Thursday 20 February 2020

Day seventeen - the last kiwi

Up and away and off towards Bluff.  The light and scenery was beautiful as we headed east and then down towards Bluff Ferry Terminal.  We made a quick stop in Winton on the way, and then through to an estuary stop near Invercargill.  The light made things tough, it was actually shining in Invercargill, so we shouldn’t complain.  But it made the birds tough to scan.  We found a good selection of waterfowl, and there were also godwit, oystercatchers, a lot of Royal spoonbill scattered over the mud flats.  A nice chance to stretch the legs before getting to the ferry terminal.
We unloaded bags, set them ready for the ferry, and boarded around 1100.  The weather was pretty nice, too nice for seabirds apparently!  On the crossing we had a couple of white-capped albatross, maybe 30 sooty shearwaters, and then towards Stewart Island we had three fairy prions.  Nice to finally pick that one up!  We also had two fly over brown skua during the trip, which was interesting, and a bunch of Foveaux shags on a rock as we got close to Halfmoon, with another skua.  A single penguin that had to be a yellow-eyed was spotted in the water and then three Fiordland crested penguins on the shore near the wharf.  Nice one!
We arrived, grabbed bags and then checked in to the accommodation.  We had lunch and then jumped on our water taxi to head to Ulva.  But our skipper Chris had other plans and forced us to enjoy awesome close views of Fiordland crested penguins on the way!  Thanks Chris!  Beaut views of these guys as they neared the finish of their moult.
On Ulva we started with some awesome views of yellowhead, then parakeets – both yellow-crowned and red-crowned seemed super abundant today.  We heard rifleman in a few places, and saddleback, but nothing close.  We carried on, hoping for a kaka, as we needed to get some good looks.  Lots of weka around and robin of course.  We had awesome close encounters with a friendly weka on a beach, and then back in to the forest.  And finally got our kaka, a nice close pair of birds that showed relatively well.  More parakeets, more robins, more yellowhead.  We also got some nice close brown creeper, a noisy little youngster amongst them.
We checked out another beach, but no sea lions, although we did find a small group of white-fronted terns feeding just offshore, with at least five penguins below them.  Nice one!  We got some views of rifleman, and then a brief glimpse of a saddleback, and then it was time to head to the wharf for our pick up.
We headed back to Oban, a nice white-capped albatross on the way…more of them to come!  A rest, a beer and then dinner.  We wandered out to look for long-tailed bats, but the odd spot of rain and cooler conditions seemed to keep them away.  A tantalising glimpse was all that was had.  But we headed out for kiwi with our good friend Matt, and although a few spots of rain we had beautiful views of three kiwi and a very small chick.  All busily feeding out for all to see.  Incredible views of this enigmatic endemic, topping of our very successful run of four kiwi on the tour!  Everyone slept well dreaming of chubby happy kiwi!
Day total – Seen = 58 inc 3 heard (morepork, tomtit and dunnock); new for the trip = 5; total for the trip to date = 147
Heading to Ulva

Livar and the weka

Photo photo

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