It was a super early start, packing bags into the van in the dark… But as it turns out, it was worth it! We drove a short distance to a wetland area, sneaking in to take a look. There were a lot of waterfowl around, and scanning the edges it looked like our target was not about. But after a few minutes, bingo! Australasian bittern! We got into position, setup the scopes and had awesome views of a bird moving back and forth along a thickly grassed edge, pausing every now and then to catch a small fish. Amazing views of this often incredibly difficult bird, and we were able to watch it for about 25 minutes as it went about its business. Black swan, grey teal, shoveler, mallard, and even a Canada goose or two.
We then checked out another location and found a couple of banded dotterel and at least five black-fronted dotterel. This lovely little shorebird really is quite beautiful, and always nice to find.
Jumping in the van we headed off to a viewpoint with expansive views out over Hawkes Bay. And the best part was we were almost alone at such an early hour. Well except for the incredibly confiding New Zealand pipit that is. Great views of them as well and the shutters were clicking as per usual.
We then made a quick morning tea stop at Brent’s parents place on the way through to Foxton on the west coast of the North Island. Keeping eyes peeled along the way, there was not a lot of birdy interest, but some nice scenery. We got to a large estuary and the tide was pretty high, and almost at its peak. We walk in to an area to watch the shorebirds gathered, with a small flock of bar-tailed godwit and red knot, two Pacific golden plover, and about 25 wrybill in evidence. We really wanted some nice photo opportunities with the wrybill, so waited patiently. The tide peaked, and then started to drop. An errant white-faced heron put up the flock, and we relocated to where the wrybill ended up settling. Waiting a bit longer we eventually had beautiful close views of these great little shorebirds. Super nice images were taken as the shutters clicked away!
We then had a few hours of rest in the afternoon to recuperate after the early morning. And a lovely dinner at a local restaurant. An early night to recharge the batteries!
Day total – Seen = 46 inc 1 heard (Dunnock); new for the trip = 2; total for the trip to date = 112
Bird of the day – Australasian bittern x6, wrybill x2