Monday 12 November 2012

Hail the duck

Despite a terrible weather forecast we awoke to a relatively nice morning…and though we had better make the most of it!  So off we headed to look for the target of the day – Blue duck.  There have been rumours going around that our regular site for this species has been not producing this year.  So the decision to check all possible places was made, and off we went.  The second stop we made, Phil came running back and beckoned.  We raced out and he explained he had seen a bird fly past down the river.  So we went onto a bridge and scanned both up and down.  Nothing…damn…we were just heading back to the van and spotted the bird paddling back up the river.  So back down, got everyone onto the bird, but it was really mobile and did a bit of a sweep around the river and then disappeared off around the corner.  Deciding we might have beeter luck somewhere else, we continued on.

Next stop we had another bird, and had the scope on it long enough for a few to get it, but others had to make do with binocular views as the bird flew straight towards us and right under us…and disappeared out of sight around the bend of the river.  Pretty nice really!

So we then focussed on our next target – long-taield cuckoo.  Having spent two very quiet days in long-tailed cuckoo territory we were keen to make the most of this day as we were in a good area.  We managed to hear a distanc one, and tried to get closer to where it was, but it had stopped calling.  We scanned and checked quite an area of forest, but nothing.  We did get robin and tomtit, and really nice views of a very obliging common redpoll.  But, no cuckoo…except for great views of another shining cuckoo!

We decided to head back to the lake and try and find a fernbird or two…but damn it even they were playing hard to get!  We did find a Royla spoonbill roosting with cormorants at the southern end of Lake Taupo, and checked a few spots for bittern, but none of them were found.

We headed on to another couple of spots, where we had lunch in the sunshine and scanned various parts of rivers coming down from Mt Ruapehu.  Excellent views of pipit and some nice red admiral butterflies, but no more blue duck.  So then on to Ruatiti, the usual sure fire spot.  We scanned the entire river from down through to Ruatiti Domain, meeting up with some other birders we knew on the way.  They had been there for a day and a bit and had been searching in vain as well.  So we gave them a few pointers and then headed through to the Domain, checked around there and then most of the spots again on the way back…still no luck.  It is hard to understand what has happened at this site – have the ducks gone?  Is it just the time of breeding with birds being very secretive (last year we were there the same time of year and saw at least a few, and I have been there before this time of year and seen the birds)?  Have predator numbers increased or river conditions changed drastically?  All a bit worrying really.

As we headed towards Ohakune the rain started to come, and as we headed for a forest patch to try for the cuckoo again it bucketed down , along with some of the forecast hail.  It showed no sign of letting up, so we headed straight through to Feilding and checked into our accomodation before another lovely dinner.

Bird of the day – TBA
Day total – Seen =46 + 1 heard (long-tailed cuckoo); new for the trip = 1; total for the trip to date = 119

Common redpoll showing himself off

Looking for long-tailed cuckoo

A duck-less spot, but a beautiful river.

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