Waking up this morning I wasn’t sure if yesterday had all been a dream...but the photos on my laptop proved it hadn’t been! We were up early and another venison pie for breakfast saw the chills kept at bay for a few hours.
We left Stewart Island on the 0800 hrs ferry, hoping for more good seabirds. An early broad-billed prion boosted hopes, but as it turned out this was the best bird of the trip, although good numbers of Buller’s and white-capped albatrosses and sooty shearwaters were also seen. Towards Bluff several white-fronted and black-fronted terns were seen, and along the shore several South Island oystercatchers. We left Bluff and headed northwards towards the Catlins Coast. Our first stop was a short walk through some coastal forest in search for fernbird, but with a stiff breeze still blowing we couldn’t rustle any up. A nice flock of brown creeper, several fantail and grey warbler and tomit were nice sightings though. A little further on we tried another spot, but still no luck, BUT, we were finally rewarded at another spot, with cracking views of a fernbird at little over 1m. Very nice...persistence does pay!
Grabbing some lunch in Owaka we hit a beach and sat watching the waves pumping on the shore as we ate. After lunch a short stroll and we had eight New Zealand sea lions in front of us, mostly small animals, but one fairly large chap. Always nice to see these guys. A little way down the road and our regular little owl spot proved to be fruitful again with nice scope views of the little chap sitting in the sunshine.
Then it was a big drive through to Oamaru where we headed to Bushey Beach for yellow-eyed penguins. As we got to the first lookout spot a penguin was coming ashore, but a little further along the track a pair were preening each other within metres of the track. They were obviously nearly at the end of moult, and were looking really stonking with bright yellow faces. Beautiful birds up close. We watched them for a little while, and then watched the beach for more birds coming ashore, but with a biting wind still blowing we headed off. Spotted and Stewart Island shags were passing by as usual.
We checked into the accommodation where the usual sampling of wines were undertaken, with some fresh Bluff oysters to wash it down...or should that be the other way round?
Bird of the day – yellow-eyed penguin x2, little owl x1
Day total – Seen = 52; new for the trip = 2; total for the trip to date = 89