Monday 18 February 2019

Day seven - forest birding

The fact that a morepork was still calling when we got up signifies this was an early start to the day!  We had quite a drive ahead of us, and so being up early and on the road just after 0700 was called for.  We grabbed lunch quickly after packing the van, and then headed south from Whitianga. We made a short stop at the same shorebird stop as yesterday after leaving Miranda, and the tides were a bit better and this time there were seven cattle egret (some in breeding plumage and carrying sticks as nesting material!) and three Far Eastern curlew – nice additions to the list, and the latter was a lifer for some.  A wrybill right in front of us was also a treat!
We carried on south, checking out a wetland area, but unfortunately no bittern were evident.  Always worth a try with this tricky bird.  Driving some back roads we managed to find a couple of California quail, and a few ducks and other things, but no bittern.  Carrying on south after a quick coffee and fuel stop, we were really into falcon country and so eyes were peeled.  Especially after all the coffee!!
We pulled into Pureora Forest Park just after midday, and had lunch overlooking a good area of forest.  Kaka fly bys were had, and a couple of yellow-crowned parakeets.  But as we finished lunch we headed in to the forest to do a short walk.  Impressive trees were not the only things to spot, and within a few minutes we had really nice views of kaka, followed by a juvenile shining cuckoo begging and still being fed by two adult (and rather bedraggled) grey warblers.  Poor little guys!  We were then on to a couple of nice yellow-crowned parakeets, and the next thing of interest was a Peripatus!  Cool – not often you get to find one of these, and it was the first log that was looked in!  There were plenty of North Island robins to follow, but no sign of tomtit, although fantail and whitehead were both seen.
After a nice walk we did a little drive and then another short walk.  We spent a little time scanning for falcon also, but to no avail, although the resident pigeons were out in full force still doing display flights.  The walk saw a few more robins, more kaka, and a snatch of long-tailed cuckoo call, but no sightings of the latter.  Next up was a family of rifleman that were clearly feeding juveniles, and kept bouncing around in the branches of a tawa tree.  Not the easiest to see!
We did a bit more driving and a bit more looking and listening for falcon/long-tailed cuckoo, but then it was time to head towards Turangi.  So, we drove some roads through excellent forest on the way, but not a squeak from either.  Ah well, worth a try.  The visibility was great and with very little cloud beautiful views of the mountains as we headed towards Turangi.  A beautiful Italian meal, a few drinks and it was time to rest our weary heads!

Bird of the day– Kaka x5, yellow-crowned parakeet x1, rifleman x2

Guardian of the forest

Looking for rifleman in the trees!

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