Monday 4 April 2011

Fruiting madness and a double falcon day

So up and off south, with the aim of heading through to Te Anau, seeing what the weather was like and maybe making a run for rock wren if it looked ok.  Leaving a drizzly Omarama things we headed through making a quick stop to check out a local riverbed, before then passing though the stunning Lindis Pass.  Weather was picking up all the time, and with golden tussocks and gob-smacking scenery it was all looking promising.  We made a few brief stops along the way for coffee, fuel and scenery, before taking lunch at the just before Te Anau.

The weather had certainly improved, so I decided it was better to head into the Eglinton and try for the often very weather dependent rock wren whilst it held off from the wetting stuff.  We had hardly entered the Eglinton Valley before a shape on a dead beech tree beside the road caught my eye, and almost pulling a perfect hand-brake turn pulled back alongside a stonking female falcon.  She flew down across the road in front of us, and disappeared into the long grass, before appearing again and flying to a small bush.  Whatever she had gone for she was unsuccessful, but we pulled along parallel with her, and through the scope had really nice views of what must have been another bird of the year.  She was dive-bombed by a small male falcon, who then disappeared off down the valley, but sure gave a great display of the size dimorphism these birds have.

She then did another couple of short flights, before flying across to the other side of the valley, landing in the top of a beech tree.  Not bad, three falcons in the first two days of a tour!

So we headed onwards, making a couple of other quick stops.  One included some superb views of male and female tomtit, black fantail, and grey warbler, and some of the most heavily laden Coprosma bushes I have ever seen.  It seems to be a really good year for fruiting plants!

At Homer tunnel there were no kea in the carpark (secretly pleased based on the hire care insurance excess!), and we headed up the loop track.  After a full circuit and no sight nor sound it was time to settle in.  Part way along the trail I heard the characteristic call a little way off, and after perhaps 8 minutes or so a rock wren finally showed itself.  We had great views of two birds, one a banded bird part of an Otago University study.  In the end both flew right past us, so very happy campers, and we even had a flying kea.  Checking the Hollyford on the way out, no sign of any blue duck, but we will give it a good bash tomorrow as well.
Awesome dinner as per usual at the Fat Duck in Te Anau...

Autumn colours in the Kawerau Valley

Sweet briar 'hip'

Sweet briar 'hip' with rain drops!


Bog pine in fruit

Coprosma fruiting madness

Coprosma fruiting madness

Stars of the day...rock wren

Stars of the day...rock wren

Bird of the day – Rock wren x2, SI tomtit (female) x1
Day total – Seen = 24 + 2H(kaka, dunnock); new for the trip = 3; total for the trip to date = 53

1 comment:

  1. We watched them catch that rock wren which now has the ring on and miss its mate which does not have the ring on