Monday 17 February 2020

Day fourteen - kiwi takes the cake

Well it rained, and rained, and rained.  All night!  It let off a little as we woke and started to get ready for the day, but was still cloudy and pretty damp outside.  So, we had a leisurely breakfast and then got on the road.  Arthur’s Pass was still socked in with weather and the drizzle was still happening.  We checked out a few locations and couldn’t find any kea.  Then at one spot we heard a call, and spotted it spiralling in the misty rain, only to disappear out of view.  We searched for it, but to no avail.
We decided to head on and grab a coffee, and just then spotted two very wet and bedraggled birds beside the road!  We jumped out and they entertained us for a good few minutes.  Lots of pictures taken, even in the rain, and some managed underwing shots as well.
We decided that the rain was not going to clear any time soon, so we headed on.  As we got close to the West Coast, the rain eased.  But it was really humid and warm following the passing of the cyclone.  And there was a lot of moisture in the atmosphere.  We checked out a sewage ponds, lots of waterfowl, but nothing different visible.  We stopped in Hokitika for lunch in a café, did a little shopping, and took our time.
As we continued down the coast all eyes were peeled for falcon.  But only NZ pigeons were spied perched in trees like falcons.  Stunning forest and scenery on the way down the coast, and amazing effects of the landslides and damage to the roads from the storms in late November.  Thankfully the road was open, and we got through to Okarito without any real delays.  We did a little walk, seeing tomtit and South Island robin, and then through to Okarito where we met up with Fiona from Okarito Kiwi Tours.  She gave us a run down on plans for the evening, before we headed off and did a little more birding.  We eventually managed to get great views of a couple of fernbird, so well worth it, before heading to our accommodation in Franz Josef.  A bit of a rest and then amazing dinner at King Tiger in Franz.
We then headed out to meet up with Cassidy from Okarito Kiwi Tours.  We met and went through the plan of attack, some strategies to get us in the right place at the right time, and a few questions and answers.  It was then time to get into place and get started.  We were all in position and well before dark Cassidy let us know that the bird we were hoping to see was already awake and moving around.  A bit later the mosquitoes started to buzz in our ears, but every now and then we could hear a sound from the bird as it moved and fed.  It was gradually getting darker, so we were really focussing.  A bit later Cassidy decided we needed to adjust our position a bit, and so we headed to a slightly different position, and it was definitely a good move.  A bit later we could hear him rustling in the ferns, and then he let rip with about 12 calls right in front of us!  Spine tingling!  We waited and he seemed to be moving right towards us, and then popped out right in front of us.  He quickly walked along the edge of the ferns, literally feet away from us, for all to see, then ducked back in to the ferns.  We waited in case he came out again, and then realised there was another bird somewhere in the ferns just below us also.  Possibly, his four year old son Beau.  He didn’t show, and we decided that we had had such a great interaction, that we should just let him get on with his evening.  What an awesome outcome.  A big thanks to Cassidy and the Okarito Kiwi Tours Team for another great night in the forest!
Day total – Seen = 46 inc 1 heard (morepork); new for the trip = 3; total for the trip to date = 140
Bird of the day – Kea x8 (although this was done before the kiwi evening…I suspect some will change their minds...)
Wakey wake, there's Moa outside!

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