Friday 30 November 2018

Day twelve - albatross and stilts

We were up super early this morning.  But my goodness was it worth it!  We saw something we had not seen for a while – sunshine!!!  We headed out to South Bay after hearing the word from Gazza that all was a go, and we were on the boat and off out onto a much calmer see just on 0600. Conditions had certainly ameliorated and the light was spectacular.  A first stop at a fishing boat, where we picked up a couple of wandering albatross, the usual Cape petrels and Northern Giant petrels, and two very beautiful adult black-browed albatross.  Excellent!
We then decided to head out into deeper water and see what we could find.  After stopping with the chum out for a bit we had amassed a nice selection of birds, again with both Northern and Southern Royal albatross, New Zealand wandering albatross, and Salvin’s and a Buller’s shearwater made a nice appearance, as did a Cook’s petrel.  We had good numbers of white-chinned petrels, and a couple of Westland, sometimes side by side which was nice, and a couple of Hutton’s shearwaters whizzed past.  Adding to the list we had a short-tailed shearwater do a couple of nice circuits, and as if then to provide a comparison several sooty shearwaters.
We headed out to another location, where we didn’t see anything different, but more nice views of things, and the light diminished a little, but boy had it been nice.
We decided to head on back in, and arrived back to the dock around 0830, time to head back to the Motel, pack the van, grab some lunch and then get on the road for the day.  We found a couple of big pods of dusky dolphins along the coast which we stopped and watched for a bit.  We also called into a small lake where we had a nice assortment of waterbirds, and then on further to an estuary.  Our target was wrybill, and with the recent (and current) flooding, we figured that many of the birds would be washed off the river and sheltering in the estuary. We were right, but the little blighters were out in the middle of the estuary on small islands, and none were close enough for photography.  Still it was a nice walk and the sun was shining!  We saw a few other bits and pieces, including our first black-fronted terns – such little stunners!  We had lunch in the sunshine and then continued our big drive.
Just on 1800 the light was perfect and we pulled into our first spot for a mega endemic – black stilt!  Would it, wouldn’t it??  There was a pair where we wanted them, and in the end stunning full frame pictures in beautiful light!  Wow! There were a number of double-banded plovers around as well, and they were coming in really close at one stage, so some beautiful shots of them as well.  We spent some time with the stilts, before leaving them where they were. Amazing end to a great day!
Although a nice craft beer and lamb curry was the real end to the day!

A New Zealand wandering albatross glides in on massive wings

A black-browed albatross scoots across the water

A short-tailed shearwater zips past for a look

White-chinned petrel coming past the boat

A Northern giant petrel comes in to land

A Northern Royal albatross with the Kaikoura coast in the background

A Southern Royal (left) and a New Zealand wandering mock display to each other

Black stilt in beautiful light

Female banded dotterel

Black stilt and reflection

Pied stilt, still a beautiful bird in its own right

Black stilt uncertain future?

1 comment:

  1. Stonking photos Brent! What lens are you using on the trip?