Thursday, 3 November 2011

I said great knot (not great Scott)!!

We were up at 0540 (yes! 05401!!) and headed out in the rain to try our luck with bittern.  We headed to an area on the southern shore of Lake Taupo, and as we slowly headed down a road I spotted one moving quite quickly for cover.  Unfortunately, due to the rain on the windows it wasn’t possible to see the bird from the back and within seconds it had disappeared never to be seen again.  We did hear at least 3-4 different males booming which was a real treat, but didn’t manage to find one despite checking a bunch of different places.  We were so close to one male booming that you could hear the inhale before the boom which was pretty cool.

We then headed back and packed the vehicle, and headed on to a site to find fernbird.  We had fantastic views of a bird for several minutes as he sat still in the open branches of a bush would you believe it!  We then headed south towards Ruatiti to spend some time looking for blue duck.  Approaching the river it became apparent that the rain we had been having had had an effect on the water levels and the river was higher than it normally is this time of year.  We stopped at every spot you could look down into the river, and not a blue duck to be seen!  Don’t think I’ve ever searched so much of the river for so little effect!  We got to the bridge over the river and managed to spot a duck right up at the end of the river.  Grabbing the scopes we got onto the bird as it fed in the fast flow, before hauling out on a rock for a bit.  A couple of shining-bronze cuckoos were a slight distraction, but when another rain shower came through I was suddenly standing in the rain alone!

We headed down to the Domain for a spot of lunch and then checked the area for more ducks, but not a one to be seen.  We heard a couple of robins from the camping area, and there were whitehead, bellbird, and fantails zipping around the place to keep us occupied.

We then decided to head for Foxton Beach to have a look at the Manawatu Estuary where Sav had found a great knot the previous day.  We drove through the very scenic (and they were caught actually taking photos through the van window as we drove would you believe it!) Parapara’s towards Wanganui, with the odd rain storm coming through.  We arrived at the Manawatu Estuary to find the tide right in and the godwit and knot out on the mudflats gathering in a flock.  It didn’t take long and the great knot was spotted, being pretty obvious with big black spots still present on the breast.  A stunning bird and clearly bigger with a longer drooping bill than the red knots.  Love it when a plan comes together...still no rooks though!  We took some time to check out the wrybill properly as well, as they are pretty approachable here and had great views of them in the scope just a few metres away.

We then decided to head for Feilding to our Motel, where we checked in, had a breather before dinner and then had a dinner in town with Sav and Jody.

Bird of the day – Blue duck x6, shining-bronze cuckoo x1, Australasian bittern x1
Day total – Seen =56 + 4 heard (Australasian bittern, common pheasant, NI robin, whitehead); new for the trip = 2; total for the trip to date = 127

The 'good' were watching the blue duck...

But what is this guy doing?  Is he botanising??!!  This is a BIRDING tour! ;)

The duck that was watched by some...

Great knot (left) with group of red knot

A bit closer

Great knot again

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