Thursday 8 November 2012

Lies, all lies!

Drip, drip, drip…that was the sound we awoke to despite the fact the MetService predicted fine weather for Auckland, so based on that prediction I should have been ready for rain! Anyway, it had rained during the night and that was pretty much the last we saw of it thankfully.

We headed for a bakery and grabbed lunch, then o nthe road to see if we could get to see the recently reported shore plover at Stillwater. Unfortunately, it was further than we expected and we just didn’t have time do it, so it was on to meet the ferry for Tiritiri Matangi Island. We arrived and unloaded and waited for the ferry, scanning for anything along the shoreline…no reef egret. The it was onto the ferry and a very quiet crossing (except for the 50 or so school kids yelling and screaming). As we neared the Tiri wharf we caught a couple of flesh-footed shearwaters in the distance, and a couple of parasitic jaegers (or Arctic skuas as most of the World knows them).

After arriving we were briefed on the island and then made our way up towards the Bunk House. On the way we found a few brown teal on the wharf dam and then of course most of the usual suspects on the way up. Whitehead, red-crowned parakeet, saddleback, stitchbird, all came pretty quickly, along with bellbird (both male and female which was nice), North Island robin, and of course brown quail. Great views of everything as usual and everyone was happy as we arrived at the accomodation and met with Jess the Ranger. After the intro we then had lunch and managed a little retail therapy before it was time to head off and track down the last of the species we needed. This was all rudely hijacked as a male kokako started singing from just above the Bunk House, and we had stunning views of the male singing, flapping his wings, and the female come in briefly also. We gathered quite a crowd with a number of the day trippers and others congregating as soon as we started looking up into the trees. At some stage I passed my Leica HD’s on to a school kid, and about 10 minutes later suddenly thought ‘Damn where are my bins?’ Luckily managed to track them down.

We then headed off and wandered out towards the NE part of the island, with our main targets now being takahe and spotless crake. We managed to see another pair of kokako, this time feeding low in the sub-canopy and giving great views , and then good views of a fernbird also, having heard them in a number of places. As we gradually made our way to the NE end of the island we found a pair of takahe with a well developed immature bird probably from last year, and had great views of them. This was more the takahe of the wild, not the big lbue friendly chicken, as these guys were quite skulky and hid away from us.

We then stopped and waited at one of the damns for a a spotless crake. And waited, and waited, and then one was spotted…just as Jess and others arrived in the ATV and made a racket! OK, lets wait…so we waited, and waited, and then there it was again, under the flax, to the right of the stump, right in the open…everyone on to it…or so I thought. To see a spotless crake, you really have to see the orangey legs, the generally blue black plumage, the subtley barred undertail, and of course the red eye. Everyone saw it…brilliant! Great views, until one person (name with-held) owned up that she hadn’t. OK, no problem, it’ll be out again. She was right beside me, there it is, to the right of the dark stump, in the dark corner, see it…hesitation…no. To the left of the the stump, see it…no. Hmmm this called for a new strategy. Outlined all the potential locations, and then there it was again…just to the left of the dark stump…did you see it…ahh, yes…did you really?...NO. This is a new one! Telling fibs about actually seeing the bird just to make the guide shut up!! In the end the bird was seen, and all were happy. It was a real little performer and they are such a great bird that it is not something to miss.

So then it was time to head back and start cooking dinner. Too bad the BBQ was out of action, but we struggled through some of NZ’s finest lamb and beef offerings and even the Marlborough Salmon wasn’t bad!

After dinner we headed out in search of the nocturnal specialties. Shortly after headed out it started to spit, and damn it shortly after that it was more than spitting! We kept at it, and after hearing a couple of kiwi, and morepork, the rain finally eased off. Unfortunately it didn’t help the temperature and no tuatara were found, but on the way back we had awesome views of a little spotted kiwi on the track for about 45 seconds, right in the middle of the track. Then a bit further down the track another bird which gave fast running views and then either it or a third bird that again gave prolong views. Fantastic!

We headed back to the Bnk House pretty happy, found our beds, and fell in to them!

Bird of the day – TBA
Day total – Seen = 47 + 2 heard (morepork, chaffinch); new for the trip = 12; total for the trip to date = 88

Two brown quail think about running for cover.

Nice view od a NZ pigeon sitting in a puriri tree.

Male bellbird also in a puriri tree, resting after checking out the last of the flowers.

Feeding kokako, stunning views of it in the sub-canopy.

Red-crowned parakeet perched on flax stalk.

Red-crowned parakeet perched on a flax flower-head.

One of the takahe peering out.

The lighthouse and environs on Tiritiri Matangi.

Jane and Mike stroll back across Tiri with a beaut background

Our hotel for the night - the Bunk House on the island.

Male paradise shelduck with different facial pattern.

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