Wednesday 9 November 2011

A wren on a rock

We were on the road and heading towards Queenstown with the sun shining yet again...let’s not jinx it, but we have been damn lucky so far!  We headed through the scenic Cardrona way to Frankton, even stopping for more scenic photos, but with eyes constantly peeled for falcon.  No luck on the falcon, and we skirted through Frankton and up the shores of Lake Wakatipu towards Te Anau.

With no steam train fanatics there was no need to stop in at the ‘Kingston Flyer’ and as we started to get onto the more open farmland areas we started to encounter small numbers of black-billed gulls and the odd black-fronted tern.  Of course South Island oystercatchers were seen out in the paddocks as well.

We cruised into Te Anau, grabbed some lunch (predictably more pies at Miles Better Pies!), and then headed out towards Homer Tunnel.  The sun was still shining, and it was just too great an opportunity to get to Homer Tunnel and look for rock wren in lovely conditions.  We made a few stops along the way, checking previously successful falcon spots, but nothing until a pair flew out and up the valley and off into the distance.  Nice flight views for most people, and we also had lovely red admiral butterflies playing in the sun, kaka, tomtit, etc.  At the Homer Tunnel we had a rock wren within about 30 seconds (which has to be a record for me), as a male flew directly behind and within metres of Marvin, Bruce and Dwight.  Of course they were all standing admiring the damn scenery as it flew right past them!  With me yelling and gesticulating wildly they quickly put their cameras away thinking I was berating them yet again for admiring the scenery, and luckily the rock wren decided to watch the spectacle from a few metres away and everyone ended up with superb views, only to have the female appear and hang about for a bit before also disappearing off uphill with the male.  Awesome!

We decided that with the sunshine and beautiful conditions we may as well hang around, and about 45 minutes later they both reappeared and this time showed themselves off even better.  Worth the wait!  We then spent some time watching the kea playing in the carpark, chasing the cars around and trying to pull bits of rubber off hire vehicles, before heading off slowly back towards Te Anau.  No sign of any blue duck during the day despite spending a little time searching...they have to be here somewhere!  On the way back we found a dead long-tailed cuckoo on the side of the road, obviously struck by a car.  A sad end for such a beautiful bird that has travelled so far!

Back in Te Anau we checked in to our accommodation, had a bit of a break and then headed out for dinner.  What a spectacular day!

Bird of the day – Rock wren x7
Day total – Seen = 43 + 1 dead (long-tailed cuckoo); new for the trip = 1; total for the trip to date = 151

Hollyford River

Looking from Homer Tunnel

Waterfalls at Homer Tunnel

Male rock wren...what a stunner!

Male rock wren calling

Kea in its native habitat...a carpark

Look at me!

Up close and personal


  1. very lucky Brent, I missed on rock wren this trip due to snow and avalance danger, I was at hommer tunnel on Saturday before you the the whole valley was fill of snow, even no way to park without getting stuck.
    But even then I spent a total of a minute at the tunnel due to avalance thunder starting to form and I even saw a small avalance happening on way out of the tunnel.
    Arthurs pass wasnt much better as there was a extreme avalance risk.

  2. Yes I was with Tim too - two days earlier & you ones would have been out of luck too!!