Sunday 18 November 2012

Soggy kiwi

A drizzly morning didn’t bode well as we headed back down the coast. We made a quick stop at Pancake Rocks, walking around the circuit and luckily the rain held off. There was quite a few white-fronted terns nesting on some of the stacks just off the mainland, and checking these there were no vagrants, but interesting to see birds with a variety of leg colours as usual, most tending to be black, but some with blackish red legs. Several spotted shags were also around.

As we headed south we had pretty heavy rain most of the way in to Greymouth…and then a funny clicking noise started in the back of the van. Saturday morning in Greymouth, chance of a workshop being open…NIL! Luckily the AA were at hand and with a quick call somebody was with us in about quarter of an hour. Seems the clicking is just to do with the air vent director in the back, so we disconnected it, and no more clicking. Thankfully not a major operation, and with it raining like it was we hadn’t missed a thing.

Continuing south we decided to have an early lunch in Hokitika and see if the weather let up. So we had a café lunch, a quick wander of the streets of Hokitika, and then on the road again. The rain continued for a bit, but then gradually it got brighter and brighter. With patches of blue in the sky, I’d just mentioned to Mike, who was in the front seat to look out for falcon, and bingo. A rimu snag looked a little strange, and we stopped and realised it was a falcon sitting on the top! Falcon, falcon! Everyone scrambled to get out, as a couple of tui dive bombed the bird, but there needn’t have been the rush as we soon had it in the scope and everyone had ample time to study the bird. It was trying to dry itself in the sun, and eventually after a couple of stretches flew off calling loudly, sending several pigeon and tui into the air. It then appeared a bit later off in the distance, spiraling up into the clouds. Awesome!

Continuing on we stopped for some nice scope views of Australasian great crested grebe, and then decided to head towards Okarito. We stopped and had great views of an obliging male South Island tomtit who was collecting food along the roadside, and then finally managed to get good views of a fernbird that was also feeding young. It climbed up into a manuka tree and called with its beakful of insects, before fluttering across the road.

We headed out to the Okarito lagoon and snagged a couple of great egrets and saw a pair of paradise ducks with two ducklings. Apparently there had been eight, but only two are still alive, I wonder if they will make it!? We then went and met with Ian Cooper from Okarito Kiwi Tours and had a run down on the evenings kiwi hunt, before then heading to Franz Josef to check into the accomodation and grab some dinner.

As we left Franz to head back out to Okarito it started to drizzle again…damn it! But at Okarito it was looking ok, and we met with Ian and then got our gear together and headed out. As the light started to fade we took our positions and waited…soon the morepork started to call and we knew it was time! The odd little skiff of light drizzle came through…nothing too bad and we waited, changing positions a few times as Ian kept up with where the birds were. Then we could hear it coming, what had to be a massive rain shower gradually grew closer, and hit with a real wallop just as the male BZ was about to come out in front of us. Thorugh the pouring rain we got a pretty good view of him running off down the track, but if only the rain had held off! In the end we also saw his mate Beaumont pretty well, and then managed to glimpse him a couple more times as he fed in the shrubbery. It was a hard work night, but thanks to Ian’s skill and patience we managed to get some pretty good views of New Zealand’s rarest kiwi species. Damp clothes were draped around rooms as bodies hit beds!

Bird of the day – Okarito kiwi x8, falcon x1
Day total – Seen = 50 + 1 heard (morepork); new for the trip = 5; total for the trip to date = 143

Falcon stretching just before it flew off calling.

Miro leaves in the sunshine.

Rimu leaves with rain droplets still hanging.

Fernbird perched with an insect for its chicks.

Male South Island tomtit perched on the side of a manuka trunk.

Male South Island tomtit showing the yellowish tint to the breast.

Male South Island tomtit with an insect for its chicks.

Paradise duckling with the female in the background.

Paradise duckling walking through a puddle.

And side on.

The last of eight ducklings apparently.

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