Thursday, 27 October 2011

The big and small of it all

So it was up and off to breakfast at a civilised hour, keeping in mind we had been up till late the night before.  A beaut breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, cereals and toast had us powered up for the day and we headed northwards with the sun shining again.  We took the short walk in to visit Tane Mahuta – the largest of the kauri trees, and possibly around 2000 years old.  Whatever its age it really is a spectacular tree and we even had some lovely Earina orchids flowering and a few Pterostylis (Greenhood) orchids flowering, although almost finished.  A couple of nice male tomtits kicked the days list off to a good start.

We headed southwards back towards Dargaville and then across towards Waipu, stopping on the way to visit a small pond where both Australasian and New Zealand grebes breed.  The Australasian grebes didn’t seem to be breeding yet, but the NZ grebes had at least two chicks and both adults were busy diving with the chicks protected under their wings.  Very cool watching the heads pop out from under the wings to be fed by the adults.

We then headed down into Waipu to grab some lunch and headed to a nearby estuary.  Within seconds we’d spotted a fairy tern roosting on the mudflats right away down the estuary.  We had it in the scope for everyone before it took off whilst we ate our lunch.  We then scoped the rest of the estuary seeing all the usual suspects – bar-tailed godwit, a single red knot, a few turnstone, lots of variable oystercatchers and a good number of New Zealand dotterel.  It was a nice opportunity to spend some time checking out the endemic waders, enjoying the sunshine, and waiting for a fairy tern to appear, and they did.  We spotted two birds roosting further down the estuary, and as we headed towards them they took flight and one ended up hovering over a small pool not far away, before doing the same over the main channel.  The other then did almost the same thing before landing, and we had closer scope views.  Pretty happy with that, they flew off back up the estuary and we decided to head off as well.

We checked out another estuary along the coast, finding a non-breeding little tern and a great egret, along with a heap more white-faced herons, before heading further south to a great spot for buff-banded rails.  We ended up with three in one binocular view, with excellent views of them walking along the shoreline.  A small flock of brown teal was also nice.

Lastly, as if the day hadn’t been good enough, we managed to find two kookaburras perched and had good views of them, before a lovely dinner in the little town of Warkworth.  And the forecast looks good for the pelagic tomorrow...

Bird of the day – Fairy tern 2x, buff-banded rail x4
Day total – Seen = 59 + 3 heard (kaka, shining bronze-cuckoo, bellbird); new for the trip = 17; total for the trip to date = 68

Earina orchid in flower

Closer view of the flowers

In front of Tane Mahuta, I can see there is going to be a lot of posing on this trip!

The big of it...

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