Saturday, 20 November 2010

Rain and black stilts

A slightly later start this morning saw drizzly rain as we left Oamaru at 0800 hrs.  We have been incredibly lucky with the weather on this trip, so couldn't grumble too much!  We headed northwards and then cut inland towards Omarama, making a quick stop to see a small flock of black-fronted terns feeding over wet fields.  They were quartering the fields, and dipping down to catch earthworms and other invertebrates on the surface.  Really nice views of these little beauties.

Carrying on we grabbed some sandwiches in Omarama and then headed towards Twizel, stopping to get nice scope views of at least five black stilt.  There were several immature birds still showing a fair amount of white on the face, but at least one full adult and another with just a small patch of white.  The last pressure endemic was in the bag, and what a cracking bird it is too.  They really are a stunning bird, and such a shame there are so few.

We then carried on to Lake Poaka, where we searched for more black stilts, but found none.  However, a consolation was several banded dotterel and a sharp-tailed sandpiper.  Perhaps this was the same bird from Miranda that had travelled south to farewell Art?  Certainly a strange site for this species, which is normally found on the coast in NZ.

Heading still further north we visited Mount John where we looked for Chukar in the rain, finally finding a pair which were rather obliging, as well as a pair of falcon nearby.  At least the rain couldn’t dampen our spirits...although it did a little while later as we search for Baillon’s (marsh) crake in the rain, giving up as the rain got heavier.  We’ll give it another go in the morning.  Forecast looks a little dubious for the morning, but we will see what happens.  Staying at the Ahuriri Motels which are very nice!

Black-fronted tern quartering fields in the rain

One of the hydro canals

Juvenile black stilt

The gang looking at wrybill on the breeding grounds

Bird of the day – Black stilt x3, wrybill x2, chukar x1

Day total –
Seen = 42 + 1 heard (grey warbler); new for the trip = 2; total for the trip to date = 161

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