Saturday 1 February 2014

Rumblings in the night!

After strange nocturnal rumblings in some of the bunkhouse rooms, most were up early and out to see the forest start to come alive as the sun got up.  Photographers headed out and snapped away at saddleback, kokako, stitchbird, and even a pair of roosting morepork were found.  So a good start to the day!

After a quick clean, tidy and packing up at the bunkhouse, we all headed down to the wharf to meet the water taxi, which took us back towards Gulf Harbour.  But on the way we passed slowly through a massive flock of birds which were feeding in association with kahawai which were obviously feeding right on the surface and bringing a lot of smaller things to the surface.  Gannets were diving into the water, and flesh-footed, Buller’s and fluttering shearwaters were all over the sea, with the odd white-fronted tern, and just a single Arctic skua.  A real spectacle as we passed slowly through the flock.
Arriving back at Gulf Harbour we reloaded the van and then headed off towards Auckland.  A not so quick stop at a petrol station for fuel and lunch (managed to freeze the computer system when paying!), and we then passed over what was apparently a ‘secondary highlight’ which was the Auckland Harbour bridge, which with the sun shining gave great views out over Auckland City.  We arrived at our accomodation in Miranda, checked in, and then headed down to the Miranda Shorebird Centre to say hello to Keith and spend some money on books and other souveners.  They have a great selection of books and other things, so definitely worth stopping in at.  We also checked the board for the latest sightings, and then went down to the Stilt Pond to see what we could find.

The tide was slowly coming in, but had a long way to go, so we scanned the mudflats in front of the hide.  Massive numbers of bar-tailed godwit and red knot were visible out on the mudflats, feeding busily.  But a little closer we managed to find our real target for the day – wrybill!  We had some nice views of these great little shorebirds feeding on the mud not too far off, a real treat.  We then managed to find a few red-necked stint, sharp-tailed sandpiper, and curlew sandpiper, as well as a lot of banded dotterel.  As it was still very warm, and the tide still had a way to go, we headed back to the accomodation for a little while, although some of the photographers decided to stay out and try their luck with buff-banded rail.

When we arrived back at wader roost, the tide was really starting to push things in, and over the course of the next two hours we had stunning views of all of the shorebirds right up in front of us as they were pushed in.  There was also a large group of pied oystercatchers, and a few black-billed gulls, and small groups of wrybill were continuously flying over us towards the Stilt Ponds.  As the birds got pushed up with the tide they started to fly around and we had stunning views and photo opportunities of the birds wheeling around in front of us.  The sun was getting low, the bellies were rumbling, and it was time to head off for dinner…a spot of fish and chips at the Kaiaua Fish Shop!  Delicious!

Day total – Seen = 68 (fernbird); new for the trip = 7; total for the trip to date = 98

Morepork looking on sleepily from its roost

Male stitchbird with tail cocked

Juvenile black-billed gull in flight

Scattered over the mudflats

Large flock of pied oystercatchers takes to the wing

Bar-tailed godwits in flight

More godwits in flight

Mixed flock of bar-tailed godwits and red knot in flight

Godwit and knot on the rising tide

Bar-tailed godwits in flight


Godwit in flight

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