Tuesday 2 November 2010

Late start, but not late to finish!

An easy start to the day following our nocturnal visitations.  We awoke to another fine day, and a very fine breakfast.  California quail on the lawn and we were off, passing more sacred kingfishers than you could poke a stick at.  Heading back down through Dargaville and across towards Whangarei we soon had a mealy of feral specialties with displaying peacocks, gobbling wild turkey’s, and (very) feral geese.  Cor, what a start!  A stop near Waipu revealed the long staying pair of Australasian little grebes, and made for great comparisons with dabchick right there as well.  A little bit of calling and pouting was obviously called for, by the birds that is.

Then down through Waipu to collect lunch and on to the Waipu Estuary where we had probably around 10% of the breeding population of New Zealand fairy tern in sight within a few minutes.  It seemed the male was catching small fish not far from the carpark and then heading across to the female incubating a single egg on a nest near the spit.  Good to see the age of chivalry is not over amongst fairy terns.  They probably need it with such low numbers, although sounds like another pair with nest at this site also currently.  Let’s wish them luck.
Lots of variable oystercatchers were on the estuary with adults and juveniles alike, and of course the usual commotions when the neighbours got too close, etc.  Bar-tailed godwit, a couple of red knot, and a handful of ruddy turnstone were also present, as were several New Zealand dotterel (plover), and a single reef egret (something I haven’t seen at this site before).

Several little pied cormorant, a single little black cormorant, and a few pied cormorants were also around (with great being seen later making a four cormorant day).  A bunch of Caspian terns seemed to look like they were breeding on the northern side of the rivermouth.

Having scope views of the incubating fairy tern was a real treat, and so we decided to head south along the coast to see what we might find...just happened to be an Australasian bittern that decided we couldn’t seen him for the 10+ minutes we stood there at 60m with scopes trained on him.  VERY good views of this pretty cool bird, as it stood in the open amongst the aerial roots of the mangroves, with quite a number of white-faced herons around it.  When people are describing the colour of the iris, you know they are getting a good look!  I got some photos, but not up to par.

We then continued south, through Warkworth and out towards Matakana where we had two Kookaburra perched on power lines.  Interesting to see both song thrush and blackbirds mobbing them.  Obviously, they know this kingfisher’s penchant for fledglings.  We then decided to carry on out to Tawharanui Regional Park while our luck was holding.  Picking up local Kevin Parker on the way, we had North Island kaka at his house, before getting prolonged scope views of buff-banded rails in superb light at the park.  Brown teal, including a mother with 7 ducklings, and several bellbird, copious tui, and a number of Eastern rosellas (finally good views), and there were a lot of smiles in the van on the way back to Warkworth.

And the forecast looks good for the pelagic tomorrow...

Ahhh, the serenity.

Not a great shot, but hey an awesome sighting of an Australasian bittern.

Laughing kookaburra on the wire.

Bird of the day –
Kookaburra x1, Eastern rosella x1, New Zealand dotterel x2, Australasian bittern x2

Day total –
Seen = 60 + 1 heard (shining bronze-cuckoo); new for the trip = 17; total for the trip to date = 71

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