Monday, 10 February 2020

Day seven - crazy cuckoos

So, it was an early start, the moon was still up and the sun not quite, as we left Whitianga.  We had a few kilometres ahead of us, and so it was prudent to get on the road early.  A nice quick run through to Matamata (Hobbiton) for a bakery stop, and then on towards the target for the day, a large tract of forest.
We made really good time and pulled into a carpark for a bathroom stop, only to hear a couple of long-tailed cuckoos calling nearby.  We made our way towards them and they were really getting excited.  We glimpsed them flying between the tall emergent trees, seemingly chasing each other, and then got amazing views of them as they flew directly over us.  In the end there had to be about 6-7 birds flying around, landing in the tall emergent trees, often in view, calling and then repeatedly flying. Amazing!  It seems at this time of year if you strike it right, they are flocking up and getting all worked up, perhaps before they start to migrate northwards in small groups.  Whatever, they were putting on an incredible show!
As well as this there were yellow-crowned parakeets flying around the trees, landing and giving brief views as the called and scurried through the branches.  A couple of kaka did fly overs, and then we found a male tomtit, a North Island robin, and a small group of rifleman that showed briefly.
We moved on to a different location and did a short walk.  We found several groups of whitehead, a nice view of a kaka prising off bark, and then some nice views of yellow-crowned parakeets.  Nice to see the beautiful green plumage and the yellow forehead.  Lots of huge emergent rimu, totara, matai and kahikatea trees, and the ferns and mosses were pretty special as well.
WE then carried on to another location, pausing to watch for falcon, but no luck, and then a short walk through more lovely forest.  A robin, a few fantails, but the forest was getting pretty quiet in the heat of the day.  So, we carried on and decided to head through to Turangi early.  A beautiful drive through more lovely native forest, and a few pigeon and tui see as we drove, another brief in flight long-tailed cuckoo, and then spectacular views of the three central North Island volcanoes – Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngaruhoe, and Mt Ruapehu – all visible in the sunshine!
We headed to spot on the Tongariro River, and bingo, a pair of blue ducks sitting on the river bank, taking a nap.  We got nice views of the pair, and a few photos, with the male occasionally waking up to look around.  Really nice to find these at the first stop, and of course we wanted more, so made another two stops…and found nothing.  Ah well, glad to have them under the belt and will try again in the morning.
It was definitely beer o’clock as we checked in to the Motel, had a drink, dinner and celebrated another awesome day!
Day total – Seen = 36; new for the trip = 10; total for the trip to date = 76
Bird of the day – Long-tailed cuckoo x7, blue duck x1
A walk in the woods

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