Friday 23 November 2018

Day six - falcon and cuckoos

It was up early and off back to Miranda to see what the morning light might bring us. The tide was well in and the godwit and red knot flock had started to roost in the Stilt Ponds.  We settled in and more and more streamed across with some big flocks pouring in and landing.  There were plenty of wrybill around as well, and four sharp-tailed sandpipers, plus the red-necked stint, and the light was really nice.  We took some photos, and watched, but the flock was too unsettled and so to avoid disturbance we kept our distance.  We found a few Pacific golden plover in amongst the smaller shorebirds as well, and then later as we left about another 25 or so roosting quietly by themselves.
We decided to head back to the accommodations to pack our gear, and then hit the road for Pureora Forest Park.  It was a bit of a drive, but during the middle of the day was perfect.  We arrived to a great spot in the forest around 1300 and munched on our lunches, with close fly-by kaka, a confiding North Island robin and lots of tui, whitehead, etc.  We headed off to do a forest walk, and almost immediately found a group of about 5 yellow-crowned parakeets.  They showed really well and we managed some nice images before they dispersed.  We encountered a few more robins, and there was lots of calling around the forest, with kaka seemingly quite abundant.  We even had copulating kaka!  And a snatch of falcon calling had us peering skywards, but too thick was the canopy and too far the bird.
We headed to another location and went for a short walk, having heard a long-tailed cuckoo on the drive, but failing to get a glimpse – at least they were here! We kept eyes peeled for falcon and then ducked into another forest patch.  More kaka, more robin, and then glimpses of rifleman that just seemed to vanish…damn.
Back in the open we caught a good but brief view of a falcon flying with prey hanging from its talons.  It seemed to land, but we lost it, and looking out over the area where it disappeared we could not refind it.  So we carried on.  A flyover long-tailed cuckoo that was missed by all, and a few distant calling tomtit…sometimes the birds make you work.  Late afternoon we drove some roads looking for pipit, and listening for cuckoos, but nothing.  So we decided it was late and we needed to head for our accommodation.  We traversed a gravel road, windows still down in case, and then the call we had been waiting for – a long-tailed cuckoo that sounded pretty close.  We jumped out, and there it was flying off down the road over us.  It landed again and so we approached, but glimpses only of it moving through the tree, until it flew again and this time landed in a kamahi tree that was open enough to allow views!  Wow, and this bird was fired up, with another calling a bit further away. We watched as it screeched with bill wide open, and then scolded with wings spread and pumping!  In the end we needed to get going, who ever drives away from scope views of a long-tailed cuckoo!!!  Amazing!
We checked into the accommodation, had a great dinner, and then fell into bed!  A long, but amazing day!
Sharp-tailed sandpipers are cracking little things!

Bar-tailed godwit coming in to roost with their friends

Bar-tailed godwits at rest

Just can't get enough of North Island robins

Beautiful yellow-crowned parakeet

Copulating kaka!

Star performer - a long-tailed cuckoo screams at us

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