Thursday, 14 April 2011

A long day (but a damn good one!)

Up bright and early again, with a cool touch to the air.  We grabbed some lunch and then headed for the shores of Lake Taupo.  We made a couple of stops seeing various waterfowl, including black swan, NZ scaup, paradise shelduck, etc.  As we were driving to another spot I managed to spot an Australasian bittern standing right on the edge of some raupo reeds, merely 40m off the road.  Jamming on the brakes we had great views of it in the morning light, and Doug was able to get some cracking photos.  A real bonus for the morning, before then getting nice views of fernbird in some small bushes within the reedbed.  There were at least three birds around, with good views of two, including flight views.

We then headed back towards Pureora where I hoped we could track down a kaka for better views.  We again headed to several sites, hearing several kaka at the one place, but not getting them in view.  We did however hear the haunting call of a kokako.  It sounded like it was high in the rimu trees, but it was just a bit too far into the forest and we couldn’t get our eyes onto it.  Nevermind, very nice to hear them in the really primeval forest.

We checked out where we had seen the falcon yesterday, but didn’t see it, but did manage to see a pipit, and had great views of it perched beside the road.

Then it was on for the big drive northwards.  We made a couple of short stops along the way, but our goal was to reach Dargaville in time to grab something for dinner before heading on towards Trounson for our kiwi walk.  We didn’t see a lot of birds along the way, but did add some rather wary peafowl to the list.

We headed out with Herb at Trounson Kauri Park, having already glimpsed a morepork in the carpark.  There was a lot of morepork calling going on, and it wasn’t long and our first male kiwi called a wee way off.  We started the walk and it was quiet...deathly quiet, as far as kiwi were concerned.  No stomping, no snuffling...nothing!  We did here a couple of other calls, but all a wee way off.  We did however get great views of long-finned eel, banded kokupu, freshwater crayfish, cave weta and some cool spiders.  Back at the carpark we decided to give it another go, so around we went again.  This time we heard a bird in the bushes, probably only about 30-40m away, but it headed in the wrong direction and we lost contact with it.  Near the carpark we had awesome views of a morepork, down to about 1.5m!  They are stunning little birds up close and Doug got some great shots.  Suckers for punishment, we decided to do part of the trail again, and then that would be it.  We arrived at the point at which we had decided to turn around, and were just deciding to head back, when a female kiwi called across on the other side of the loop of the trail about 300m away.  Then the male called much closer to us.  I figured the best bet was to try and get over by the female and hopefully the male would end up over that way...or that was the plan.  We got to the other side of the loop where I reckoned the bird had called from, and we almost immediately heard a bird coming down the hill beside us.  At that point almost the worst possible thing happened – I got a view of it but the others didn’t!  However, after a lot of patience, waiting in the dark quietly for probably 30 minutes or more we ended up with stunning views of what was possibly two one stage as the rustling and snuffling got closer I thought my heart was going to burst out of my mouth.  It was a pretty nerve wracking experience, but persistence paid off, and after great views we left the birds in peace.  To be honest I think they just held out so the first bird (and new bird) Doug saw on his 50th Birthday was a Northern brown kiwi!  Pretty cool!

Bird of the day
Day total – Seen = 73 + 3H (kaka, whitehead, NI kokako); new for the trip = 11; total for the trip to date = 73

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