Monday 11 April 2011

Mallard Birding Tours, NZ??

A day or two late, but here is the blog for 9 April - the last day of our whirlwind Southern South Island and Stewart Island tour.  A full trip report with photos, based on the blogs from here, will be uploaded onto the 'Trip reports' section of our Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ website in the next few days...

Well, things had been going too well to date!  I’m afraid it is all a little embarrassing and we may seriously need to consider renaming ourselves...perhaps Mallard Birding Tours, NZ would be more suitable??!!
We left Oamaru this morning bright and early, heading northwards in search of wrybill.  We had a few hours up our sleeves and no other real target birds, so I thought it worth trying to find a wrybill.  At other times of the year when they are breeding on the rivers around Canterbury this may not be too difficult, but at this time of the year they have all finished breeding and either migrated north or are found at spots along the coast...surely it couldn’t be too hard!

We headed to Lake Ellesmere to a couple of spots, but obviously there had been a fair bit of rain and the lake margins were very wet and boggy.  We couldn’t easily get out to the main part of the lake, and scanning with the scope we could see thousands of ducks, Royal spoonbill, pied stilt, and even banded dotterel...but no wrybill!  We did get nice views of goldfinch though as a consolation.  And even more of a consolation was the fact that several locals, despite seeing wrybill at the site, only got distant views, and they had to walk out through the slush!

I figured perhaps the best bet, based on the water levels, was to head into Christchurch and check out the Avon-Heathcote Estuary.  We seemed to have timed it so perfectly for low tide (dam it!), that everything was spread out over hectares of mudflat, and despite seeing hundreds of South Island oystercatchers, a few bar-tailed godwit, and a few other bits and bobs...still no wrybill.  Right, I thought!  Let’s stop mucking around and head to a dead-cert...the Ashley Rivermouth.  The timing was getting tight, lunch was eaten in the car, and with the state of the Christchurch city roads following the quake, progress was slow (and I had a plane to catch that afternoon!).  We got to the Ashley Rivermouth and looked out over the mudflats...almost the first bird I saw was a black stilt (I think probably a long-staying bird that has been reported there before), then a great egret and several Royal spoonbill...quite a few banded dotterel...but no wrybill!!  We searched and searched, but with time against us had to concede.  We did quickly check out the river near the main road bridge, but nothing there either.  So, we headed back into Christchurch to drop the guys off at their accommodation, and I raced to the Airport to catch my flight home.  Not the end to a successful tour we had envisaged, but I think we had done so well on other aspects our luck had run out.  Still, it was a nice morning and we managed to see a few new birds for the trip and get nice views of a few other things to boot.

The new logo and name?

Bird of the day – definitely NOT wrybill!
Day total – Seen = 47 + 1H (grey warbler); new for the trip = 3; total for the trip to date = 92

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