Saturday 24 November 2018

Day seven - bittern and ducks

We were up early to grey skies…bummer, but as per the weather forecast.  We loaded up and headed out to a couple of sites. Aim was to spend a bit of time first thing looking for bittern and other lakeside things, and then look for ducks of the blue kind!
We checked a few likely spots for bittern before Greg said, I’ve got one!  And there it was sticking straight up like a stick, but standing on top of the old dead reedbed.  It was completely out in the open, and literally 45m away!  And it sat there, relaxed and pulled down its neck, and sat there and sat there!  Every now and then as a harrier passed or something got it interested, it would raise its head skywards and peer.  But incredible views and photographs of one of New Zealand’s toughest native birds to photograph!  Whilst all this was going on we had a spotless crake calling nearby, and a fernbird pop up and give itself up as well!  Sensational! In the end a harrier or something agitated the bird and it flew, and the sound of shutters erupted…did we get it?
We moved on a bit and looked for more fernbird, and another bittern flew past several times.  The original bird we had been watching had only flown a short way, but more obstructed, and even gave a number of booms from its new location!
Unfortunately, the weather forecast was accurate, and spots of rain started and steadily turned into pretty substantial rain.  So we checked a couple of places by van for other things we needed, and then searched a little of the river for blue ducks.  Nothing at the first stop.  We headed to another location, where the rain had almost ceased, nothing there, but the sound of a shining bronze cuckoo buoyed our spirits, although it never showed.  We headed back to the original location for ducks, and after a little searching, bingo! There was a pair feeding on the other side of the river.  We spent a bit of time with them, watching them feed in the shallow rapids, completely disappearing as they turned their backs and merged beautifully into the background.
We then decided to head back to town, grab some lunch and have a break during the middle of the day, get some washing done etc, and then head out again in the afternoon. But the show wasn’t over! Arriving outside our rooms a shining bronze cuckoo gave a few calls and there it was, completely showing off for us. Shutters raged into action again, and some nice images of the cuckoo were collected.
We had lunch, downloaded images, did laundry and hoped the weather would improve. In the mid-afternoon we headed out to a forest area, where it was a light drizzle.  But under the canopy it was reasonably dry and we got reasonable views of rifleman and some better views of tomtit.  Also glimpsed yellow-crowned parakeet and heard a number of kaka, as well as seeing fantail, grey gerygone, and a few other bits and pieces.
We then headed to a site for fernbird, but they did not show well, although fantails and whitehead were much more obliging.  Before we then check another couple of sites on the river.  Another pair of blue duck at a different site, this time a little closer, and although they really didn’t want to wake up, they did eventually move off downstream after a brief bit of preening.
It was then time to head back to the accommodation, before another great dinner!
Australasian bittern first looks, it was on alert

Peering our way

Taking flight

A fernbird plays peek-a-boo

Where's the duck!?

Cracking views of a shining bronze cuckoo

Sleepy time

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