Tuesday 12 April 2011

Back to Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ...no rebranding needed!

Well we were up and off through the streets of Auckland this morning bright and early - Day One.  First stop was the Mangere area for shorebirds, and after batting the spotted doves out of the way on the way there we arrived at a very birdy Mangere.  It was low tide, and in front of us at one stage was at least 1000 or so wrybill...spread out over the mudflats, looking like little white cobbles.  Where were these little #$%##@ when I needed them in Christchurch three days ago (stupid question, they were probably here!).  So I can now reinstate ourselves as Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ!  No more Mallard tours, although we did see a few mallards this morning as well.

There were a lot of shorebirds around though, with good numbers of banded dotterel, even a couple of red knot and bar-tailed godwit, and several black-fronted dotterel.  There was also a small group of Royal spoonbill, a single reef egret, and lots of South Island oystercatchers spread out over the mudflats.  Checked the channel for brown teal, but no luck, but lots of mallards, a couple trying to look all the world like grey duck, some nice shoveler and a few grey teal.  In the ponds at the end of the causeway were several dabchick as well.

We then cut a track for Pureora Forest Park, where we basically turned the corner, I said ‘There’s definitely falcon in this area’, and then 100m down the road there was one sitting on a fence post looking at us.  I had earlier said I’d not really seen them sitting on fence posts, so it was obviously there just to prove me wrong.  No matter, New Zealand falcon in the bag again on the first day of a tour before lunch can’t be a bad thing!  We had nice views of it perched, then flying and then perched again, with the possibility of there being a second bird.  We then had some lunch whilst overlooking the forest, getting great views of whitehead, yellow-crowned parakeet, silvereye, grey warbler, tui and bellbird, and glimpses of tomtit.  But shortly thereafter whilst searching for the ventriloquist rifleman, we had great views of North Island robin and North Island tomtit.  Finally found the rifleman in question, and had nice views of ‘her’ as she fed up and down branches.  A fleeting glimpse of a kaka that flew quietly in and then ‘disappeared’ also.

We then drove a few nearby roads searching for more kaka sightings, but no luck, so then headed on to Ruatiti for blue duck.  And we were in luck with great scope views of at least eight different ducks, perched, feeding and doing their thing.  A stoat right by the road bridge was an interesting sighting, showing really well, but obviously we were hoping it then trundled off to the nearest trap-box to ‘present itself’...wishful thinking I know!

We then headed back to Turangi having absolutely stonking views of the mountains with all three in the central plateau showing well with almost no hint of cloud, and a stunning sunset with Mt Taranaki to the west.  What better end to the day...well perhaps the beers enjoyed in the bar were a better end, but it was all good.  A great start!

We can revert to the original name!

Bird of the day – Rifleman x1, blue duck x1
Day total – Seen = 62; new for the trip = 62; total for the trip to date = 62

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