Up a little later, to have a relaxed start to the day. A beautiful morning as everyone met at the van to start to pack, and we then headed off, back out to the estuary…you never know what might be around, right? And as the tide was dropping we scanned the mudflats, hmmm… bar-tailed godwits, red knot, pied stilts…bingo! Pacific golden plover! Excellent, we had nice views of the bird amongst the other shorebirds, and then out on its own. A quick scan revealed nothing else of significances, so off we headed, checking another location quickly, before getting on the road towards Wellington.
We had a nice drive down the coast, stopping in at a couple of little spots along the way. We were able to pick up a few waterfowl, including some nice close views of scaup, shoveler, black swan, and then the target bird – little black cormorant. Funny how things get missed along the way, even relatively common birds that you normally find in a few spots. So, we targeted this one and it came to us, flying in and landing right in front of us, and feeding right there. Nice! Also, nice views of Royal spoonbill as well.
We continued south, grabbing lunch, and arriving at the ferry terminal nice and early had great views of a little penguin just off shore. We loaded up onto the ferry, and departed around midday, heading out in blue skies and calm conditions. Another couple of little black cormorants waved at us from the wharf beside the ferry – of course!
We got out into the open ocean and the wind started to pick up, but very little swell. Nothing really to see except the odd fluttering shearwater, until we got out of the lee of the North Island and really into the windy zone. And then some great birds – Salvin’s white-capped and a probable Campbell albatross all showed reasonably well. Probably around 25 Westland petrels, several Northern giant petrel, and a possible Southern giant petrel, as well as a super little Cape petrel. Not a lot of diversity, but some nice birds anyway, and a few new to the trip and the group!
At the entrance to the Tory channel, we had a pod of three killer whales go past the ferry! Awesome! And then a bit further in we had lots of fluttering shearwaters, a very pale Parasitic jaeger (Arctic skua), gannets, red-billed gulls and then some spotted shags. A little while later we spotted at least four King shags on a rock, so that was nice to get them, although better views desired. We then had huge numbers of fluttering shearwaters, and a few dusky dolphins, so a pretty darn good crossing.
At Picton we drove off the ferry, setting wheels on the South Island, and headed to our accommodation nearby. Even a couple of hours to relax before a lovely dinner! Tomorrow will be a big day!
Day total – Seen = 51 inc 3 heard, (pheasant, bellbird, yellowhammer); new for the trip = 7; total for the trip to date = 129
|Bye bye North Island|
|Hello South Islands|