Sunday, 16 February 2020

Day thirteen - soggy

Up and on the road relatively early after a beautiful sunrise.  We headed to a location for a spectacular view of the mountains and coastline, and then headed south along the very scenic coast road.  We made a couple of quick stops to scan the sea, and luckily found a reef egret (thanks to the keen eyes of Sarah) as we waited for a traffic light at road works!  Nice one.
We made a short stop and leg stretch at a little pond, seeing lots of waterfowl, including NZ scaup, shoveler, grey teal, and coot.  But no Cape Barren geese evident in the area.  Carrying on we made another stop at an estuary, scanning the area.  But the tide was high and still coming in, so we adjusted plans and went to a local river.  We managed to find a small post-breeding flock of black-fronted terns roosting on the riverbed, and had awesome opportunities for flight photography as they fished over a small rapid just metres away.  Very nice to see all the plumages from near breeding plumage to non-breeding adult, and juveniles.  They really are stunning little terns and great to get such nice close views.
We carried on, turning inland, with a few spots of rain on the way.  It started to get windy and the effects of the cyclone about to hit the west coast around Fiordland were clearly starting to have an effect.  We stopped and had lunch in a beautiful location overlooking mountains and fields, scanning the skies for raptors.  No raptors, but a delicious lunch anyway!
We carried on up towards the Pass and the rain really started in earnest.  As we got closer to Arthur’s Pass Village it really started to come down as expected.  We slowly drove through the village keeping a keen eye for kea, but nothing seen.  And then to another spot where we hoped to find one.  We sat in the van in the rain for a bit – a couple of brave souls ventured into the rain for a few minutes.  But no kea seen!  No kea with any sense would be caught out in this weather!
So, we headed back down a little and went for a walk in beautiful mossy beech forest.  Lovely forest, even in the wet, and we managed a few tomtit and rifleman, but nothing else much.  We headed through to the accommodations, checked in and rested up.  The rain fell even harder, and harder, and harder…. It just might rain itself out by the morning…oh hang on, this is the West Coast of New Zealand!
Day total – Seen = 36; new for the trip = 10; total for the trip to date = 76
Bird of the day – Black-fronted tern x5, rifleman x2, tomtit x1
Views of Kaikoura

The soggy gang

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