We had a little sleep in this morning, and luckily as we woke the sun was shining and all was looking good. We packed the van and then headed through to have a quick look for blue duck in a few spots. As we got into the mountains there was a little drizzle and some very low cloud, but as we punched through on to the West Coast we left both behind, but a ceiling of grey remained. Luckily though as we got closer to the coast this burnt off and we were again in sunshine.
We made a few quick stops along the way, and pulling into a little town for a toilet stop we found a few ferals – a couple of chcikens and two guinea fowl! Some fodder for the cameras at least! We carried on and made a quick stop at a sewage ponds, where we scanned the waterfowl in case there was anything of great interest. Nice views of a range of ducks – some good looking grey duck, lots of scaup, and a few shovelor…but no Australian vagrants!
We carried on and grabbed some lunch, filled with fuel, and then drove to a lovely little lake where we spotted a great egret as it flew to a new position on the lake shore. We ate lunch in the sun and then did a short walk through some beautiful forest. It was a little quiet at first, but we soon tracked down a tomtit and a small flock of brown creeper who came in and gave great views. They really are stunning little fellas, with real character. We carried on back to the van and then headed southwards through more spectacular scenery. A few quick scenic stops along the way, and then a stop in a wetland area to see if we could rustle up a fernbird. We wandered around, not hearing a single squeak from a fernbird! We persisted, and eventually heard one distantly, but it appeared to not to want to come in. We decided enough was enough, and headed on to Franz Josef to our accommodation. We checked in and had a little relax, and then headed to an early dinner in town.
After dinner we grabbed our things, and headed back out. We decided to give the fernbird another go…and still nothing! Until finally we had birds reacting, and then got pretty decent views of one of them scurrying about in the vegetation. Great! We then carried on and headed to meet Ian Cooper at Okarito at his place. He gave us a run down of the Okarito kiwi – the rarest of the five species of kiwi with just around 400 birds – and then a briefing on what we were going to do. We then jumped back in the vehicle and headed out to his spot. We chatted and organised ourselves and then headed out. He checked the location of the pair we were going to focus on, and adjust our plans slightly. We then got into position, and as the light faded, a big old moon – not quite full – came up and the morepork started calling. We waited and as we did so the mosquitos came out with a vengeance…but we were prepared. We waited and then all of a sudden as it was almost to dark to see without a torch, there was a female kiwi right in front of us. About 10m away was a burrow that the pair has been excavating, and the female had just arrived. She set about messing around and kicking dirt out, and then the male arrived. Unseen, he gave about four little quiet calls, and then stepped into view. The pair interacted with each other for a few moments, and then she disappeared down into the burrow, and we watched him for a little while. He then disappeared down into the burrow, a tight squeeze still as his legs flicked back dirt and he appeared to almost slide down into the burrow with feet extended backwards – very amusing to watch. All was quiet for about 8-10 minutes and then all of a sudden a female and then a male called about 70-80m away. All of a sudden the pair came rushing out of the burrow and off up the hill towards the neighbouring pair, disappearing into the bush! Wow – what an experience – to see a pair of kiwi, at their burrow and interacting like they had is just an unforgettable experience! Ian Cooper had done us proud!
We headed back to the carpark, patted each other on the back, and then headed back to the motel, pulling in to the carpark at 9:58pm – now that has to be a record!
Day total – Seen = 38 + 3 heard (variable oystercatcher, morepork, rifleman); new for the trip = 2; total for the trip to date = 145
Bird of the day – Okarito kiwi x5
|The mighty Waimakiriri River|
|A nice bit of beech forest in the sunshine|
|Looking up into beech forest|
|A blue duck-less spot - but worth a try|
|What a specimen - feral chicken!|
|Guinea fowl - crippling views!|
|Another feral looking bashful|
|Small details, a sundew in a ditch|