Tuesday 16 November 2010

Rock wren in the rain

Blustery winds and gathering clouds greeted us this morning, so I was keen to get away and get to Homer Tunnel ASAP!  My intention was to head directly there unless we saw something of interest...I had forgotten about the existence of the ‘Kingston Flyer’ steam engine, which was of course noted by Malcolm and John as we approached Kingston.  Suitably hijacked, we quickly headed to the yard to see it and another steam engine (I’m surprised that was not bird of the day for them!).

We then carried on through to Te Anau – a bit of a hike, but the ‘Miles Better’ pie shop was worth it, and we grabbed and ran, heading for Homer Tunnel.  The rain started as we got closer, and by the time we got to the tunnel it was very persistent rain, not looking like easing at all!  Several kea were in the carpark as usual, and three of us braved the elements, whilst the rest digested pies and sandwiches and watched for any wild gesticulations from the safety of the van.  They were also successful in fending off the kea thankfully.

After about an hour and a half, several laps of the track, NO rock wren and a great deal damper, Malcolm suddenly exclaimed “There’s a bird on a rock!”, upon being asked “Where?!” he said there on that rock...  Hmmm...there were probably 389 rocks in the direction he was looking, but the rock wren was luckily pretty obvious and I ran towards the bus waving madly.  The troops ran up to where we were by which time the bird had come slightly closer, and was now joined by its mate.  Everyone got stonking views of both birds, right down to a couple of metres, if that.  They gradually bobbed their way up the slope, and disappeared, having been visible for the best part of almost 10 minutes.  I couldn’t believe our luck, thinking that the rain had snookered us!  Good eyes Malcolm!

So we headed back to the van, removed our wet gear, and then decided to head down towards Milford Sound, as the rain was still coming down, making forest birding a little worthless.  We checked out the misty views and waterfalls around the end of the Fiord, swatted a few sandflies, and grabbed a coffee and then headed back out towards Te Anau.  Wed stopped at a couple of places on the way, with a forest walk with a little less rain.  Managed to get views of rifleman up in the canopy and several tomtits, but the area was fairly quiet with things hunkering down after the rain.  Heard kaka, robin, and yellow-crowned parakeet.  We also stopped further down the Eglinton Valley for a small flock of black-fronted terns hawking over the grassland.  Nice views of them obviously catching inverts.

Then into town and dinner, checklist, blog, and bed!

The wet and bedraggled, but happy, bunch - thumbs up for the rock wren!

Beaut beech (Nothofagus sp.) forest

Moss, moss and more moss...do you think it rains a lot here?

The gorgeous Eglinton Valley

Bird of the day –
Rock wren x6

Day total –
Seen = 34 + 6 heard (Kaka, yellow-crowned parakeet, brown creeper, fantail, bellbird, robin); new for the trip = 1; total for the trip to date = 150


  1. Great story about the rock wren Brent, totaly worth it for these birds, did you manage any photos even when in the rain?

  2. Nope. Unfortunately it was just too wet so no photos. I have got some pretty nice shots from there in the past though.

  3. Hey, Brent, what was the bird at the Homer Tunnel? We saw a bellbird right by the carpark when we were there a few years ago.
    Totally irrelevsnt comment - we had the best meal ever of fish'n'chips at Jackson Bay at the ex- pie-cart - freshly caught and cooked fish to die for. Enjoying the trip especially as it is territory I know well.

  4. Ah...woops, it wasn't obvious so have edited the post. We were after rock wren...and they finally appeared!
    F&C's would have to be good to beat Hine's in Kaikoura! ;)