Saturday 16 February 2019

Day five - stonking wrybill

We were up early, still with kiwi fresh in our minds.  The night had been short, and creatures of the night grunted and snuffled nearby… (ahem!).  We breakfasted, cleaned the bunkhouse a bit, and then packed and headed out.  Our aim was to try and get better views of kokako as they had been giving us the run around.  We head on down towards the wharf, and made a few stops along the way, and then found the location we had heard and glimpsed the pair yesterday.  We sat and waited, and waited.  Good numbers of other birds and activity around us – with great views of male Stitchbird, bellbird, red-crowned parakeet, tui, pigeon, etc – but where was the target?!  Finally, after about 1.25 hours a bird showed.  It was glimpsed again and then showed itself reasonably well, but kept moving, making it a hard target for some.  It then seemed to drop to the ground, stopped calling, and completely disappeared!  Never to be seen again, damn!
With time running out we had to head down to the wharf and then found out our water taxi was going to be late due to the fairly strong winds coming from the SW. The ferry made it however, and after a little fancy footwork we were on the ferry back to Gulf Harbour, and had cancelled the water taxi.  It would have been a pretty bumpy and unpleasant ride back in the water taxi, and was much more comfortable on the ferry.
We packed the bags back into the van back at Gulf Harbour, fuelled and grabbed some lunch at a nearby petrol station, and then drove to an estuary area where we sat and had lunch looking out at ducks, cormorants and shorebirds! Excellent.  Our first grey teal of the trip, and another couple of dabchick, paradise shelducks….and then WRYBILL!  Distant out on the mudflats, but there they were in all their splendour! We decided the light was not great and they were distant, and had a good plan for the afternoon.  So off we headed towards Miranda.
We arrived to our accommodation early afternoon, checked in, waited out the heat of the day and freshened up, and then headed out to Miranda in the late afternoon.  Perfect timing with the tide, and it was starting to cool a little.  In front of the hides we had several thousand bar-tailed godwit, and also a good thousand or more South Island oystercatchers. Some of the bar-tailed godwit were in absolutely cracking breeding plumage – a sign that they will soon be departing our shores for more northern climes!  We switched locations and found a large flock of several hundred wrybill and set about searching through them and the nearby red knot flock also.  A number of Pacific golden plovers were found, and then a couple of other small shorebirds.  First off a red-necked stint, then what was thought to be a curlew sandpiper – except it was hard to confirm when roosting sitting and with beak tucked in!  It was confirmed later though, and then a grey-tailed tattler was found also – a rather rare vagrant to these parts.  We had good looks at the wrybill and watched them moving with the wind and whatever else was stirring them.  A great time to stand and scan with binoculars and scopes.
As the evening drew on we decided to move on, and just as we did the birds got up and flew around a bit.  Lovely to see big flocks of birds in the sky.  We headed off for dinner at a local fish and chip shop – beautiful fresh fish and a couple of drinks with dinner!  Now for a restful night.

Bird of the day– Kokako x1, Stitchbird x5, wrybill x2
Checking out the roosting shorebirds

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