Sunday 24 November 2019

Day thirteen - kea

Out the door, not too early, but not too late.  We headed out for a little scenic look around the area, with a few fur seals, and of course some good looks at European birds…but not the one we wanted.  We had a nice look along the coast, and then decided it was time to head south.  The views of the coast were pretty spectacular as we drove the coast road.  Even spotted a fishing boat washed up and hitting the rocks with a fisherman wearing a lifejacket standing on a rock nearby….hmmm!  That’s not normal!  A quick 111 call, well quick I guess for a Sunday morning as it took the Police a while to answer, and alerted them to the situation.
We carried on south, calling into a small set of ponds on the way.  A few scaup, shoveler, and a pair of Cape Barren geese with a newly fledged gosling.  Nice to see these birds well, as they really are quite stunning.  We then carried on south, making a quick coffee stop, and then calling in to an estuary.  It was pretty darn windy, but the rain was holding off, and so we wandered out to see what we could find.  With reports of a few vagrants in the area we were hopeful we might find something.  A few bar-tailed godwit, pied stilt, Royal spoonbill and banded dotterel showed well.  But no wrybill or black-fronted terns visible which was a bit of a surprise.  We wandered the edge of the estuary keeping a sharp eye, and then spotted a small shorebird.  Thinking it could be the sanderling that has been seen here we got it in the scape.  We then realised when we spotted the sanderling and got some relative size that the first bird was a red-necked stint…in the wind a long way off…ah well.  So that was two new birds for the trip, nothing special, but still nice to see.  We scanned all the terns present, but just white-fronted still.
We scanned out into the distance, but nothing else we could see.  So we started to head back to the van.  Another shorebird flew in that showed really briefly but looked like a golden plover.  It kept flying and disappeared, which was a bummer.  We had lunch back at the van overlooking the estuary, but nothing new.  So afterwards we carried on, this time heading inland.  The wind was still pretty strong, but the warm winds were a lot more pleasant than they could have been!  We stopped at a couple of scenic locations, and everyone (ahem!) was keeping a sharp eye for raptors.  We passed through Arthur’s Pass, making a quick stop and getting great views of a kea, always good to get nice views of these guys.  A walk through the beautiful beech forest here not only examined the botany and mosses, but we had great views of brown creeper (pipipi), both male and female South Island tomtits, both male and female rifleman, awesome views of a yellow-crowned parakeet, and a black and pied New Zealand fantail side by side.  So a really nice afternoon!  The shock was seeing tens of house mice running around on the forest floor, not a good sign for the birds!
We headed on to our accommodation, checked in, and enjoyed the stunning scenery.  We have been really lucky with the weather today…let’s hope it continues!  A beautiful dinner, and then headed out to see if we could hear a kiwi.  We waited for over an hour out in the dark, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be tonight.  Not a sniff from a kiwi.  So, we headed home for a short sleep!

Day total – Seen = 57 inc 4 heard, (Eurasian coot, morepork, South Island robin, dunnock); new for the trip = 7; total for the trip to date = 147
The mighty Waimakariri River

The sun going down on another great day

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