Saturday 22 February 2020

Day nineteen - shagadelic

We all headed to the ferry terminal early, boarding and enjoying the sunshine as we cruised out of Halfmoon Bay.  Not too far out we had a glimpse of Fiordland crested penguin, and then the first sooty shearwaters as we got into open water.  We only had a few white-capped albatross on the crossing, and nothing like the day before.  A few Foveaux shags, a couple of common diving petrels, and then two Cook’s petrels.  As we got close to Bluff a couple of Buller’s albatross made passes.
WE docked in Bluff, grabbed bags, repacked the van and off we headed.  A couple of quick stops yielded a lot of waterfowl, but no chestnut-breasted shelducks.  Oh well!  Coffee, fuel and onwards, we needed to put a few kilometres behind us, today is a big travel day.  We grabbed some lunch late morning, and then ate it at a bay, overlooking the shoreline.  Hoping for an ever more elusive penguin.  And bingo – contrary to the advice of a very ‘helpful’ tourist – there was a penguin coming ashore in the middle of the day.  It came ashore and stood there preening for about fifteen minutes, giving us all a great view, before it decided to head on up the beach and into the shrubbery.  What a great bird!
We decided that was about as good as it got, and slowly made our way north towards Dunedin, then a quick café stop on the coast, before cruising to a spot to see Otago shag.  We had awesome views of the late-breeding stage of this bird, with large almost fledged juveniles.  There were a few spotted shags around as well, and some nice close white-fronted terns also.  Lots of things going on to take photos of, so we spent a bit of time just enjoying the spectacle.  Not a bad day with six species of shags in one day!
We headed on, checked in to the accommodation, and then a great dinner in town.  An early night, for tomorrow is the big day…
Day total – Seen = 51 inc 1 heard (dunnock); new for the trip = 1; total for the trip to date = 153
Bird of the day – Yellow-eyed penguin x8
Star of the day...

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