Thursday 6 February 2014

Blue duck make an appearance

So it was up early and off our to see if we could find a blue duck!  I might add that some stayed in bed for an extra half hour though!  We headed to several spots along the Tongariro River, searching quite a decent part of the river, and it too quite some time for us to locate a pair of duck.  But when we did we had stunning views of them!  The pair sat quietly on the side of the river calling to each other and preening, and showed off really well, and we managed to get down pretty close to them and without disturbing them got really great views and photo opportunities.  We deserved that after all the river we had scanned and scoured!

We then headed back to the accommodation, packed our bags and grabbed some lunch from a bakery, before heading off to a couple of other close spots to look for fernbird, etc.  Fernbird showed briefly, but dabchick showed very well, and we had excellent views of them, even diving and coming to the surface with small fish.  Lots of black swan and scaup as well, and then we headed back past the spot where we had seen the blue duck to see if they were still present.  Despite scouring the river again in both directions the birds had moved on, and by now were probably tucked away in some cool shady spot.  We checked out another site a bit further up, but other than some stunning scenery, we found nothing new, and no more sign of blue duck.

Carrying on along the Desert Road, we had great views of the mountains, and made a quick photo stop for the ‘Hobbits’ to enjoy the scenery.  We made a relaxed lunch stop at a picnic area overlooking the Rangitikei Valley, with stunning rolling countryside which clearly hadn’t seen a lot of rain lately.

We then carried on towards the Manawatu Estuary, and arrived just as the tide was starting to drop.  Perfect timing!  There was a good flock of white-fronted terns roosting on the beach, and having heard there was a common tern around we scnned them and had the bird within minutes!  Nice!  We had great views of the bird, and were able to discuss the various Id features, and also how similar it really is to the white-fronted terns.  Not an easy bird to pick amongst the flock!

We then headed down to the spit area where the birds normally roost, but there were not a lot of red knot or bar-tailed godwit around, although a small flock of wrybill was centre of attention.  They, as always were very confiding, and so the photographers were able to sneak in on them.  A little tern was also still present, and showed pretty well, and several Pacific golden plover were also around.  We spent several hours in total enjoying the shorebirds, before then heading to the accommodation, and then to an awesome roast chicken dinner at a local café that had cooked especially for us!

Day total – Seen = 58 + 1 heard (robin); new for the trip = 4; total for the trip to date = 118

Photographing blue duck

My hobbits in front of Mount Doom (Mt Ngaruhoe)

Spectacular day with Mount Ruapehu in the sunshine

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