Wednesday 19 February 2020

Day sixteen - bob, bob, robin...

Up early and off.  We passed over the Crown Range, looking very moody with low cloud and some spots of rain.  Queenstown was its usual mad self, with ques of traffic and too many people.  We skirted past and had stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and then stopped for a coffee break at Garston.
We were making good time and continued on our way, grabbing some lunch at Miles Better Pies in Te Anau…oh man are they ever!  Lamb and mint is a stunner.  Back on the road towards Milford Sound, passing the little blockade where they check they we haven’t been on another planet and not heard the road is closed through to Milford Sound, yep, all good.
The sun was actually shining and beautiful views of the lake and Fiordland as we entered the Eglinton Valley.  We made a couple of photo stops along the way, and then continued through the valley.  We were still on the look out for falcon, seeing a good number of harriers along the way.  We drove through to a beautiful forest spot and had lunch, listening to the forest.  We finished up and then started a walk.  Within a minute or two we had a very very confiding robin feeding beside us.  This was our first decent view of a South Island robin, and so much welcome, and as usual there were a lot of photos taken.  We spent some time with it before moving on and finding a number of rifleman.  They were hear all over the place, and we got to see more than our fair share!  A lot of juvenile birds, as well as adults and nice and low and great views.  A few fantails, tomtits and grey warbler.  But really the stars of the show were the mosses.  The beech forest was just dripping with mosses, filmy ferns and ferns.  Just gorgeous to see, and lovely to walk through this ancient landscape.
We finished up our walk again with the confiding robin, he really thought Jan was his new best friend!  We left him behind and as the road was well and truly closed we unfortunately had to head back towards Te Anau.  We made a couple of stops along the way, and managed excellent views of brown creeper, which had somehow, evaded good looks until now.  Nice to get good views of these great little birds.  We also attracted a bunch of other birds including a robin, male tomtit, fantails and a grey warbler.  A nice collection of things.  A few more photo stops and then a stop at Lake Te Anau, where we found a group of NZ scaup, and a juvenile great crested grebe with an adult.  We spent a bit of time getting photos of these birds, nice light and nice conditions, so everyone was happy.
We then headed to our accommodations, had a bit of a chance to relax, and then a great dinner.  Another great day.
Day total – Seen = 36; new for the trip = 0; total for the trip to date = 142
Bird of the day – South Island robin x6, brown creeper x2
Dodgy characters

Rifleman again in the lens

Jan meets his new best friend

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