!
Day total – Seen = 51; new for the trip = 7; total for the trip to date = 83
|Stunning views from Tiritiri Matangi
|The gang heading out for more birds!
|Sunset from the Bunkhouse
|Lighthouse on Tiritiri