Monday, 6 October 2014

New Zealand 27th October,2005 to 5th December, 2005.

Flying over the New Zealand Alps as we approached Christchurch.

The top end of Lake Ellsmere.

Lake Ellsmere

Approaching Akaroa Bay.

Looking Down on Akaroa Bay.

Akaroa Harbour

The evening drive from Akaroa to Flea Bay.

Flea Bay where the White Flippered Penguins gather
during the evening before coming to their nest boxes.

Wildflowers at Flea Bay, Akaroa.

White Flippered Penguin in its nest box at Flea Bay.

White Flippered Penguin.

Variable Oystercatcher in Akaroa Bay.

Variable Oystercatcher

South Island Pied Oystercatcher in Akaroa Bay.

South Island Pied Oystercatcher

Left Akaroa to drive to Lake Brunner and we stopped
en-route at Arthurs Pass.

Road bridge leading up to Arthurs Pass

Braided River near Arthurs Pass.

Stopped at Arthur's Pass and soon located the Kea, or more
accurately they located our car.

Up to 7 Keas were seen at Arthurs Pass, they have a
passion for rubber windscreen wipers.

Lake Brunner

Doreen in our cabin at Lake Brunner.

Weka of the race australis were seen around Lake Brunner.

We had up to 8 Wekas on a day at Lake Brunner.

An early start as we were moving on to Haast today.
En-route we stopped to view the Franz Josef's Glacier

Theres been a lot of melt over the years, but overall it
wasn't to impressive.

We then stopped off at the Fox's Glacier
and found a good viewpoint.

A far more impressive Glacier.

Doreen at the Fox's Glacier viwpoint.

Fox's Glacier, we now moved on towards Haast.

We were now travelling towards Haast for a 2 nights stay
and stopped briefly at Knights Point viewpoint.

Knights Point

After booking into a motel at Haast, we then visited
Jacksons Bay to look for Firodland Crested Penguin,
no success with them, but an enjoyable sea-watch.

Jacksons Bay

Following morning we drove up this road
to Haast Pass.

A beautiful drive up to the Pass and we found a pair
of Yellowheads nest building along the Bridal Track,
near the summit.

Views taken from Haast's Pass

Our third morning, we were moving on to Twizel, but we
again stopped off and walked the Bridal Track on Haast Pass
and again saw the Yellowheads nest building. We also had
a third Yellowhead as we were heading down the other side
of the pass.

Driving to Twizel and looking back at Haast Pass.

The drive to Twizel was very scenic.

We stopped at Lake Wanaka to purchase provisions and birded
around the shore and had a superb view of a New Zealand
Falcon which passed us within 10 metres.

Lake Hawea

Doreen at Lake Hawea

Lake Puka

Two views showing the Mt. Cook range of mountains.

View taken near Twizel.



Four Wrybills were found on their breeding grounds along
the braided Ahuriri river at Omarama.

Black Fronted Tern

We only recorded it in the Twizel area. with up to
50 birds seen in a day.

Black Fronted Tern.

Double Banded Plover along the braided Ahuriri river
at Omarama

Only recorded in the Twizel area with a daily
maximum of 40.

White Headed Stilt
We spent a considerable amount of time looking for Black
Stilts, and although we found several hybrid Stilts, it was on our
last day in the area where the braided river estuary
which enters Lake Pukaki along the Mt. Cook road. Initially we found
6 Black Stilts, but then a further 5 birds flew in and we were then watching
a total of 11 birds made up of 3 adults, 3 sub-adults and 5 Juveniles.

Female Paradise Shelduck with young at Mt. Cook.

Drake Paradise Shelduck at Mt. Cook.

Female Paradise Shelduck at Mt. Cook

Long Drive today leaving Twizel and heading towards
the Fiordland National Park. This view was taken
near Queenstown.

Near Queenstown

We were surprise to come across this steam locomotive
named the Kingston Flyer

It had stopped at a station called Fairlight.

The Kingston Flyer

Our road ran over the Lindis Pass

We stopped briefly but failed to find many birds.

Doreen photographing on the Lindis Pass

We stopped off at Te-Anau with the Fiordland Nat. Park
as a backdrop and booked in for 3 nights.

Grey Fantail

Black Billed Gull at the lake at Te-Anau

Red Billed Gull at Te-Anau

The following morning we drove into the Fiordland
National Park.

Fiordland National Park.

Cliff Face with water running down

We now drove on to the Homer Tunnel, this cliff
face was just before you reached the Tunnel.

At the entrance to Homer Tunnel, you can pull over
and look for the Rock Wren, this shows the site of
the Rock Wren.

Wild mountain flowers found at this site.

One of the star birds of our trip, this male Rock Wren
performed very close to us.

We found it right at the start of the loop trail by the
rock garden.

We saw this male on two days.

It had a habit of standing on a rock and would bob up and down.

Rock Wren near the Homer Tunnel in the Fiordland Nat. Park.

Ten Keas were also seen at the Rock Wren site.

We decided to take a cruise out on Milford Sound and therefore
we had to make an early start to drive through the Fiordland Nat.
Park, and this shows first light in the Park.

Dawn with the sun just rising and catching the Mountain
peaks in the Fiordland Nat.Park.

We crossed over this fast flowing river.

A rapid waterfall in the Fiordland Nat. Park

Finally arriving at Milford Sound shrouded in mist.

Same view after the mist had cleared, just before the cruise
boat left.

Following pictures were taken in Milford Sound
abroad the cruise boat in superb weather.

Waterfall cascading down into the Sound.

Same waterfall taken at different angles.

The Rainbow Waterfall

Further views taken in Milford Sound.

Finally, Milford Sound meets the Tasman Sea.

Doreen enjoying the spectacular scenery in Milford Sound.

Fiordland Crested Penguin seen from the cruise boat in Milford Sound.

The following morning, we were now travelling south towards Invercargill,
for a 2 night stay at Bushy Point with Ian & Jenny and en-route we
passed the Clifden Suspension Bridge.

We also stopped here at McCracken's Rest near Invercargill.

Ian & Jenny's house at Bushy Point, where we stayed for
2 nights. They had turned this area into a private Nature
Reserve for the South Island Fernbird.

These large plants are known by their local name of
Cabbage Plants and were common around Bushy Point.

Tui, coming into drink in the garden at Bushy Point, Invercargil.

Jenny would put out a sweet liquid to attract the Tui's in.

Tui at Bushy Point.

South Island Fernbird at Bushy Point, Invercargil.

The South Island race of is punctatus

We recorded 5 on a day at this special Nature Reserve at Bushy Point.

We only saw 1 of the North Island race vealeae at Lake Taupo.

The main difference between the two races is the tail, being fuller
more rounded on the South Is. race and a spiky tail on the North Is. race.

The North Island Fernbird showed extremely well, several
times it virtually crept over our feet.

South Island Fernbird at Bushy Point.

View of Horshoe Bay, Stewart Island. After leaving Invercargill,
we caught the ferry from Bluff to Stewart Island.

Horseshoe Bay, Stewart Island.

On one beautiful evening, we went out on a charter to Ocean Beach,
to look for Stewart Island Brown Kiwi. We found a male and female
feeding on a beach and was one of my most memorable birding moment
of all time, simply Superb.

Another view of Horseshoe Bay.

Looking across the harbour with Pilgram cottage, left of the church.

View from our balcony.

Standing on our balcony, Pilgram Cottage, on Stewart Island.

Kaka's were coming onto our balcony for food on Stewart Island.

On Stewart Island, Kaka belonged to the race meridionalis

Kaka on Stewart Island.

Male Lesser Redpoll on Stewart Island.

We found that Lesser Redpolls were far commoner on South
Island than North Island.

We decided to visit Ulva Island today and this adult and
immature Spotted Shags (of the race oliveri) were in the small harbour where
the ferry goes from on Stewart Island.

The following are views taken from Ulva Island.

Some fine beaches on Ulva Island.

Another beach on Ulva Island.

On one of the beaches, Doreen came across this Weka.

It took no notice what so ever of Doreen.

Weka belonging to the race scotti.

We saw 12 on one day while on Stewart Island.

Weka on Ulva Island.

Brown Creeper (aka. Pipipi) on Ulva Island.

We saw 10 Brown Creepers on both days we visited Ulva Island.

Small umbers of Kaka of the race meridionalis were seen
on Ulva Island.

Five South Island New Zealand Robin of the race rakiura
were seen on Ulva Island with more on Stewart Island.

Tomtit belonging to the race macrocephala on Ulva Island.

We saw 5 Tomtits on Ulva Island.

A very poor record shot of a Yellowhead. We saw 2 with others
heard on Ulva Island. We also saw them near the summit on the
Bridal Track at Haast Pass, and they were carrying nest material.

On the journey to Kaikoura, we stopped at Palmerston
and visited Shag Rock with the hope to photograph some Shags.

As an added bonus we found several Fur Seals on the rocks.

Pair of Fur Seals at Shag Rock, Palmerston.

Stewart Island Shags with Red Billed Gulls in the background
on Shag Rock, Palmerston.

We recorded 40 Stewart Island Shags on Shag Rock.

As well as the normal colour phase of the Stewart Island Shag
there were also a number of the bronze colour phase.

Stewart Island Shag in flight.

Both colour phases of the Stewart Island Shag at Shag Rock.

We recorded 100 Spotted Shags off Shag Rock, Palmerston
but the majority were out to sea.

On our way to Kaikoura we stopped off at Gore Bay to the
Cathedral Cliff. We stayed overnight with Chris Shaw at Kaikoura.

We were booked on to back to back pelagics off Kaikoura,
we were booked on to the first pelagics and had a superb
sunrise over Kaikoura Bay.

Same view as before, but the sunrise soon ended and the snow clad mountains
behind Kaikoura were spectacular, as they were still in the early morning glow.

Sea-birds were soon being seen from both pelagics off Kaikoura.

Giant Petrels and various Albatrosses were present.

Wandering Albatross probably of the race elans was seen
with other Albatrosses.

Buller's Shearwater on the pelagics off Kaikoura.

Just 5 Buller's Shearwaters were seen on the two pelagics.

We did see more Buller's Shearwaters with 40 on a
sea-watch from Cape Rodney.

Buller's Shearwater off Kaikoura.

Cape Petrels off Kaikoura.

Fifty Cape Petrels were seen on the two pelagics off Kaikoura.

Cape Petrels were also seen when crossing the Foveaux
Strait and on the Sandspit pelagic.

Grey Faced Petrels on the pelagics off Kaikoura.

We saw 6 Grey Faced Petrels on these two pelagics.

Grey Faced Petrel off Kaikoura.

Short Tailed Shearwater seen on the two pelagics off Kaikoura.

In total we just saw 8 Short Tailed Shearwaters all were
seen on the two pelagics off Kaikoura.

Short Tailed Shearwater off Kaikoura.

Two Northern Giant Petrels fighting over the chum
on the pelagics off Kaikoura.

Northern Giant Petrel

We recorded 13 Northern Giant Petrels on the 2
pelagics off Kaikoura.

Northern & Southern Giant Petrels squabbling.

Southern Giant Petrel, we saw 3 on the two pelagics off Kaikoura.

Salvin's Albatrosses on the pelagics off Kaikoura.

We recorded a total of 30 Salvins on these two pelagics.

We also saw Salvin's on the Stewart Island and Cook's
Strait ferry crossings.

Southern (front) and Northern (back) Royal Albatrosses.
The Northern has virtually wholly black wings whereas
the Southern has much mottling white on the wings.

Northern Royal Albatross on the pelagic off Kaikoura.

Only 3 Northern Royals were seen on both of the pelagics.

Southern Royal Albatross seen off Kaikoura.

Just 3 Southern Royal Albatrosses were seen on the pelagics
off Kaikoura.

Antipodian Wandering Albatross seen on the two pelagics
which we did off Kaikoura.

Note the brown smudge on the head and neck sides
of Antipodian Wandering Albatross.

We only saw a couple of different birds on the pelagics.

This one was with a Salvins Albatross in the background
and a Northern Giant Petrel in the foreground.

They gave excellent views sat behind the boat.

Gibson's Wandering Albatrosses on the Kaikoura pelagics.
Kelp Gull & Cape Petrel in the background.

Gibson's Wandering Albatross with the snow top
Kaikoura mountains in the background.

Upto 30 Gibson's were seen on our two pelagics off Kaikoura.

They gave exceptional views sat behind our boat.

Some almost to close for comfort.

A Wandering glides past our pelagic with the
Kaikoura Mountains in the background.

Three species of Albatross, with a Wandering in the centre,
Southern Royal on the left and Northern Royal on the right
seen on the first Kaikoura pelagic trip.

Westland Black Petrels with a Shy Albatross off Kaikoura.

We saw 100 on the two pelagics off Kaikoura.

We also saw 5 Westland Black Petrels close to the shore
in Jackson Bay.

White Chinned Petrel on the Kaikoura trips.

In total we saw 5 White Chinned Petrels on these trips.

On our way to Picton we came across this pair of
California Quails.

During our trip we did see California Quails on 8 dates.

We decided to take a cruise out from Picton into the Queen Charlotte
Sound to look for the rarest Shag in the world the King Shag.
Just leaving the quay with Picton in the background.

This fine sailing ship was present in the Sound.

Some general views taken from the pleasure cruiser in
the Queen Charlotte Sound.

A delightful school of around 20 Dusky Dolphins
came around our pleasure cruiser in the Queen Charlotte Sound.

They put on a fine display for about 20 minutes.

Some Dusky Dolphins came very close indeed.

We decided to take a cruise out from Picton into the Queen
Charlotte Sound to see the King Shag on its breeding cliffs.

King Shag is the rarest Shag in the world with a total
estimated population of just 600 birds.

We visited this breeding stack with at least 20 birds present.

The Pleasure boat was able to closely approach the breeding cliffs.

A small number of King Shags were also seen in flight in
the Queen Charlotte Sound.

Fluttering Shearwaters were seen on our cruise in
the Queen Charlottte Sound off Picton.

In total we recorded 100 in the Queen Charlotte Sound.

We also saw 300 Fluttering Shearwaters on the ferry
crossing the Cook's Strait.

Entering the Cooks Strait after leaving Picton on the South
Island on the ferry on our way to Wellington on the North Island.

Approaching Wellington on the North Island after
leaving Picton on the South Island.

Brown Teal in the Wellington Sanctuary Reserve.

Pair of Brown Teal in the Wellington Sanctuary Reserve.

We left Wellington in the early morning to drive to the ferry
for Kapiti Island. Looking from Paraparaumu Beach to
Kapiti Island, where we were going to stay 2 nights.

Arriving on Kapiti Island and looking back to the Mainland.

Looking north along the beach on Kapiti Island.

The lodge area on Kapiti. On both our nights we went out
looking for Lesser Spotted Kiwis with 2 seen and 3 heard on
our first night and 1 seen and 3 heard on our second night.

Our cabin on Kapiti Island.

Adult Takahe on Kapiti Island.

We saw 5 different Takahes on Kapiti Island during our 2 night stay.

When we visited, the World population was only 220 birds,
although it is slowly increasing.

We saw 16 Weka's (of the race asutralis) on a day on Kapiti.

White Headed Stilts were breeding in small numbers
on Kapiti Island.

They were common throughout New Zealand at suitable locations
with a daily maximum of 150 on the Mangere Lagoon near Auckland Airport.

Thirty Whiteheads were seen on Kapiti Island.

We also recorded 20 Whiteheads on Tiritiri Mantangi Island.

We visited the Royal Spoonbill breeding colony with 29 pairs
along the beach on Kapiti Island.

We also recorded 35 at Lake Ellsmere.

Also saw singles at several other sites.

An adult Nankeen Night Heron was summering on Kapiti
island at the Royal Spoonbill colony.

Nankeen Night Heron on Kapiti Island.

New Zealand (Australasian) Pipit on Kapiti Island.

Although still lumped with Australasian Pipit, the New Zealand
Pipit is very distinct in plumage.

We only saw 2 New Zealand Pipits on Kapiti and in total
we only recorded 10 at four sites during our trip.

New Zealand Pipit on Kapiti Island.

New Zealand Pigeon on Kapiti Island.

We logged 30 on both of our days on Kapiti Island.

Although widespread they were generally only seen
in small numbers in New Zealand.

New Zealand Pigeon on Kapiti Island.

Kelp Gull on Kapiti Island where a breeding estimate of
1,000 pairs on the Island.

The river valley at Ruatiti, home to the Blue Duck.

Foxgloves growing along the road-side in the Ruatiti Valley.

Australian Harrier flushed by the road-side on our way to Ruatiti.

A friendly local told us of a good site to see Blue Duck.

We quickly visited the picnic site at Ruatiti Domaine and
found this single Blue Duck in the river.

It obligingly walked up onto a large rock and we were both
able to approach it closely.

The previous day we had found a family party of 4
Blue Ducks on the river but we had to look down on
them from a long distance.

Blue Duck on the river at Ruatiti Domaine.

Tongariro National Park

The volcanao in the Tongariro National Park which we
drove past, on our way to Miranda.

Flowers in the Tongariro National Park

Wrybill at Miranda on North Island.

We had 80 Wrybills on our second day at Miranda.

As the tide was coming in, they came into a stream which
was entering the sea to bathe.

We also found 4 Wrybills on their breeding grounds earlier
in the trip at the Ahuriri River, at Omarama on South Island.

On our last day, we found 2 on the lagoons at Mangere.

The World population of Wrybill has been estimated at
only 5,000 birds.

Buff Banded Rail at Miranda.

White Fronted Terns at Miranda.
Arriving at Tiritiri Mantanga Island quay.

Looking from Tiritiri back towards North Island.

Looking down at the rocky coastline on Tiritiri.

View of the Lighthouse on Tiritiri.
Another view of the rocky shoreline on Tiritiri.

The bunkhouse on Tiritiri.

North Island New Zealand Robin of the race longipies
were seen on Tiritiri Mantanga Island.

We recorded 4 on a day on the island.

North Island New Zealand Robin.

Two Welcome Swallows sat by the pool on Tiritiri.

We saw 15 Saddlebacks on both days on Tiritiri Mantanga Island.

They were of the North Island race rufusater, and we also recorded
them in the Wellington Sanctuary, Kapiti Island and also from the pelagic
boat on Little Barrier Island.

The South Island race carunculates with 6 on Ulva Island.

Female Stitchbird on Tiritiri.

Male Stitchbird on Tiritiri. We recorded 7 on a day.

Four Stitchbirds were also seen in the Wellington Santuary,
but only one on Kapiti Island.

Kokako on Tiritiri Mantanga Island.

Doreen also saw one on Kapiti Island, so I was relieved
to see them on Tiritiri.

We just had 3 on Tiritiri, including this bird which gave superb views
running on one of the tracks. Others were heard calling a beautiful
haunting call.

Purple Swamphens were common throughout New Zealand.

Takahe on Tiritiri Mantanga Island.

We just saw 2 on both days on Tiritiri.

Upto 15 Red Crowned Parakeets were seen on Tiritiri.

Spotless Crake with 1 young, a pair were breeding at the
back of the pool on Tiritiri

We had 2 Brown Teals on the small pool on Tiritiri.

We only saw Brown Quail on Tititiri.

We had 8 on our first day and 15 on our second day.

Bellbird was common on Tiritiri

It was also seen throughout New Zealand.

The Tiritiri Mantanga Island Ferry

Our final view of Tiritiri Mantanga Island as we pulled away on the ferry.

White Fronted Terns were found resting on a beach at Cape Rodney.

Good numbers were recorded at various locations.

We also saw 100 at Miranda.

White Fronted Tern at Cape Rodney.

We travelled to the northern end of North Island, this
shows the Bay of Islands.

We stayed at Kerikeri for 1 night, and went out with Detlaf Davies
and had a superb view of the North Island Kiwi.
This picture shows the historic Stonehouse at Kerikeri.

On the journey north we stopped of at Waipu Cove to see
the New Zealand race of Fairy Tern.

Twelve New Zealand Dotterels were found at Waipu Cove.

There was also several pairs breeding in the sand dunes
at Omaha Beach.

New Zealand Dotterel

Variable Oystercatcher at Waipu Cove , they were common
around the beaches.

Three colour phases of the Variable Oystercatcher, and I found
the black colour phase to be the commonest.

Helena Bay
Looking from the view point to Helena Bay.

River with Brown Teal at Helena Bay.

Fifty Brown Teals were seen along this river.

A female Brown Teal with 3 young on the river.

A pair of Brown Teals on the river.

Pied Cormorant on the causeway towards Omaha Beach.

Eastern race bauer of Bar-tailed Godwit, 70 were seen on
Omaha Beach.

In flight, they show a more speckled rump.

Eastern race of the Bar Tailed Godwit.

Bottlebrush plants were found in Shakespeare Regional Park.

Peacock displaying in Shakespeare Regional Park.

We visited Muriwai Beach to view the Gannet colony.

In this area, the beach is of black sand.

Australian Gannet colony at Muriwai beach.

Australian Gannet.

Heading out towards the Mokohinau Islands on the Leigh pelagic.

Arriving at the Mokohinau Islands.

The landing stage at the Mokohinau Islands.

The Grey Ternlet Stack, unfortunately no Grey Ternlets.

Singles Buller's Albatrosses were seen from the Sandspit pelagic
and from the Stewart Island Ferry.

New Zealand birders assigned the Sandspit Buller's Albatross
to the Pacific race platie due to its darker grey head.

Buller's Shearwaters were recorded on a number of dates
in New Zealand.

We recorded at least 70 Buller's Shearwaters on the pelagic out of Leigh.

Buller's Shearwater

In the rough weather we had on the pelagic off Stanspit,
a minimum of 800 Cooks Petrels were seen, many passing
very close to the vessel.

We also saw 100 on the Leigh pelagic.

It was very educational to compare Cooks with Pycrofts
and several were seen close to one another.

Cooks Petrels

Fairy Prions feeding and seen from the pelagic off Leigh.

Up to 200 were seen on this pelagic, coming close to the
vessel after chum. They would often dive below the surface
of the sea.

We also saw 30 on the pelagic off Leigh.

They proved difficult to photograph due to the sea colouration.

Flesh Footed Shearwater on the pelagic off Sandspit.

In total we saw 200 on the pelagic off Sandspit &
30 on the pelagic off Leigh.

Flesh Footed Shearwater.

Parkinson's Black Petrel, 20 were seen on the pelagic off Sandspit.

Parkinson's Black Petrel just breeds on two islands and the
breeding population has been estimated at just 5,000 birds.

Parkinsons can be i/d from White Chinned by its all white bill.

Parkinson's Black Petrel.

One of our most sought after sea-birds was Pycroft Petrel.

In very rough conditions we recorded at least 3 and possibly
upto 10 Pycrofts on the Sandspit pelagic as we went very close
to their breeding islands.

We also saw 3 Pycrofts on the pelagic off Leigh.

Pycrofts are difficult to i/d from Cooks Petrels .

Pycroft Petrel

This petrel is either a Cooks or a Pycrofts. It had a darker cap
with more blackish on the underwing which would suggest
another Pycroft.

White Faced Storm Petrels on the pelagic off Leigh.

White Faced Storm Petrels were not only one of the highlights
of the pelagic but also of the New Zealand trip.

In total we saw 80+ on the pelagic off Leigh and 40
on the pelagic off Sandspit.

White Faced Storm Petrels.

Another sought after sea-bird on the pelagics was the
New Zeland Storm Petrel.

After much searching, in the early evening just a single
Petrel was located and it flew around our boat on just two occasions.

It was seen off the Sandspit pelagic.

New Zealand Storm Petrel was only re-discovered
a few years earlier.

Doreen on the pelagic boat off the Mokohinau Islands.

White Faced Heron near the Mangere Lagoon. Good numbers were
seen throughout our trip.

Our last Kiwi as we were about to leave from Auckland airport.

Sunset over Flea Bay Akaroa, with the
White FlipperedPenguins.

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