Tuesday 19 November 2019

Day eight - doo duck inn

We were up pretty early, and out the door, with blue skies, but a very crisp feel to the air!  We headed out to a spot where we hoped we might find Australasian bittern.  We parked the van and headed out, and within a short time heard booming off in the distance.  Then a very close boom, including the inhalations at the start of the boom clearly audible.  Very cool.  We were scanning the reeds and looking looking, but nothing obvious.  Nearby a spotless crake called, and fernbird also.  Then all of a sudden a bittern took off from fairly close, only to drop back down into the reeds after about 80m of low flying.  Everyone got onto it, but not ideal views.
We stayed and watched for more action, but nothing, and so decided to try a slightly different vantage point.  We had nice views, but still no more bittern action.  So, we enjoyed great close views of dabchick, scaup, and various cormorants and waterbirds.
We then headed off to find blue duck, a key target of the day, and something that can either be found first off, or absorb a pretty good part of the morning.  We got to a great location and started checking likely spots, but nothing was obvious.  After a good bit of searching still nothing, but then we managed to start adding other things.  Nice views of a couple of dunnocks, lots of finches, a shining bronze cuckoo that did a number of flybys, but never sat still for long, and several more cormorants.
We scanned and scanned likely areas, but nothing of a blue duck.  Until, we came down onto the river bank and there was a pair of blue ducks right in front of us with two small ducklings!  Yes!  Awesome views at very close range, watching them paddle in the fast-moving water, feeding, preening, and going about their business.  Very happy with such lovely views!  We enjoyed the moment, and then headed off, back to the accommodation, packed the van, had a bit of brekkie, and headed off towards Taupo.
A quick stop to look for fernbird, which we had already seen a couple of times, but why not see it again!  And redpoll showed well also.  We carried on through to a forested area, passing through some pretty magnificent scenery.  We had lunch and spotted another shining bronze cuckoo, then went for a walk through the forest.  Great views of tomtit, whitehead, rifleman, and robin, and some nice botany along the way.  Even a NZ red admiral or two.  We posed for a photo, and then head off towards the coast.
In Napier we checked out a couple of sites, finding the long-staying plumed whistling duck (down to just one now), as well as a big little pied shag colony, black-billed gulls, shovelers, and various other waterfowl.  Then on to a wetland habitat, where we quickly got on to several black-fronted dotterel, stunning as always, and then three sharp-tailed sandpipers.  A nice shorebird to claw back!  Perhaps the biggest surprise was a mute swan – where was that from?!
It was then time to head off to the accommodation, check in to the rooms, and then off to dinner, but not before a quick look around the Art Deco sights of Napier.  Another lovely dinner and then a quick nights sleep!

Day total – Seen = 66 inc 3 heard, (peafowl, pheasant, spotless crake); new for the trip = 9; total for the trip to date = 119
Ducks on the water!

Duck watchers!

The crazy group waiting for a kiwi to cross

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