Sunday 23 February 2020

Day twenty - stilts in sunshine

On the road and heading inland.  There was an almost clear blue sky, and the temps were a little cooler, but signalled a beautiful day.  As we headed inland there was a bit of fog and low cloud around, but it was pretty clear this was going to burn off.  We all had eyes peeled and were excited for our last day in the Mackenzie Basin.
We made a quick stop for coffee along the way, and carried on.  Our first stop was to look for the introduced chukar, but the views weren’t half bad.  And the sun was shining beautifully with no wind, so what could be better.  We checked out a few spots, but no chukar, and enjoyed the scenery, and then headed to another spot.  This was our first location to look for black stilt, our main target for the day.  And bingo, as we pulled up we spotted one, and then another two flew in shortly after.  Awesome!  We spent a good couple of hours enjoying this spot, with everyone spending time photographing this rare endemic.  There were other things of interest around, including a rare bumblebee (Bombus ruderatus) which was all black, and even an escaped hind red deer with fawn.  A few waterfowl around as well, so plenty to enjoy in the sunshine, including our lunch.
We then decided to head off, and checked out another location, but the water levels were very high and there were no black stilts.  But the scenery was stunning.  So we headed into the mountains, all the time keeping eyes peeled for a falcon.  We enjoyed spectacular views of Mount Cook (Aoraki), as were many other people.  We then headed to our last location for the day to look for Baillon’s crake.  Although the habitat looked perfect – and it is – they are there!  We didn’t manage to see any.  We spent a good bit of time walking and scanning, but nothing.  Oh well, can’t win them all!
We headed to our accommodation, checked in, and then had a superb last dinner.  We looked at the birds of the trip, with Okarito kiwi storming ahead as the top bird of the trip, well ahead of some other very worthy opponents!  It has been an awesome tour, we’ve seen almost all of our targets, and had a great amount of fun.  We have been lucky with weather, on the whole, and many stories to tell!
Day total – Seen = 37 inc 1 heard (grey warbler); new for the trip = 1; total for the trip to date = 154
Bird of the day – Black stilt x8


Happy birders!

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