Tuesday 9 November 2010

Blue ducks and sunshine

A brisk morning in Turangi, but a beaut blue sky promising to be another warm and fine day.  We headed off towards the Kaimanawa Forest Park to check out a spot for blue duck, and other forest species.  There were no blue duck at the usual spots, but we had great views of common redpoll, tomtit, silvereye, and a bunch of other common things.  A bit further along we finally heard a long-tailed cuckoo and managed to see it land in a tree nearby.  I got it in the scope, but it was partially obscured, finally giving reasonable views to all.  Tried to get a better angle on it, and as per usual just as I refound it it dropped down out of the tree and out of sight – ha!  We gave it a bit longer, but then decided to quit while we were ahead and headed onwards to our main stop for the day – Ruatiti.

We pretty much just headed straight for the domain, except with a brief stop on the bridge to check up and downstream.  No ducks showing but scope views of shining bronze cuckoo, with multiple birds around.  There were a lot of these birds calling at just about every stop today – so they are in full swing...watch out grey warblers!

At the domain we pulled up beside the picnic area, and before we had even stopped moving a pair of blue duck were in sight.  Perched on rocks just down from the picnic tables, these birds gave brilliant views as always, and we soon had them in the scope as they preened, and then jumped in and out of the rapids and onto rocks whilst feeding.  They really are beaut birds, and the atmosphere at this place is just magic – a really scenic stop.  We had lunch at the domain, enjoyed the sun, and just generally relaxed.  Discussing our options for the afternoon, we decided on getting to the accommodation as early as possible, but with a stop for sulphur-crested cockatoo on the way.

So we headed off back up the road, managing to see several more pairs of blue duck along the way, and even a family party of mum, dad, and the four kids!  Great, 11 blue duck without too much effort.  Unfortunately, it sounds like the breeding season has not been a good one for them here, as the wet spring has meant floods have wiped out some of the earlier breeding attempts.  Still, there is time for some second attempts.

We carried on through Taihape, and then to the Pohangina Valley to try our luck with the cockatoos.  After about 10 minutes (and more shining bronze cuckoo!) we had a pair of cockatoos fly over, and shortly after great views of three of them, with a pair perched and in the scope.

Heading into Feilding we checked in slightly earlier than normal before meeting with Sav and heading for dinner.  The crème brulee was a 7 out of 10, but it took a lot longer than it should and the drive to the rufous night-heron spot near Wanganui got us there a little later than desired.  No sign of any night-herons, but a morepork was a consolation prize.  A long but good day...checklist update tomorrow!

Stars of the day - blue duck

The picnic spot, being used appropriately

Blue duck heaven

Bird of the day – Blue duck x4, long-tailed cuckoo x1, sulphur-crested cockatoo x1

Day total –
Seen =41 + 1 heard (NI robin); new for the trip = 3; total for the trip to date = 128

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