Sunday, 13 November 2011


So up and packed and off to the 0800 ferry where we had to farewell the beautiful Stewart Island.  It was another lovely sunny day with almost no wind today, and the sea looked flat calm..and it almost was!  Very smooth conditions and it really didn’t bode well for a good crossing birdwise.  We had a couple of little blue penguins as we left Halfmoon Bay and of course some Stewart Island shags, before getting out towards the Muttonbird Islands.  A few sooty shearwaters drifted past, and some good views of common diving petrels.  In great contrast to the day before we had one Salvin’s and one white-capped albatross and a Northern giant petrel crossed our wake, but she was looking pretty quiet...until I spotted a small black bird flying towards and with us.  All dark, white rump, low to the water, WILSON’S STORM-PETREL!  The call went up (sounding a little like something from Castaway, the other passengers must have though me mad, but what's new!) and everyone ran to the port side to get a look as it flew with the ferry for probably more than a minute going in the same direction as us!  Fantastic, a cracking little bird and really good views.

The birds pretty much thinned out after that with just a couple of white-chinned petrels, before getting in to Bluff.  We grabbed our gear, reloaded the bus and then checked out Stirling Point and some of the tern flocks, but nothing different spotted amongst them.  So we headed north, up through the very scenic Catlins.  We stopped at a couple of places to take photos, before grabbing some lunch and then heading to a beach to check out some New Zealand sealions.

Way down the beach we could see a few people near a sealion, so we started to head down there, realising part way down there was actually another animal tucked right up against the hightide mark that everyone else had missed and walked straight past.  So we spent some time admiring this big boy, still a sub-adult though.  He seemed pretty happy dozing and flicking sand over himself.

We left him in peace and then headed off further northwards, with the aim of getting to Oamaru late afternoon, which we did.  We headed straight for a beach to see yellow-eyed penguins coming ashore, and although after an hour or so we hadn’t seen any come ashore we had heard them and had scope views of a bird only 20m or so away.  So fantastic views of this very rare penguin.

We then checked in to our accommodation, had dinner, caught up on the checklist and off to bed!

Bird of the day – Yellow-eyed penguin x7
Day total – Seen = 56; new for the trip = 1; total for the trip to date = 162 (163 inc bittern)

Fat and happy...young New Zealand sealion

Yellow-eyed penguin up close

Having a stretch

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