7th-9th Sept. 11.10hrs flight Belfast - Heathrow; 16.25hrs flight Heathrow - LA 19.45hrs local time, c20ºC but dark so no birds; 1.5hrs in transit lounge then 21.30hrs LA - Auckland arriving 04.30hrs 9th Sept. c11ºC. 06.50hrs flight Auckland to Christchurch. Fantastic views during flights especially over west coast of Greenland, then of volcanoes at southern end of North Island, Southern Alps and Kaikoura Range.
9th Sept. c11ºC, 0/8 - 8/8, calm inc. SE3, some showers pm. Picked up hire car from Christchurch airport and headed north to Kaikoura, c2hrs adding numerous common native and introduced species on the way the most unexpected of which were three Cape Barren geese in a roadside field near Cheviot. Arrived at "Albatross Encounters" and checked in having pre-booked a trip via the internet. No other takers so paid $120NZ for solo trip. Found good accommodation at the "Topspot" backpackers $17 for empty bunkroom. Headed out on first pelagic with Mick the skipper c13.30hrs. The next 2.5hrs were a staggering attack on the senses starting with a wealth of albatrosses and other seabirds around a fishing boat, we then headed offshore and put out chum which amongst the species we'd seen at the first boat also attracted a grey-faced and grey petrel, the latter rather late in the season. Returning a little too quickly we'd seen seven albatross forms, both giant petrels, grey, grey-faced, Cape and Westland petrels, Hutton's shearwater and fairy prion not to mention the various shags and terns, it was fantastic. My batteries were partially recharged and I managed an hour's sea watching from the hill above the peninsula car park where I had much better views of the Hutton's and a common diving petrel. It was 17.30hrs, I'd been awake in excess of 48hrs and my brain couldn't handle any further birding delights so I collapsed into my bed. Bird of the day: collectively all of the albatrosses and petrels.
10th Sept. <10ºC, 7/8, SE2-3, dry. 07.10-09.30hrs sea watch from Kaikoura peninsula. Added sacred kingfisher and Australasian gannet to the list and had distant, though identifiable, views of wandering and n.royal albatross, Salvin's and white-capped mollymawk, giant petrel spp. and Westland petrels. Views of the tens of thousands of Hutton's shearwaters were superb, they were like midges on a tundra pool! NZ fur seals lounged on the rocks and I soon realised that by following the whale-watching boats for a while in the scope I could have decent views of sperm whales, I saw 2 logging and then diving, raising their flukes as they did so. Left Kaikoura c10.30hrs heading to Dunedin, reached Christchurch in 2hrs and decided to nip out to Akaroa to see Hector's Dolphins. Unfortunately, this was no nipping out kind of a place, it's 70km from Christchurch! I arrived and found that the dolphins could only be seen from trip boats and that the last had already returned.
I left c15.00hrs and arrived at Dunedin airport, note that this is 23km outside of Dunedin, c21.00hrs having added a few species, most notably grey warbler, which showed the most stunningly instantaneous reaction to pishing I've ever witnessed! and bellbird. Eventually, caught a taxi from the deserted airport back to my accommodation in NE Valley. Bird of the day: sperm whale (and seabirds!)
11th Sept. c2ºC am warming later in bright sunshine, 0/8, still, dry. Spent most of day around university and Dunedin preparing equipment and making arrangements for fieldwork. A dead Snares crested penguin was delivered to the zoology dept. having been found on Papanui beach, Otago Peninsula, the weekend before; my first close contact with a penguin since childhood trips to Edinburgh Zoo. Eventually set off to Boulder Beach mid pm, home for the next four weeks. Saw my first yellow-eyed penguins coming in from the sea late in the afternoon and was surprised at how big they were. Bird of the day: yellow-eyed penguin.
12th Sept. cold at night, 2ºC, but very warm in sunshine throughout day 20ºC, 1/8, still, dry. Early morning walk postponed as news came through on the radio of events in New York. Got used to common species around the site, mostly European introductions plus a few natives, harriers were almost constantly overhead, variable oystercatchers breeding on the beach, grey warblers and silvereyes in the bushes plus shelducks, masked lapwings and the two common gull species. An immature male Hooker's sealion hauled out on the beach and a single dusky dolphin meandered through the bay. Bird of the day: the two mammal species.
13th Sept. very similar to yesterday with 1-25ºC, 0/8, still, dry. Spent day in study site. No new species, the dawn chorus is amazing-it's just like parts of England with yellowhammers, song thrush, blackbird, skylark etc. All of the variable oystercatchers are colour-ringed and black phase, male harrier skydancing very similar to marsh harrier. The Hooker's sealion again spent the day lounging on the beach. Bird of the day: y-e. penguin.
14th Sept. relatively mild but becoming cold out of sun in the increasing wind, 3/8, NE3 inc.5-6 pm, dry. Sea watch from beach 07.00 - 08.00hrs produced an A.gannet, 2 giant petrels, 2-3 distant large albatrosses, a sooty shearwater and c10 Salvin's/white-capped mollymawks as well as my first Stewart Island shags which were then seen almost daily commuting past the beach. Another sea watch pm produced a similar variety plus an unexpected Hutton's shearwater and a close n.royal albatross which was also bird of the day.
15th Sept. a mild night at c6ºC and a cool day, 3/8, NE4 dec., dry. Early morning sea watching found c400 prions off the beach, almost certainly fairy, they were too distant to see details to allow specific identification though the closest seemed rather plain faced. A small manx-like shearwater spent c2mins close to the beach appearing very white below with only off-white axillaries suggested Fluttering shearwater, it seemed more dainty and less heavy than yesterday's Hutton's; a cape petrel flew north.
First lesser redpolls of the trip found around grassland and scattered NZ flax bushes near Double Bay. Birds of the day were the prions, which moved offshore and out of sight by 08.00hrs.
16th Sept. hot, 1/8, NE1, dry. A couple of unidentified giant petrels drifted past the beach as they often did in calm conditions. After work I headed off on a hike to Portobello, a small town on the harbour side of the peninsula. I hitched a lift the last few kms and by chance got a lift with a member of DOC's kakapo team. Stayed in the very comfortable McFarmer's backpackers for $17, ate a good meal out at the "1908 Café" and had my first beer since leaving home!
17th Sept. warm, 7/8 - 8/8, still early am becoming SW7-8 with heavy rain from c15.30hrs. An early morning walk around Portobello produced both oystercatchers though disappointingly no other waders on the exposed mudflats; my first fantail, 2 bellbirds and a flock of 70 silvereyes. After breakfast I hitched to Taiaroa Head where I discovered that this was the first day of the year when the albatross viewing tour is closed due to worries of disturbance to returning birds. I moved to the cliff top viewing area where there is a large colony of spotted shags and a few Stewart Is. shags. Almost immediately a n.royal albatross took off from the headland and zoomed past out to sea. By now the wind was a westerly 4 and seabirds were becoming increasingly active. N.royals appeared over the sea and as the wind speed increased to 7 or 8 large numbers of mollymawks and several petrels passed the headland. Over the next 1.5hrs I had some of the best sea-watching I've ever experienced with c8 n.royals, 1 southern royal, 3 white-capped, 2 Salvins and c10 unidentified "cauta" mollymawks plus c50 Buller's mollymawks, 10 Cape petrels, a Westland, 1 sooty and 1 Hutton's. Unfortunately, I had to pack in as the centre was closing and I couldn't afford to miss the last lift back along the peninsula. I was absolutely soaked to the skin by the time I reached Boulder Beach 2hrs and 2 lifts later but had had a fantastic day. Bird of the day: the Buller's mollymawks.
18th Sept. c20ºC, 2/8, still, becoming 8/8, SW5 pm. Spent day around the beach and then walked up the Paradise Track to Highcliff Road late pm. Several species were common here that were not regularly seen at the beach, bellbirds were particularly numerous and a pair of masked lapwings were defending two very young chicks.
19th Sept. c25ºC, 3/8, W2-3. Finished fieldwork early so set off on walk to Hooper's Inlet via Paradise Track 2hrs each way. Found a tui in a garden on Highcliff Rd., my first. At Hooper's Inlet discovered that there was no access to the marshes at the seaward end, where all of the birds seemed to be. There were a number of pied stilts about plus a few w.f.herons but the best was a close flock of 24 grey teal. It was a beautiful evening with hawthorn just coming into leaf and primroses in bloom, springtime in September seems strange. Bird of the day: Tui.
20th Sept. 24ºC, 2/8, mostly still, dry. Following fieldwork I walked via the Paradise Track to McAndrews Bay on the harbour side of the peninsula. Had seen a black phase fantail earlier at the beach hut and a single dusky dolphin offshore.
A small area of semi-native bush on the north side of the track looked interesting and had a few fantails, bellbirds and a kingfisher but nothing more. Bird of the day: the dusky dolphin.
21st Sept. some heavy overnight rain and very strong NW winds followed by showers at dawn W4 then drier, SW4 later. Early morning sea-watch followed by fieldwork and then midday sea-watch. Best was a n.royal albatross following a boat and 11 Cape petrels plus several distant "cauta" mollymawks. Saw a pair of y-e penguins allopreening at a nest site. Bird of the day: n.royal albatross.
22nd Sept. strong wind and heavy rain overnight, still raining at dawn stopped c08.30hrs. SW 7-8 all day, cold, dry with squally offshore showers. Whilst checking nest sites a.m. a superb white morph southern giant petrel cruised close past Highcliff stimulating a midday sea-watched which produced a close s.royal albatross and 27 Cape petrels. Three of us then drove up to Taiaroa Head for a 2hr sea-watch which produced c8 n.royal albatrosses, c15 Buller's, 4 Salvin's, 2 white-capped, c30 unidentified "cauta" mollymawks, 200+ Cape petrels, uncountable numbers of unidentifiable prions, an adult n.giant petrel, 5 giant petrel sp. and c30 sooty shearwaters. After dark we waited at the car-park by the beach below the albatross centre where c30 little blue penguins came running up the beach to their burrows. Bird of the day was probably the white southern giant petrel but the little blues were the sweetest by far.
23rd Sept. cool c8ºC, 7-8/8, SW4 falling calm c17.00hrs but increasing to SW8 by dusk, occasional attempts to rain throughout day. After the recent sea watching fest I took a bit of a break, nothing happening out to sea, and did nothing more than stroll up the Paradise track after fieldwork. Little ornithological interest, the usual bellbirds, fantails, grey warblers, silvereyes etc. First y-e penguin egg laid today.
24th Sept. cold all day, SW6 a.m. falling calm by dusk, occ. attempted showers but v.little rain fell. After fieldwork went to stay with the warden at Sinclair Wetlands south of Dunedin. Went out in kayaks through reserve for 3hrs until dusk with a magnificent sunset over mirror calm waters. Numerous duck on main pools including A.shoveler, grey teal, NZ scaup plus colony of little pied and great cormorants. Occasional pukeko wandering the grassy fringes and breeding m.lapwing and S.I. pied oystercatcher around buildings. Bird of the day: pukeko.
25th Sept. hard frost in clear overnight skies c1ºC quickly rising in morning sunshine to over 20ºC by midday 0/8, dry all day. Post breakfast walk to look for the wetlands specialty. It took some time but eventually, after following furtive movements in the dry fen vegetation and a few quiet calls a fernbird flew up and perched just a few meters away. Like a hybrid grasshopper x fan-tailed warbler, it was a surprisingly attractive bird. Other species as last night. Returned to Boulder Beach pm for fieldwork after dark. Whilst sampling y-e penguins two little blues came wandering up the grassy bank, only a pair or two nest in the bay. Bird of the day: fernbird.
26th Sept. hot a.m. c20ºC by 09.00hrs, 2/8, cloud then increased to 7/8 still calm and warm. For the first time since arriving, the sea finally fell calm and the roar of the Pacific fell quiet. A single sooty shearwater flew west in calm conditions a.m. and a pod of c40 dusky dolphins frolicked in the bay. I nearly stood on a NZ fur seal lying on the shore at Highcliff. Managed to brave the freezing sea for a plodge in the midday sun.
27th Sept. warm 8/8, becoming cooler with persistent drizzle p.m. until c21.00hrs S1-2. The first pair of y-e penguins laid their second egg and another little blue was found after dark. Bird of the day: dusky dolphins.
28th Sept. warm, 2/8, SW 1-2 becoming cold late p.m. but fine in the evening. After fieldwork walked to Larnach castle via Paradise Track, NZ's only castle! and a site for rifleman. Saw little. After dark nearly walked into an imm. male Hooker's sealion hauled out on the beach.
29th Sept. c15ºC throughout day, N-NE 3-4 cold in wind, dry. A few seabirds were around crayfish pots near Seal Point p.m. including 3 Salvin's mollymawks, 1 Cape petrel, 1 sooty and 1 prion. Walked via Paradise Track to McAndrew's Bay to use the phone seeing a few bellbirds etc. on the way. Bird of the day: Salvin's mollymawk.
30th Sept. cold, SW8 with occasional squally showers. A sea-watch from 08.15 - 10.00hrs produced 700 sooty shearwaters, 17 "cauta" mollymawks, 1 n.royal albatross, 8 cape petrels and 8 giant petrel spp. Things were still looking promising post fieldwork so I headed to just south of Seal Point for an afternoon session, which proved to be fantastic. In 4hrs I counted 2984 sootys and by making numerous timed counts estimated 4000 passed during my watch and c12000 passed throughout the day, a figure even surpassing Killcummin Head in Co.Mayo! There was little variety however, 34 Cape petrels, 7 giants, 23 "cauta" mollymawks, 4 Buller's and 4 prions. Until that is a pterodroma passed showing a white head and pale tail contrasting with grey upperwings and below an all pale body contrasting markedly with dark underwings. There were only three possibilities with this underpart pattern: grey petrel could be eliminated by the head and tail contrast, soft-plumaged petrel by the lack of breast band and paler head leaving what I had thought of immediately - white-headed petrel! Undoubtedly bird of the day and one of the birds of the trip.
1st Oct. warm, 2/8, N2-3. Sootys still passing the bay in calm conditions with 250+ in 1hr early a.m. plus c40 Cape petrels and a close Hutton's shearwater. A half hour sea-watch p.m. produced a Buller's mollymawk and c30 more sootys. Bird of the day: Buller's mollymawk.
2nd Oct. 23ºC 2/8 a.m. becoming 8/8, S2 dry. Very similar to yesterday with c400 sootys in 1.25hr sea-watch early a.m. plus three distant Hutton's/fluttering shearwaters and a possible, but not confirmed, distant little shearwater. This was my last day at the beach and a bellbird was the first I'd seen away from the Highcliff Rd. Traveled into Dunedin after fieldwork and saying goodbye to the y-eyes. Several NZ pigeons were around the streets of the city on a balmy spring evening.
3rd Oct. 25.5ºC, the hottest day of my trip, 2-5/8, dry with little wind. The plan was to spend the day in Dunedin before going ringing sooty shearwaters after dark on Taiaroa Head. Unfortunately, as I got settled in the Elm Lodge hostel, a message arrived saying the ringing was cancelled and so I headed into the car-hire company to see if I could bring forward my rental by a day. After completing the formalities, my travels around NZ began, a day earlier than expected. I immediately headed south for the Nuggets along Route 1 where I photographed an impressive male NZ fur seal next to the road though was disappointed not to see any southern elephant seals, the only regular site in NZ. From the Nuggets lighthouse, the now expected stream of sootys continued along with a single close Buller's mollymawk; 7 royal spoonbills over the rocks were less expected. A pod of c20 dusky dolphins passed the point and the familiar calls of y-eyed penguins came from the flax bushes. I headed on c16.00hrs and wasted 1.5hrs looking for Puketiro Station Rd. in the Catlins, a yellowhead site listed in "Chambers". There was a Puketiro Rd. but no Aurora Creek Rd. off it and it was difficult to get into any significant stands of native forest from the road. Eventually I continued on my way and at an estuary at Papatowai saw my first black-billed gulls. I continued on and reached the empty Waikawa Holiday Lodge at 19.45hrs in the dark. The owner, Vaughan, came to meet me and brought bread, beans, milk etc. as there was nowhere to get anything to eat. In conversation, he told me that his father owned a trawler and that some of his crew would be going out early tomorrow to fish for flatties. I hesitated a while and then asked whether there was the chance of tagging along. A few phone calls later and fresh supplies from Vaughan for the trip and I was instructed to be on the quay for 06.30hrs in the morning. I could hardly sleep with the excitement of seabird possibilities to come. The accommodation was cheap, clean and basic but Vaughan wouldn't take any payment for the supplies, what more can you ask for? Bird of the day: black-billed gull.
4th Oct. cool at sea, 4-5/8, W2-3 dry. Up at 05.30hrs after a fitful sleep and a bizarre door opening-by-itself mystery in the middle of the night. I waited on the jetty to meet Brian and crew of the 53ft "MV Te Anau". Along with a local teacher out for the day and Clinton the deck hand they eyed me, initially suspiciously, as we jumped into a small dory and headed out to the anchored trawler. Once they heard I wanted to see seabirds, they said that the day before there was a "nelly" (giant petrel) by the boat and that that was unusual. My heart sank a little as I thought this could be a very long and fruitless day, so far on my trip nellys had been frequent in the calmest and most sheltered bays! We headed out into quite a swell over the sand bar and began fishing c08.00 in c170ft. of water. Cape petrels and sootys were common and as the first haul came in so did the birds, it was fantastic! The day took on a familiar routine with nets dropped for 1.5hrs then in, fish sorted, nets out then gutting whilst we trawled. I took on the steering whilst the nets were going out then watched what came in as the fish were gutted and sorted. There was nothing I hadn't seen before but the views were amazing and the length of time at sea far beyond the Kaikoura commercial trip. Two s.royal albatross, 14+ white-capped, 2 Salvin's, 8 Buller's mollymawks, c500 sootys and Cape petrels and a number of both nellys! The fish list was pretty amazing as well with and electric ray, which I was invited to touch but respectfully declined, a couple of bizarre elephant fish, lots of sharks, "star gasers", gurnards, rays and flatties as well as a couple of crayfish which we cooked up on the ship's stove and ate as we went along.
The day was brilliant and the crew good company and a good laugh, full of stories from the southern oceans. We came back into port at dusk after 11hrs at sea, adding bar-tailed godwit on the sandbanks to the trip list. Brian wouldn't accept any cash for the trip and what was undoubtedly one of the best days I had. We exchanged addresses and I promised to take him out in my boat if he ever got to Ireland! I headed on after failing to see Hector's dolphins in Curio Bay and spent the night at the comfortable but busy "Southern Comfort" backpackers in Invercargill. Bird of the day: Buller's mollymawk, again.
5th Oct. very warm and dry, 2-6/8, NW2-3 later. Up at 05.30hrs for a quick breakfast and a look at the tuataras through museum windows. I figured that there was no chance of me seeing a wild one so these would have to do and so they did. Despite an incredible lack of activity they were very impressive, especially Henry who is considered to have hatched c1880! They clearly rely on a conservation of energy strategy for their longevity, as even the thirty-year-old whippersnappers were motionless. I drove down to Awarua Wetlands for a couple of hours before the ferry but was again disappointed by the lack of waders, added turnstone to the list and there were about 100 bauri barwits. Got the 09.30hrs ferry from Bluff to Stewart Is; very calm and the best from the boat were 8 diving petrels. Accommodation on the island isn't brilliant. There are a number of "bachelor hostels" with very dubious reputations and some alarming stories recounted in the logbook back at the "Southern Comfort". I stayed at the "Shearwater Inn" that was ok but not that clean or comfortable. The surrounds of Oban are beautiful and several birds caught my attention. Kaka are continuously flying and calling overhead and it is impossible to comprehend the numbers of tui. Occasional kakariki zoom past and both species are present though I only saw red-crowned. A familiar y-eyed penguin was in Deep Bay and 6 little blues. At 18.30hrs, I joined Phillip Smith's Bravo Adventure Tour to Ocean beach to see Stewart Is. brown kiwi. It's very important that you book this trip well in advance of traveling to the island, I was lucky to get on only three days before and met several people who didn't manage to at all even though it was a quiet time of year. We headed across the bay seeing little blue penguins on the way and arrived just as it got dark. There is a very fixed format to the search and Phillip has only missed kiwis 18 times out of more than 2000 visits however, he'd missed them twice the week before. It seems that a storm in July removed most of the seaweed that the kiwis search for sand-hoppers in and that erosion of the beach meant that there were only a couple of places that the birds could now get onto the beach from. We spent quite some time searching and gradually more and more non-kiwi tracks were being pointed out such as deer footprints, not a good sign. Phillip worked extremely hard, leaving us behind as he went off across the rocks to a distant part of the beach. After 1.5hrs searching I was standing next to him as his light crossed the sand one more time and at last I saw a hunched lump in the tide line. We moved closer in the darkness and were lined up before the light was switched on again, revealing this amazing creature. It was a little startled and hurried up a bank, like an old man wearing baggy pyjamas, until it was below some overhanging branches and then began to feed again. We watched it for nearly ten minutes before leaving it in peace. We continued searching on the way back to the boat but didn't find anymore, it was a huge relief to have seen the one. Bird of the day and a strong candidate for bird of the trip. On the way back to the harbour, I got talking to an American tour group and together we chartered Phillip to take us on a pelagic the following afternoon.
6th Oct. cool, 7/8 overnight rain and calm becoming 2/8 SW6 a.m. and for rest of day. Took a water taxi to Ulva Island 08.15 - 12.30hrs. On arrival, a weka appeared on the footpath and as with many of NZ's birds was unbelievably confiding. The next species was a bit of a mystery, as it appeared to be a NZ robin however, "Chambers" clearly states that this species is not present on the island. As with many of these introductions the books can't possibly keep up with the ongoing translocations and the robins are a recent addition though not the most recent. On my last night in Dunedin, I stayed with a biologist who'd spent the day catching yellowheads for release on Ulva. Fifteen had been released there three days ago but despite searching, there was no sight nor sound. A juvenile South Island saddleback was near Sydney beach along with several S.I.tomtit. Red-crowned kakarikis were common as were brown creepers. As the wind increased in strength I became doubtful as to whether the planned afternoon's pelagic would take place. We headed out of Halfmoon Bay c13.30hrs and stopped to view the rocks on the western side of the harbour. Here we could see 4 Fiordland crested penguins amongst the rocks, an unexpected bonus. As we headed towards the Muttonbird Islands a stream of mollymawks passed the boat as well as 2 s.royal albatrosses. Over the next 4.5hrs we noted 40+ white-capped, 1 Salvin's and 20+Buller's mollymawks, 2 northern and a single southern giant petrel c10 cape petrels, c20 sootys and 5 diving petrels. The best however, were c8 brown skuas including a pair nesting on top of a rock stack. Several of these came in to the fish being thrown over the side of the boat allowing close photos to be taken; all were in immaculately fresh plumage. The charter cost us $65NZ each or $450NZ for the boat. Unfortunately, we didn't see any of the speciality seabirds of Stewart Island except for the skuas; we had a protracted stop to see y-e penguin despite the fact that everyone else was on their way to Otago where they'd see loads, which I felt was a waste of time. Ideally, you need to get on a much longer trip to the west of Stewart Is. to stand much of a chance of seeing mottled petrel, Cook's petrel, broad-billed prion or to the south to see Antarctic tern. Bird of the day: brown skua/South Island saddleback.
7th Oct. v.warm, 4/8, occasional drizzle and showers SW 2-3. Clocks changed to summertime overnight. I got up to get an early water taxi to Ulva but found that everyone was in bed and so I couldn't get a boat until 10.00hrs. Again failed to see yellowhead, had incredibly close views of a kaka destroying a branch otherwise much as yesterday's visit. I left Stewart Is. 15.30hrs and spent the evening at the Awarua wetlands where the tide was high and the few waders distant. Three adult Caspian terns were loafing and a NZ pipit was in the salt marsh vegetation near the end of the road. I spent the night at the "Southern Comfort" again after spending some time checking out the lack of activity in the tuatara tank. Can captive tuataras be bird of the day? If not: kaka.
8th Oct. v.cold all day with max temp. 11ºC but feeling bitter in the steady breeze.7/8, light shower p.m. Left Invercargill 07.00hrs in search of the Oreti River. Had reasonable views from a road bridge before finding an access track, see black-fronted plover details for directions. The river held 5 b.f.plovers, which were superb and well worth the search, several b.f.terns, Caspian tern and several breeding S.I.P.oystercatchers. I headed on towards Te Anau, stopping at the Riverton Estuary to try to see some more waders. There was a flock of knot and barwits but they remained far too distant. At the Mararoa River, just before Manapouri, there is a huge colony of black-billed gulls below the road. I carried on beyond Te Anau to the Eglinton Valley making several unsuccessful stops for blue duck. Stopped at Lake Gunn and spent a couple of hours walking the trail there. By far the best bird was riflemen; they are like dazzling phylloscs with long bills and are easily attracted by pishing. Otherwise, the woods were quiet except for two heard yellow-crowned kakarikis. I moved on, as there is no other accommodation in the area until I got to Milford Sound. The drive here from Te Anau is incredible even with a thick blanket of cloud hiding most of the mountain tops and the scene at the shore of Milford Sound looking at Mitre Peak has to be one of the most stunning in the world. Bird of the day riflemen, but the black-fronted plovers came a close second.
9th Oct. cold all day, 3/8-7/8 later, light rain from c13.00-17.00hrs. Left the hostel and headed straight to the entrance to the Homer Tunnel to look for rock wren and kea but gave up after c1hr in favour of walking up the Gertrude Valley. I spent 3hrs in this area and again failed to find rock wren. This however, was less of a surprise than the lack of kea. The occasional bird called and skirted the high peaks in silhouette but that was it. The only consolation was stunning views of riflemen in the dwarf forest near the start of the walk and a NZ pipit. Back at the car, I was disappointed to see the notorious mountain parrots weren't stripping my car and I prepared to leave. Just as I reversed out a kea appeared sitting on a rock by the car. I spent the next forty minutes photographing and enjoying its bizarre antics of trying to get into the car and eat anything in sight. I returned to the Homer Tunnel for another two hours to cement my dipping on rock wren though keas were now in this car park worrying the tourists. I headed on down the valley and spent more time not seeing blue duck. Single NZ robins were at the Divide and L.Gunn where once again I heard but failed to see yellow-crowned kakariki. Heading back to Te Anau I stopped at the Mirror Lakes where a single grey duck was an addition to the trip list. The sunset over the lake and mountains at Te Anau was magnificent. Stayed in superb motel apartment for $55NZ, a bit pricey but all the hostels were closed or full. Ate at the "Moose" which was very good value. Bird of the day: kea.
10th Oct. 5-10ºC, 8/8, light drizzle most of the day. Left motel at 06.00hrs for the long drive to the Mackenzie basin. Passing some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and seeing nothing due to the very low cloud, I arrived at the Ahuriri River c09.30hrs. I stopped on the road to scan the river at the first opportunity and was surprised by an interesting stilt though closer examination showed it to be an adult hybrid due to solid black breast, white belly, flanks and vent. Several pied stilts and b.f.terns were present. Next stop was the road bridge just north of Omarama. From the bridge, I could see more pied stilts and terns and decided to walk down the bank to get a closer look. Heading downstream, I was immediately harassed by numerous banded dotterel/double banded plover. These are beautiful birds with some of the males in immaculate plumage. I soon noticed two mostly black stilts. One with white mottling on the neck and breast and the other with more extensive white on the breast and below. However, both had black flanks and not a complete black band on the breast. They were also in constant battle with two pied stilts, which they harassed and chased away. Eventually, I saw them well enough to see their colour ringed legs suggesting they were from the management program. Later I discovered that these were part of a group of 79 juveniles and immatures recently released in the area. In addition, there were several breeding wrybill on the shingle banks. All in all this was a wonderful site. I spent a bit of time around Twizel and the stilt centre talking to staff before heading on to the Cass River. This is a long drive from the main road but another superb site. I spent about three hours walking along the shingle banks photographing the breeding wrybills; banded dotterel and b.f.terns though didn't find anymore black stilts. There were three NZ pipits here and more, presumably genuine grey ducks. Late in the afternoon, I decided to head back towards the east coast for the night and made my way to Ashburton and a poor cabin in a campsite. By now it was pouring down and the wind increasing in strength, it was the worst weather I'd encountered so far in NZ. Birds of the day: black stilt, wrybill and banded dotterel.
11th Oct <12ºC 8/8 heavy overnight rain becoming showery late a.m. then 5/8 SE4 later. I planned to go back to Akaroa to see the Hector's dolphins but discovered that all the boat trips were cancelled due to the strong winds and instead opted for an extensive search of L.Ellesmere for waders. I began at Lakeside at the south end of the lake seeing the usual waterfowl plus Australasian g.c.grebe, several Caspian terns and black-billed gulls before eventually finding Embankment Rd. This looked more promising though the only interesting waders were more banded dotterel. At the north end of the lake there was a flock of c190 pied stilts, 22 Royal spoonbill and c1,000 A.shoveler but the lack of any calidris sandpipers or Pacific golden plovers was very disappointing. I decided that the weather wasn't going to improve enough to get me out to see the dolphins the following day either so drove north and back to where I began my travels at the "Topspot" backpackers in Kaikoura. Bird of the day: banded dotterel/the mass of shoveler.
12th Oct. 13ºC ashore though considerably colder at sea, 6/8, SE3 dec. showers early a.m. then dry. Made two "Albatross Encounters" trips out of Kaikoura. The first at 06.45hrs produced more birds than my first trip in Sept. and a good variety of species though I estimated that we were only stationary and looking at birds for c1hr out of a 2.25hr trip. Best were an adult Campbell Is./NZ black-browed mollymawk, 1 or 2 white-chinned petrels and 3 probable antipodensis wandering albatrosses. On the trip I was told of a morepork frequenting a tree fern on the loop track at the base of Mount Fyffe and took a trip out to look for it though it seemed to have moved on; several Californian quail were hardly compensation though they are quite impressive looking. Following the first pelagic I had arranged to go out again in the afternoon along with Ronald de Lange and Franske Hoekema from Holland to look specifically for Antarctic fulmar in the sea trench to the south of the peninsula. When we arrived at the quay, we found that more people had joined our trip including the Americans with whom I had gone on the Stewart Island pelagic; on the 10.00hrs trip, they had seen Antarctic fulmar. We headed south and received a call from a fishing boat of a large white bird with black feathers scattered through the plumage; moments later we arrived for fantastic views of a white morph southern giant petrel which was surprisingly boat shy. We moved out over deeper water and at last, an Antarctic fulmar arrived and stayed with the boat for some time. This turned out to be my best Kaikoura pelagic with 1 or 2 grey -faced petrels, the adult NZ black-browed mollymawk plus an adult and immature sub-antarctic black-browed as well as the regular array of wandering and royal albatrosses and cauta mollymawks; several dusky dolphins passed the boat on the way out. Bird of the day: Antarctic fulmar.
13th Oct. cool, 2/8-6/8 later, still early a.m. becoming NE3-4 later. I was up earlier than usual for the 05.45hrs "Dolphin Encounters" trip to swim with the dusky dolphins. It was superb with c100 dolphins around us in 1600m of water. The most exceptional part of the trip however, was that when I was in the water I saw the white morph southern nelly; I swam over and underneath it looking into its face and huge bill through my facemask at a distance of c3 inches! It was remarkably unafraid of the wet-suited creature next to it and even insisted on following me around as I swam, in vain, after the far more elusive dolphins. During the rest of the day I tried to make new arrangements to get to North Island as there were only overnight ferries available through the Cook Strait, not so good for sea-watching or hoping to glimpse the king shags. I did however, finally catch up with 5 Hector's dolphins, which appeared in front of the whale-watch station, leaping and somersaulting in the waves. I tried again for the morepork on Mount Fyffe without success and did some land-based sea watching from the main road south of Kaikoura. Bird of the day: Hector's dolphin and the incredible sight of thousands of Hutton's shearwaters off the point.
14th Oct. 24.5ºC, 3-4/8, NW 2-3 in Kaikoura; 8/8, drizzle and very warm in Auckland. The one drawback of the dolphin and whale-watching trips from Kaikoura is that they cancel whenever the wind begins to get up on the basis that they want their customers to get the best experience possible i.e. not spend 2+hrs throwing up! This can be very frustrating as when it's still safe to go out they will not so lots of people end up hanging around and you have to wait your turn for a trip. Eventually, the whale-watching people decided to go out again on 14th after a two-day closure. I set out in the enormous catamaran having superb close up views of the Hutton's as they flew alongside the boat. The most frustrating thing here is that you are not allowed to stand out side or even upright whilst the boat is moving though they are quite well organised once you're near the whales. We had amazing views of two male sperm whales logging and diving at about 30m from the boat, three sequences in all. Several seabirds were around including southern royal and wandering albatrosses, Cape and Westland petrels, sootys and several mollymawks. Following the trip I headed south to Christchurch; as the only ferries to N.Island were at night I decided to fly to Auckland and get an extra days birding in there. I arrived c19.00hrs and booked into a motel not too far from the airport and more importantly, very close to the Mangere sewage works! Bird of the day: the "great" albatrosses.
15th Oct. the forecast for strong winds and rain proved as reliable as those in Fermanagh 23ºC, 7-8/8, dry with short shower c17.30hrs, N2 inc.4 later. Out at 07.30hrs, drove to the sewage works and onto the island road; nothing much to see except a few exotics and frustrating not to be able to get out to the other shoreline areas. Drove the southern shore road where finally I found some calidrids. Four sharp-tailed sandpipers were close in along with a flock of wrybills, knot, bar-tailed godwits and a few stilts. Unfortunately, the tide was rising and within minutes, all of the birds headed into the sewage works to a distant and inaccessible spit complete with more shorebirds and 32 royal spoonbills. I drove on and tried to access Te Hihi but without success. Visited Block Island Road in the hope of seeing A.bittern with similar lack of success so on I went to Miranda. Arrived c12.15hrs, booked in for the night and found that the tide was due to start producing birds from c15.00hrs. I arrived at the stilt pools at 14.30 where there were already three adult "winter" sharp-tailed sandpipers at point blank range; several wrybill and an adult Pacific golden plover arrived followed by increasing numbers of godwit and eventually a NZ dotterel. Two r.n.stints came in and then a terek sandpiper at last I'd found some waders! From the hide, there were huge flocks of godwits, knot and SIPOs, 100+ b.b.gull, the terek flew in adding to the Snettisham atmosphere though the three dotterels reminded me of where I was. Eventually I located a melanuroides black-tailed godwit in the flock, small and dark it was constantly harassed by the bar-tails. I retired to the reserve centre and spent the evening swamped in shorebird related books, maps, charts and pictures, another great day. Bird of the day: NZ dotterel, closely followed by the terek, stints and sharp-tailed sands.
Oct.16th heavy overnight rain lasting into the morning, 23ºC, NW4-5. I was back on the reserve at dawn for a repeat performance, which is exactly what I got. Except for the black-tail, everything else was as last night, excellent views of all the species. I packed and left c10.00hrs and drove north via Auckland to Goat Island Marine Research Station near Leigh in the hope of some sea watching. After c1/2hr walk from the car park along a slippery track I got to a suitable spot to look from. Views were distant but saw Buller's, fluttering and flesh-footed shearwaters plus an arctic skua chasing white-fronted terns before I gave up. Spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find a boat to take me out to sea. Whilst at Miranda I'd spoken to the warden Keith Whoodley and someone from the Auckland ornithological group but neither had any info on getting out to sea despite the range of seabirds to be seen. My enquiries led me to the hotel bar in Leigh where I was told to be on the quay at 07.00hrs tomorrow to see whether I could get out. I stayed in the local motel. Bird of the day: two reef herons in the bay at Sandspit.
17th Oct. v.warm, 2-4/8, NW2 dec, dry. After some time hanging around, I was offered the chance to go out on the MV "Equalizer", a long-liner, for the day. I was a little unsure as I thought there'd be little chum going overboard and I'd seen the boat fishing very close in to the shore the day before. I decided to go anyway and off we set. I asked the skipper Mike where we were headed and was over the moon to hear that the previous day trawlers had ruined their fishing so they were going to between Great and Little Barrier Islands to escape the trawlers. Flocks of fluttering shearwaters with flesh-footeds in support were escorting us; soon the first Buller's came by, stunning seabirds. As I sat at the back of the boat two large rorqual whales surfaced just off the side along with the first common dolphins. It was getting better. I was told that whales were regularly seen and "Jesus birds" usually come along, it wasn't long before I saw my first of these bouncing off the waves rather than walking on the water, one of my most desired species of the whole trip - white-faced storm petrel! I'd seen about 6 by the time we finished setting the two 2km long lines and then took a detour into a feeding frenzy of A.gannets, the three common shearwaters and c100 common dolphins. The dolphins stayed with us for c3hrs and two more large whales were seen; identified as Sei I later found out that there were unusually high numbers of Bryde's whales in the bay so they could have been either species. Large rafts of Buller's sat on the water as the wind died but before this several superb Cook's petrels passed the boat and after some time looking closely at the flesh-footeds I picked out a black petrel circling the boat, these birds are very difficult to see in NZ but breed on Little Barrier so I expect could be seen regularly from boats in this area. The middle of the day was a bit quiet as the wind continued to drop but the occasional Cook's or white-faced storm kept things going. We eventually headed for home. Passing through the same waters as on the way out we encountered similar species. I was struck by the fact that Pycroft's petrel could be present but I didn't manage to find any amongst the Cook's. Numbers of white-faced storms increased until I saw a loose association of c100 birds in an area c36º.17.79S 174º55.00E. We arrived back in Leigh c17.00hrs after possibly the best days sea birding amongst many. I headed in to Auckland for the night, staying in a basic city center hostel before getting the ferry to Tiritiri in the morning. Bird of the day: white-faced storm petrel.
18th Oct. v.warm a.m., 3/8, still, becoming cooler with occ. light showers, 7/8, NW3 , fine in evening. Caught the 09.00hrs Fuller's ferry from Auckland harbour to Tiritiri for $50NZ in the hope that the longer trip would produce a few birds however, the best view before we reached Gulf Harbour was of the Auckland skyline. The only seabirds were 27 fluttering and a single Buller's shearwater. Once on land the, mostly translocated, birds began to perform immediately. The only disconcerting thing, which is also true with many NZ endemics throughout the country, is that they mostly carry an array of multi-coloured leg jewelry. Saddlebacks were seemingly everywhere as were red-crowned kakariki. After leaving my bags in the excellent accommodation, I set off to wander the island. Bellbirds and tui are very common but it was sometime before I sat down to watch the stitchbirds. The fantastic males were constantly zooming after each other and belting out their songs to try and maintain their territories. They have a complex and disturbing social/sex life, it's well worth talking to the researchers on the island to find out the grim details. After some walking I finally came face to face with the bird I'd possibly most wanted to see for the past twenty years or so. They may be just an overgrown moorhen but you've got to respect anything formerly considered extinct that one day appears from behind a grass tussock and walks back into existence. I sat for a couple of hours watching two takahes; they hadn't appeared on the jetty before I arrived nor wandered into the shop so I was quite pleased it had taken at least some time and looking to see them. They slowly walked about, pulling up grass and holding it with their toes whilst nipping off the choicest bits and occasionally coming over to try my laces. Perhaps top of the list of birds of the trip. After dark I tried the "petrel station" in a vain effort to call in grey-faced petrels, wrong time of year, and then heard two little spotted kiwi. One calling loudly in the distance and the other snuffling nearby in the undergrowth. It was a beautiful, still night but I was shattered and headed for bed knowing that I could try again tomorrow night. Bird of the day: obviously takahe, followed by stitchbird.
19th Oct. still early a.m. becoming sunny and v.hot. NW breeze increased through day to gale force with heavy rain after dark. Up at 05.00hrs for the dawn chorus, which consisted of tuis , bellbirds and little else. At the beginning of the wattle track however, the mournful whistles and calls of a kokako could be heard and then his silhouette seen against the lightening sky. The female was also present and he was watched feeding her. They flew a short way and were watched feeding in the early sunlight, beautiful greys and blues contrasting with the black bill and eye surround. After a couple of hours, I returned for breakfast and tried the pool behind the accommodation for the brown teal. I'd been told to call for the bird, which was often loafing through out the day under the netting provided. I gave up after a few minutes feeling even more stupid than at the petrel station last night. I returned later with one of the island's volunteers with a skill in calling out the duck. She called for 20 minutes with no sign of life; the previous night a brown teal had been seen feeding on one of the paths near the lighthouse and it was thought to be this semi-resident bird. We were giving up when after c25minutes the teal miraculously swam out from under the nets and came to eat bread at our feet; this is one species where this behaviour doesn't rule out its wild credentials! Why it took so long to decide to come out I've no idea, it was very bizarre and after about ten minutes it swam out of sight for the rest of the day. I wandered the island for the rest of the day seeing stitchbirds, saddlebacks and of course takahe. I checked out the little blues in their designer viewing burrows and heard a morepork calling at dawn from near the lighthouse. In the evening, a 1hr sea-watch from the north cliffs produced 15 Buller's, 40 fluttering, 1 sooty and 1 flesh-footed shearwater plus an arctic skua. After dark the weather was terrible and all I saw was a little blue penguin wandering along a footpath; not a screech from a kiwi. Bird of the day: kokako.
20th Oct. during the night the storm threw tables and chairs across the lawn and the likelihood of me getting off the island for my evening flight seemed increasingly slim. However, at dawn despite the heavy rain it was depressingly rather calm. Heavy rain persisted until c08.00hrs then heavy showers and thunder continued until c14.00hrs when the sun came out and it became a beautiful, hot spring day. Up at 05.00 and returned c09.00 soaked and having seen very little. I returned to the wattle track and took my last slide of the male kokako c20m away, it then flew to the boardwalk and hopped about on the steps c2m away! Typical. I set off with Matt, the stitchbird researcher to check out some morepork hangouts. En route, we saw stitchbird nests with young and I found out more of their dubious activities. Two roosts were empty so we tried a nest hole in a hollow horizontal trunk. We could hear the bird/s inside but saw nothing. Below the entrance hole was a motley collection of rare bird colour rings. A male stitchbird's leg complete with ring combination, a second stitchbird and rings from two NZ robins; this bird had fine tastes. Having tuned into kokako calls I saw five different birds through the day and heard my first shining cuckoo. After checking out the takahe, I left in mid afternoon back to Auckland and my evening flight via LA to London. The only US bird to make the list was an American crow at the airport. Bird of the day: takahe followed by kokako.
This list includes all identifiable forms. Nomenclature follows "Checklist of New Zealand Birds" The Ornithological Society of New Zealand Inc.1955 except for the albatrosses and mollymawks which follows "The birds, marine mammals, habitat and history of the subantarctic islands off New Zealand" Russ, R. and Shirahai, H. Alula Vol.6 No.3 2000.
Numbers in brackets represent (total number of individuals seen on trip, number of days seen, max. seen per day).
1.Stewart Island kiwi Apteryx australis lawryi (1, 1, 1) A single was seen on Phillip Smith's commercial trip to Ocean Beach, Stewart Island 5th Oct.
2.Little spotted kiwiA.oweni (2, 1, 2) Two were only heard, at night, on Tiritiri 18th Oct.
3.Yellow-eyed penguinMegadyptes antipodes Eight to 35 seen daily at the study site on the Otago Peninsula 11th Sept - 2nd Oct with the exception of 17th whilst offsite. Birds came in to the beach from c15.00hrs until dusk and could be seen heading out to sea early am. Occasionally visible on the sea during the day. Away from Boulder Beach a single was heard calling late afternoon at The Nuggets 3rd Oct., a single was off Deep Bay, Stewart Island 5th and a single seen coming out of the sea to a beach near Buller's Point, also Stewart Island 6th.
4.Little blue penguinEudaptyla minor (108, 9, 46+) c30 came in to the car-park below the Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head after dark 22nd Sept; 2 were found in the study site whilst looking for yellow-eyeds at night 25th and a single in the same area 27th; 46+ were seen from the boat heading across Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island, on the way to look for kiwi 5th Oct. with c8 on Stewart Island pelagic 6th. In the Hauraki Gulf c15 were seen from the Leigh pelagic 17th and then on Tiritiri a single at night 18th, 3 in artificial nest boxes 19th and 2 20th.
(Snares crested penguin E.robustus a single specimen was brought into the University of Otago on 11th Sept. recovered from Papanui beach, Otago Peninsula)
5.Fiordland crested penguinE.pachyrynchos (4, 1, 4) Four were seen from a boat in the rocks on the north side of Halfmoon Bay, Stewart Island, 6th Oct.
6.Southern crested grebePodiceps cristatus australis (13, 1, 13) Thirteen were on Lake Ellesmere, Ataahua end, 11th Oct.
7.Snowy albatrossDiomedia exulans exulans (7, 3, 5) c5 were seen from the Kaikoura pelagic 9th Sept., with a single there 12th Oct. and another from the whale watching boat at Kaikoura 14th.
8.Gibson's wandering albatross D.(e.) gibsonii (c10, 3, c8) c8 probably belonging to this form were seen from the Kaikoura pelagic 9th Sept. being smaller than D.e.exulans and darker with fine brown barring on the scapulars, wing coverts and uppertail coverts and brown marks on the crown. A single possibly gibsonii from Kaikoura 12th Oct. and a single gibsonii/antipodensis from the whale watching Kaikoura trip 14th.
9.Antipodean wandering albatrossD.(e.) antipodensis (3, 1, 3) birds appearing to be of this form being small and showing extensive dark crowns were seen from both Kaikoura pelagics 12th Oct; 3 from the 06.45hrs and 2-3 from the 14.30hrs trip. A single seen from the whale watching trip 14th was either gibsionii or antipodensis.
"Great albatross" species (4, 2, 3) Three distant off Boulder Beach 14th Sept. and a single also from Boulder Beach 21st Sept. could not be specifically identified.
10.Southern royal albatrossD. epomorphora epomorphora (11-14, 8, 2-3) A single was seen from the Kaikoura pelagic 9th Sept; 1 from Taiaroa Head 17th; 1 very close past Boulder Beach 22nd; 1 south of Seal Point 30th; 2 Waikawa pelagic 4th Oct.; 2 Stewart Is. pelagic 6th; 2-3 Kaikoura pelagic 12th and 1-2 from the whale watch trip out of Kaikoura 14th.
11.Northern royal albatrossD. e. sanfordi (c25, 7, c8) Three were seen from the Kaikoura pelagic 9th Sept. with the same or another three from the shore at Kaikoura 10th; 1 Boulder Beach 14th; c8 Taiaroa Head 17th; 1 following a fishing boat off Boulder Beach 21st; c8 Taiaroa Head 22nd and a single Boulder Beach 30th.
12.Sub-Antarctic black-browed mollymawkThalassarche (melanophris) melanophris (4-5, 2, 3-4) Seen only from the pelagics out of Kaikoura. A single immature came in to the boat 9th Sept.; 1 adult, 1sub-adult showing a dark smudge to the bill tip (otherwise as adult) and 1-2 immatures 12th Oct. Note that the immatures were most likely to have been of this form though separation is difficult.
13.NZ/Campbell Island mollymawk T.(m.) impavida (1, 1, 1) An adult was around the "Albatross Encounters" boat out of Kaikoura on both the 06.45hrs and 14.30hrs tours 12th Oct. On the latter trip it, presumably though not definitely the same bird as earlier, came in to the chum and sat on the water to the rear of the boat.
14.Buller's mollymawkT.bulleri bulleri (c100, 7, c50) c50 were off Taiaroa Head in very strong winds 17th Sept.; c15 Taiaroa Head 22nd; 4 Seal Point 30th; 1 south of Seal Point 1st Oct.; 1 passed close by the Nuggets 3rd; 8 from the Waikawa pelagic 4th and 20+ from the Stewart Is. pelagic 6th. All seen well appeared to be of this whiter-crowned southern form.
15.White-capped mollymawk T.(cauta) steadi (c190, 10, 80+) Seven were seen from the Kaikoura pelagic 9th Sept. with 2 from the shore at Kaikoura 10th; 3 Taiaroa Head 17th; 2 Boulder Beach 22nd; 6 Boulder Beach 30th; 15+ Waikawa pelagic 4th Oct.; 40+ Stewart Is. pelagic 6th; 80+ Kaikoura pelagic 12th; 30+ from dolphin boat and shore at Kaikoura 13th and 5 from the whale watching trip out of Kaikoura 14th.
16.Salvin's mollymawkT.(c.) salvini (c140, 11, c100) Five were seen from the Kaikoura pelagic 9th Sept. with 5+ from the shore there 10th; 2 Taiaroa Head 17th; 4 Boulder Beach 22nd; 3 around the crab pots near Seal Point 29th; 5 Boulder Beach 30th; 2 Waikawa pelagic 4th Oct.; 1 Stewart Is. pelagic 6th; c100 Kaikoura pelagic 12th; c10 from the dolphin boat and shore Kaikoura 13th and 3 from the whale watching trip out of Kaikoura 14th.
Unidentified "Shy mollymawk" spp. T.(c.) steadi/salvini (133, 8, 34) immatures or birds too distant to specifically identify were seen as follows: c10 Boulder Beach 14th Sept.; 10 Taiaroa Head 17th; 10 Boulder Beach 20th; 32 Boulder Beach 21st; 30 Boulder Beach 22nd; 34 Boulder Beach 30th; 3 Boulder Beach 1st Oct. and 4 Waikawa pelagic 4th.
17.Northern giant petrel Macronectes halli (c36, 5, c20) c20 Kaikoura pelagic 9th Sept.; a single adult close off Boulder Beach 22nd was probably halli; 4 Waikawa pelagic 4th Oct.; 1 Stewart Is. pelagic 6th and c10 Kaikoura pelagic 12th.
18.Southern giant petrelM.giganteus (11, 6, 3) Three Kaikoura pelagic 9th Sept.; a single white morph south past Boulder Beach 22nd; 3 Waikawa pelagic 4th Oct.; 2 Stewart Is. pelagic 6th; 2 including a white morph Kaikoura pelagic 12th and the same white bird seen from the dolphin boat 13th.
Unidentified giant petrel spp. M.halli/giganteus (160, 19, 30) Sightings of giant petrels were much less reliant on strong winds than was the case for albatrosses. Occasional birds often drifted past on calm days, see the run of sightings from Boulder Beach, and were often much closer to the shore than the Diomedia and Thalassarche species. The vast majority of giant petrels seen were very dark juveniles or immatures and was hence not separable without seeing the exact colour of the bill tip. Consequently, specific identification was generally confined to birds seen very well from pelagics. Unidentified birds were noted as follows: 20+ Kaikoura peninsula 10th Sept.; 8 Taiaroa Head 14th then daily from Boulder Beach with 9 15th, 2 16th, c15 17th, 1 18th, 1 19th, 2 20th, 4 21st and 6 22nd. Following a break in sightings 2 Boulder Beach 29th; 15 30th, 6 1st Oct., 3 2nd. 15 Waikawa pelagic 4th; 10 Stewart Is. pelagic 6th; 30 Kaikoura pelagic 12th; 8 from the dolphin boat Kaikoura 13th and 3 from the whale watch trip out of Kaikoura 14th.
19.Cape petrelDaption capense capense/australis (2370+, 16, c1000 ) c1,000 Kaikoura pelagic 9th Sept. including both dark and whiter backed forms; 1 Boulder Beach 15th; 10+ Taiaroa Head 17th; 13 Seal Point 21st; 200+ Taiaroa Head 22nd; 1 Boulder Beach 29th; 42 Boulder Beach 30th; 50+ Boulder Beach 1st Oct.; 1 Boulder Beach 2nd; c500 exclusively dark backed Snares (australis) form Waikawa pelagic 4th; 1 Foveaux Strait ferry 5th; c10 Stewart Is. pelagic 6th; 5 Foveaux Strait 7th; 500+ including both dark and whiter backed birds Kaikoura pelagics 12th; c40 from the dolphin boat Kaikoura 13th and c20 from the whale watch trip out of Kaikoura 14th.
20.Antarctic fulmarFulmarus glacialoides (1, 1, 1) A single bird came in to the "Albatross Encounters" boat out of Kaikoura 12th Oct. It was located around the trench to the south of the peninsula, a favoured locality for the species.
21.Fairy prionPachyptila turtur (c1511, 7, c1000) All prions seen well were of this species and it is the most likely to be present in numbers. However, most prions were seen distantly in flocks and were not specifically identifiable. Two including 1 which came in close to the boat on the Kaikoura pelagic 9th Sept.; c100 off Boulder Beach 14th; c400 off Boulder Beach a.m.15th; c1,000 Taiaroa Head 17th; 1 Boulder Beach 29th; 7 Boulder Beach 30th and 1 from the Leigh pelagic 17th Oct.
22.Flesh-footed shearwaterPuffinus carneipes (221+, 3, 200+) Seen only in Hauraki Gulf with 20+ from the cliffs at Goat Island 16th Oct. mostly quite distant though three came closer behind a crayfish boat; 200+ on pelagic out of Leigh 17th and 1 from Tiritiri 19th.
23.Buller's shearwaterP.bulleri (821+, 4, 800+) Seen only in the Hauraki Gulf with 5 from cliffs at Goat Island 16th Oct., 800+ on pelagic out of Leigh 17th including several rafts of 100+, a single from the ferry as it arrived at Tiritiri 18th and 15 from Tiritiri 19th.
24.Sooty shearwater P.giseus (c14000, 17, c12000) Initially scarce with occasional singles then numbers rose dramatically on 30th Sept. following which they remained numerous, especially in the south. A single off Boulder Beach 14th Sept.; 1 Taiaroa Head 17th and c30 there 22nd; 1 Boulder Beach 26th and 29th. On 30th a large movement occurred heading south past Boulder Beach with 4,000 recorded in four hours; timed counts throughout the day suggested a day total of c12,000 birds. Despite calm conditions in the following days sootys continued to head south with 300+ 1st Oct. and c400 2nd. On Oct.3rd c500 were close in to the Nuggets, Southland, there is a breeding colony here and these may have been returning local birds. c500 were seen from the Waikawa pelagic 4th; 4 from the Foveaux ferry 5th; c20 Stewart Is. pelagic 6th and 13 Foveaux ferry 7th. 40+ were seen from the Kaikoura pelagics 12th, 1 Kaikoura 13th and 3 14th; 30+ from the Leigh pelagic 17th and a single from Tiritiri 19th.
25.Fluttering shearwaterP.gavia (468+, 5, 200+) A single seen very well close to Boulder Beach 15th Sept. was thought to be this species rather than huttoni; c200 were off Goat Island, Hauraki Gulf 16th Oct.; 200+ were seen very well from the Leigh pelagic 17th; 27 were close to Tiritiri 18th with 40 there 19th.
26.Hutton's shearwaterP.huttoni This species was uncountable off the Kaikoura peninsula. The species is endemic to the Kaikoura Mountains and breeds in only two valleys above 5,000m. In the austral spring, more or less the world's population gathers in the bay off the peninsula to feed and wait for the snow to melt at the breeding sites. The birds swarm in tens of thousands very close in to the shore and can easily be seen from the car park at the fur seal colony. Despite this they are not seen from the "Albatross Encounters" boat except on the way out and back in, they are not seen whilst offshore. A single passed Boulder Beach 14th Sept.; 1 off Taiaroa Head 17th and 1 south past Boulder Beach 30th.
27.Grey petrel Procellaria cinerea (1, 1, 1) A single was seen from the "Albatross Encounters" boat out of Kaikoura 9th Sept.
28.Black petrel P.parkinsoni (10?, 1, 10?) It was very difficult to estimate numbers seen from the pelagic out of Leigh 17th Oct. We spent c6hrs within an area c2sq.km and birds kept coming and going as we followed two 2km transects but up to three birds were present intermittently around the boat during the 9hr trip, mostly whilst south of Little Barrier Is.
29.Westland black petrelP.westlandica (202+, 5, 100+) Seen exclusively off Kaikoura with c20 9th Sept. and 2 from the shore there 10th; 100+ from the Kaikoura pelagics 12th Oct., c50 there 13th and c30 14th.
30.White-chinned petrelP.aequinoctialis (1-2, 1, 1-2) One or two were present around the "Albatross Encounters" boat on the 06.45hrs trip out of Kaikoura 12th Oct. These were picked out amongst very large numbers of P.westlandica.
Westland/white-chinned petrel P.westlandica/aequinoctialis (1, 1, 1) A single unidentified black Procellaria petrel was off Taiaroa Head 17th Sept.
31.Grey-faced (Great-winged) petrelPterodroma macroptera gouldi (2-3, 2, 1-2) Seen only from Kaikoura. Typically a little boat shy, making occasional passes, often towards the back of the close feeding flocks. A single made two passes and flew over the boat 9th Sept. and 1-2 were seen from the 14.30hrs trip 12th Oct.
32.White-headed petrelP.lessoni (1, 1, 1) A single was seen well passing south of Seal Point, Otago Peninsula, on the afternoon of 30th Sept. during a large movement of mostly sooty shearwaters. The white head and pale tail contrasted with the darker upperwings and on the underside the white body stood out against the dark underwings. This was the most unexpected seabird seen during my visit and a great reward after hours of staring at sootys streaming past with little else for hours.
33.Cook's petrel P.cooki (40+, 1, 40+) All were seen from the Leigh pelagic 17th Oct. and most birds were concentrated in an area c7km SE of Little Barrier Is. though birds were encountered throughout the day including five sitting on the water near our boat; a surprisingly small and delicate pteradroma. Pycroft's petrel P.pycrofti breeds on Hen and Chicken Islands to the north and is likely to be found in this area though I did not manage to find any.
34.White-faced storm petrel Pelagodroma marina (200+, 1, 200+) Seen only from the Leigh pelagic 17th Oct. with the first noted c3/4hrs out of Leigh. Singles followed before a loose flock of 10, they were often associated with rafts of shearwaters sitting on the water. Occasional birds and couples were seen throughout the day and then an amazing loose flock of 100+ at c36.17.79S 174.55.00W on the way back to port. Certainly one of the birds of the trip bouncing off the waves, they could be picked out from quite a distance.
35.Common diving petrelPelecanoides urinatrix (65+, 5, 50+) A single seen from the shore past Kaikoura peninsula 9th Sept.; 8 from the Foveaux ferry 5th Oct.; 5 Stewart Is. pelagic 6th; 1 Foveaux ferry 7th and 50+ Leigh pelagic 17th.
36.Australasian gannet Morus serrator (787+, 10, 500+) Scarce from South Island but common in the Hauraki Gulf. Three from Kaikoura peninsula 10th Sept.; 1 Boulder Beach 14th and 15th; 1 Boulder Beach 22nd; 1 imm. over the boat on the Waikawa pelagic 4th Oct.; c30 off Goat Is. 16th; 500+ Leigh pelagic 17th; 200+ Hauraki Gulf/Tiritiri 18th; 30+ from Tiritiri 19th and 20+ ferry from Tiritiri to Auckland 20th.
37.Black shag (Great cormorant) Phalacrocorax carbo novaehollandiae (13, 4, 5) Two Sinclair Wetlands 24th Sept.; 1 Riverton, Southland 8th Oct.; 5 Ahuriri River 10th and 5 Lake Ellesmere 11th.
38.Pied shag P.varius (35+, 9, 10+) This species has a disjointed distribution and is not found between Banks Peninsula and the Nuggets on the east coast of South Island and hence was not seen from Boulder Beach area. Three Kaikoura 9th Sept. with 8 there 10th; 10+ at a small colony at Deep Bay, Stewart Is. 6th Oct.; 2 Stewart Is. 7th; 4 Kaikoura 13th and 2 there 14th; 2 Mangere sewage works 15th; 2 Gulf Harbour 18th and 2 Tiritiri 20th.
39.Little black shagP.sulcirostris (1, 1, 1) A single was with two little pied shags on the riverbank at Island Block Rd. nr. Meremere 15th Oct. Two other distant shags in a tree and some distant shags at Mangere Sewage Works 15th may well have been this species.
40.Little pied shagP.melanoleucos (140+, 21, c40) Found throughout NZ, often on sheltered coastal bays and freshwater though still regularly seen at the coast. Six Kaikoura 9th Sept. with 4 there 10th; 3 Boulder Beach 13th with 1 there 15th and 16th; 30+ Otago Harbour mainly around Portobello 17th; 4 Boulder Beach 19th and 20th; c40 at a breeding colony Sinclair Wetlands 24th and 25th; 3 Boulder Beach 29th. Two Papatowai 3rd Oct.; 2 Waikawa harbour 4th; 4 Stewart Is. 5th; 2 Awarua wetlands 7th; 2 Riverton 8th; 1 Lake Gunn, Fiordland 9th; 30+ L.Ellesmere 11th; 1 Kaikoura 13th and 14th and 2 Island Block Rd. nr. Meremere 15th .
41.Stewart Island (bronze) shagP.chalconotus (236+, 17, 100+) Both pied and bronze forms were seen throughout its range. Up to 30 seen almost daily from Boulder Beach with 50+ Taiaroa Head 17th Sept. where breeding; also daily around Southland and Stewart Is. coasts with 100+ breeding on one of the Muttonbird islands 6th Oct.
42.Spotted shag P.punctatus punctatus (1100+, 16, 100s) Numerous around South Island, especially around Kaikoura where large flocks flew past the peninsula at dusk and Taiaroa Head where there is a large breeding colony. 200+ Kaikoura 9th Sept. with 45+ there 10th then seen regularly in small numbers past Boulder Beach. Hundreds breeding at Taiaroa Head 17th and 22nd. 100+ at the Nuggets 3rd Oct. and c10 Stewart Is. 6th . Seen again at Kaikoura 12th - 14th Oct. Not seen in the Hauraki Gulf.
43.Reef heron Egretta sacra (2, 1, 2) Two dark morphs were in the bay at Sandspit behind the Kawau Ferry ticket office 16th Oct.
44.White-faced heron Ardea novaehollandiae (87+, 17, 15+) Encountered frequently in small numbers at coast and freshwater areas beginning with a single at Kaikoura 9th Sept. and 9 from road on drive to Dunedin 10th. Six were around Portobello on the Otago Peninsula 17th and 8 Hooper's Inlet 19th; 2 Sinclair wetlands 24th; up to 10 at scattered localities from Otago to Kaikoura 3rd - 14th Oct. In North Island c15 Mangere/ Meremere 15th and 7 between Miranda and Sandspit 16th.
45.Royal spoonbillPlatalea regia (75, 4, 41) Seven flew past the Nuggets 3rd Oct., they breed nearby; 22 were at the north end of L.Ellesmere 11th; 32 were seen distantly at Mangere sewage works and 9 over Miranda 15th with 5 in a field at Miranda 16th.
46.Cape Barren gooseCereopsis novaehollandiae (3, 2, 3) Three, 2 together and a third about a mile up the road, were in roadside fields north of Cheviot along Highway 1 9th and the pair were seen again in the same area 10th. These were not clearly captive birds but were probably feral.
47.Canada goose Branta canadensis (560+, 6, 500+) 500+ were at the north end of L.Ellesmere 10th Sept.; 2 Sinclair Wetlands 24th and 25th; 1 Moruroa and 1 L.Gunn, Fiordland 8th Oct.; 16 Lake Gunn 9th and 40+ L.Ellesmere 11th.
48.Mute swanCygnus olor (6, 2, 3) Three L.Ellesmere 10th Sept. and 3 at the other end of the lake 11th Oct.
49.Black swanC.atratus (c2000, 14, 1000+) 100+ L.Ellesmere 10th Sept., hundreds in Otago Harbour 17th; 3 Hooper's Inlet 19th; 6 Sinclair Wetlands 24th and 3 there 25th; 3 south of Dunedin 3rd Oct.; 50+ Awarua Wetland 5th ; 9 flew south over Oban and hundreds were at Awarua Wetland 7th; 1000+ L.Ellesmere 11th; 3 Kaikoura 13th; 9 Miranda 15th - 16th and 10 on sea off Auckland 18th.
50.Paradise shelduckTadorna variegata (166+, 29, 30+) Seen almost daily throughout the trip in small numbers, usually pairs; often associated with grassland and small water bodies. Max 30+ in a field near Te Anau 8th Oct.
51.Grey tealAnas gibberifrons (282+, 5, 200+) Seen occasionally on larger water bodies, 64 Hooper's Inlet, Otago Peninsula, 19th Sept.; 6 Sinclair Wetlands 24th and 10 there 25th; 200+ L.Ellesmere 11th Oct. and 2 Mangere 15th . 52.Brown tealA.auklandica (1, 1, 1) A single female was in the dam behind the bunkhouse on Tirtiri 19th Oct. This regular bird is now being fed in an attempt to keep it from heading to the mainland with the other few that use the island. It was also found feeding near the lighthouse in the early hours of the morning. All of the birds on Tiri are of translocated stock.
53.MallardA.platyrhynchos Seen commonly throughout NZ.
54.Pacific black duck (Grey duck) A.superciliosa superciliosa (26, 4, c15) Apparently pure birds were seen as follows: 1 Mirror Lakes, Fiordland 9th Oct.; 8 Cass River, Mackenzie basin 10th; 2 L.Ellesmere 11th and c15, possibly some hybrids, Mangere sewage works 15th.
55.Australasian shovelerA.ryhnchotis variagata (845+, 6, 800+) c20 Sinclair Wetlands 24th Sept. with 10 there 25th; 4 surprisingly flew past Boulder Beach 30th; a single was on the Oreti River 8th Oct.; 800+ at the north end of L.Ellesmere 11th and c10 Mangere sewage works 15th.
56.New Zealand scaupAythya novaeseelandiae (269+, 6, c120) c120 were at Lake Forsyth, Banks Peninsula 10th Sept.; 50+ Sinclair Wetlands 24th and c30 there 25th; 4 Morurua 8th Oct.; c25 Mirror Lakes and L.Gunn 9th and c40 south end of L.Ellesmere 11th.
57.Australasian harrierCircus approximans gouldi (145, 32, 21) Seen almost daily throughout trip in most habitats, most common in farmland.
58.Brown quail Synoicus ypsilophorus (c28, 3, c10) Seen only on Tiritiri where introduced in 1860s, c8 18th, c10 19th and 20th Oct.
59.PheasantPhasianus colchicus (1, 1, 1) A single bird was on a roadside verge along Lindis Pass, Route 8, 10th Oct.
60.Californian quailCallipepla californica (10, 2, 5) Five were seen along the road to the Mount Fyffe car park near Kaikoura on both 12th and 13th Oct. but were believed to be different birds each day.
61.Wild turkeyMeleagris gallopavo (1, 1, 1) A single bird was wandering across fields near Firth of Thames 15th Oct. part of a feral population.
62.Stewart Island wekaGallirallus australis scotti (13, 2, 10) Seen only on Ulva Island where 3 6th and 10 7th Oct. Incredibly tame and approachable there were several birds calling loudly on 7th initially making me think of kiwi.
63.Pukeko Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus (c153, 15, 40+) First noted 10th Sept. with c10 around L.Ellesmere . Two Sinclair Wetlands 24th and 25th then seen commonly near freshwater Southland to Auckland area. Very numerous on Tiritiri with 40+ 18th Oct.
64.TakaheNotornis mantelli (13, 3, 5) Seen only on Tiritiri where there is a translocated population. Birds are completely approachable and often chase the ATV or grab hold of your trousers. Despite this, they are superb birds, anything considered extinct for so long has to be special.
65.South Island pied oystercatcherHaematopus finschi (1000+, 15, 00s) Two were on the wave platform at Kaikoura 9th and 10th Sept. along with H.unicolor then 5 Otago Harbour 17th; 40+ Papatowai 3rd Oct.; c200 Waikawa Bay 4th and seen commonly in low numbers at coast around S.Island. Hundreds at Miranda 15th and 16th.
66.Variable oystercatcherH.unicolor (113, 30, c10) Mostly black phase seen commonly in small numbers around both South and North Island with two, quite aggressive, pairs on Boulder Beach.
67.Pied stilt Himantopus leucocephalus (c500, 10, c190) Four were at Kaikoura on the wave platform 9th Sept.; 21 Hooper's Inlet 19th then seen commonly around Southland mostly in low numbers but c190 including a flock of 167 at the north end of L.Ellesmere 11th Oct. On North Island 150+ were at Mangere and Miranda 15th and c100 Miranda 16th
68.Black stiltH.novaezelandiae (2, 1, 2) Two immatures were seen very well on the Ahuriri River downstream of the road bridge, north of Omarama, 10th Oct. They showed solidly black flanks and upperparts with variable white mottling on the neck and breast and through the central belly and vent to the undertail coverts. Both were aggressively defending their feeding area against a pair of pied stilts and one bird was colour banded. I later visited staff at the Kaki breeding center near Twizel and found out that these were recently released birds. There are currently c70 adults in the wild and the project aims to bring in all eggs from the wild for incubation and rearing before release as immatures. More than 100 immatures have now been released and it is expected that many more will be reared and released in coming years
Pied x black stilt A single hybrid adult was seen on the Ahuriri River 10th Oct.
69.Masked lapwingVanellus miles Seen commonly throughout NZ, very vocal and often dive-bombing if I was too close to nests or young. Noted on 25 days, max c20.
70.Pacific golden ploverPluvialis fulva (1, 2, 1) A single moulting adult was on the stilt pools at Miranda Naturalists Reserve on both 15th and 16th Oct.
71.New Zealand dotterelCharadrius obscurus (3, 2, 3) Three, a pair including a very brightly coloured male and a single non-breeding plumage bird were in front of the hide at Miranda Naturalists Reserve 15th Oct. and the male was also present 16th.
72.Double-banded plover C.bicinctus (137+, 6, 100+) Breeding commonly on braided riverbeds of the Mackenzie Basin 10th Oct. where numerous, very approachable and vociferous. Also L.Ellesmere, Embankment Road 11th; Kaikoura beach near harbour and whale watch centre 12th to 14th and 1 Miranda 15th.
73.Black-fronted ploverC.melanopus (5, 1, 5) Five, two pairs and a single bird, were on the Oreti river near Branxholme 8th Oct. This is an awkward site to find. Follow Route 6 north of Invercargill to Lochiel then take Lochiel - Northope road to left which comes to a road bridge over the Oreti, this is worth checking out. Instead of crossing the river, follow the minor road to the south along the east bank. Come to a crossroads on the Lochiel - Branxholme Road, opposite the Wilson Crossing Road there is a dirt track marked "No Exit", cross a narrow ditch with white wooden fences and c400m beyond this is a "Private, No Entry" sign. Park at the sign and the river is inconspicuously in front of you. I spoke to the landowner and he is happy for people to walk along the bank birding as long as you do not drive. I saw the plovers within a minute of arriving. Wonderful little birds, all the better in flight, reminiscent of a miniature stone curlew in wing pattern.
74.Wrybill Anarhynchus frontalis (360+, 3, 250+) First seen on breeding grounds at the Ahuriri and Cass Rivers in Mackenzie Basin 10th Oct. where very approachable and noisy then c50 Mangere and c200 Miranda 15th and c100 Miranda 16th feeding and roosting on exposed mud.
75.Black-tailed godwitLimosa limosa melanuroides (1, 1, 1) A single winter plumage bird, very small and dark, was being harassed by eastern bar-tails on the shell bank in front of the hide at the Miranda Naturalists Reserve 15th Oct.
76.Eastern bar-tailed godwitL.lapponica baueri (3380+, 6, 3000+) c70 Waikawa Bay 4th Oct.;100+ rather distantly Awarua Wetlands 5th and 30+ there 7th; c50 Riverton 8th; 200+ Mangere 15th and c3,000 at the high tide roost Miranda 15th and 16th.
77.Terek sandpiper Xenus cinereus (1, 2, 1) A single bird was at Miranda 15th and 16th Oct. Initially appearing to associate with wrybills on the stilt pools it then joined the flock of bar-tails and knot on the shell bank on the evening of 15th. On the 16th, it was present on the stilt pools though seemed rather independent of other species.
78.TurnstoneArenaria interpres (c62, 5, 20+) c15 Awarua Wetlands 5th and a single there 7th; 20+ were seen distantly at Riverton 8th Oct.; c20 Miranda 15th and 6 there 16th.
79.KnotCalidris canutus (1000+, 3, 1000+) Only seen at two sites c10 Riverton with 8th Oct. and c1,000 at the high tide roost at Miranda 15th and 16th.
80.Sharp-tailed sandpiperC.acuminata (7, 2, 7) Much searched for and eventually found at Mangere sewage works 15th Oct. where four were seen from the road to the south. At Miranda three "winter" adults were seen on the stilt pools at high tide on 15th and 16th ; these latter birds were very close and afforded a thorough grilling for several hours on each tide.
81.Red-necked stintC.ruficollis (2, 2, 2) Two adults, one moulting from breeding plumage and the other in complete winter plumage, were on the stilt pools at Miranda on both 15th and 16th.
82.Southern (Brown) skuaCatharacta antarctica lonnbergi (9, 2, 8) Eight birds were seen from the Stewart Is. pelagic 6th Oct. including a pair nesting on a stack near Bench Is. and several birds coming in close to the boat to eat the chum. All of these birds were in immaculate plumage as would be expected at the beginning of the breeding season. However, an unexpected bird in the Hauraki Gulf from the Leigh pelagic 17th was in heavy moult though didn't stay long enough around the boat to allow further details to be noted.
83.Arctic skuaStercorarius parasiticus (2, 2, 1) A single was chasing white-fronted terns off Goat Island 16th Oct. and another passed Tiritiri 19th Oct.
84.Kelp gull Larus dominicanus Seen daily though only a single 9th Oct. whilst in the Homer Tunnel/Eglinton Valley area. Otherwise ubiquitous along shorelines, following boats and in farmland fields.
85.Red-billed gull L.scolpulinus Seen daily except 9th Oct. whilst in the Homer Tunnel/Eglinton Valley area.
86.Black-billed gullL.bulleri (1169+, 7, 1000+) This beautiful gull was first seen 3rd Oct. when 33 were at the river mouth at Papatowai; then 14 Waikawa 4th; 2 Awarua Wetlands 5th; a very impressive 1,000+ were in a breeding colony on the Mararoa River, Fiordland, 8th; only 2 on the braided rivers of the Mackenzie Basin 10th; 18 L.Ellesmere 11th; a roost of 100+ were on the shingle ridge at Miranda on both 15th and 16th.
87.Black-fronted ternChildonias albostriata (101+, 5, 90+) A single was seen from the Kaikoura pelagic 9th Sept. then 1 passed Taiaroa Head 17th. Not seen again until 8 were on the Oreti River north of Incvercargill 8th Oct. and 90+ breeding on the braided rivers of the Mackenzie Basin 10th. Finally, a single flew along the south beach at Kaikoura 12th.
88.Caspian ternSterna.caspia (38, 7, c25) A single flew along the shore at Kaikoura 10th Sept. this species was then not seen again until 3 were at the Awarua Wetlands 7th Oct.; a single was on the Oreti River 8th and c25 around L.Ellesmere 11th. A single was on the shingle ridge at Miranda 15th with three there the next day and two from Goat Island also 16th. Finally, two were on the gravel island off Tiritiri 20th.
89.White-fronted ternS. striata Very common and widely distributed, often forming flocks of several hundred gathered on shoreline rocks and beaches. Noted on 27 days max c300 Miranda 16th Oct.
90.New Zealand pigeon Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae (74, 9, 25) Seven were seen whilst driving out to Akaroa, Banks Peninsula, 10th Sept. A single was in gardens in Dunedin 2nd Oct.; following another single in Dunedin a flock of c30 were at Puketiro 3rd. On Stewart Is. there were 5 5th; a single 6th and 25 7th ; a single was in Leigh harbour 16th and on Tiritiri there were 2 18th and a single 19th.
91.Feral pigeon Columbia livia Refreshingly scarce, away from settlements, this may have been the first trip I've been on where they were not seen daily. Only other habitat where regularly found was braided riverbeds.
92.Spotted dove Streptopelia chinensis (c10, 1, c10) Seen only near Mangere sewage works 15th Oct. with birds present along Island Rd. and in surrounding fields to south.
93.KeaNestor notabilis (7, 1, 7) Initially difficult to locate as there were few tourists around the various car-parks between The Divide and Milford Sound so the numerous "Do not feed the Kea" signs were redundant and irritating. Heard birds calling and saw silhouettes high above Gertrude Valley during a three hour walk before one came and landed in the car-park as I was about to drive off. It seemed like the usual encounter with the kea trying to get in the boot, into the car and then having a go, half-heartedly, at the window seals. Two more were wandering around the cars at the entrance to Homer Tunnel looking menacing! All seen 10th Oct.
94.KakaN.meridionalis (c30, 5, c15) Numerous on Stewart Island, constantly shrieking and flying around over Oban and in the forest on Ulva Island where they would often come very close; this is one of the few populations not in rapid decline. c15 Stewart Is. 5th ,6th and 7th Oct. A single was heard at Te Anau and I saw the silhouette of a Kaka/Kea over Cascade Creek, Eglinton Valley 8th. A single was at the Chasm on the Milford Sound road 9th.
95.Eastern RosellaPlatycercus eximius (2, 1, 2) Two were calling loudly then flew out of a tree along the cliff-top walk at Goat Island 16th Oct.
96.Yellow-crowned parakeet Cyanoramphus auriceps (3, 2, 2) Frustratingly I only heard this species. Despite seeing large numbers of parakeets very well around Oban on Stewart Island all were red-crowned. I heard two parakeets calling along the Gunn Lake walk in the Eglinton Valley 8th and another calling in the same area 9th Oct. where only yellow-crowned occur but I was unable to see them in the tops of the trees.
97.Red-crowned parakeetC.novaezelandiae (93+, 6, 30+) Numerous and easily seen on Stewart Island and Tiritiri where often located by their chattering call. Feeding much lower in the vegetation than yellow-crowneds and often on the ground makes finding red-crowneds straight forward. Two birds, one on Ulva Island and another on Tiritiri, showed a yellow upper edge to the red crown feathers. However, both also had the red eye stripe extending beyond the eye and were certainly not C. auriceps. Two parakeets were seen in flight only near Acker's Point, Stewart Island, 5th Oct. and though not specifically identified were probably this species. Three were seen well on Ulva Island 6th; c15 were about Oban and 10+ on Ulva Island 7th. On Tiritiri this species was both numerous and very visible 15+ 18th, 30+ 19th and 20+ 20th.
98.Shining cuckooChrysococcyx lucidus (1, 1, 1) Only a single was heard calling on Tiritiri 20th Oct. I undoubtedly missed this species in other locations due to a lack of familiarity with the call.
99.Long-tailed cuckoo Eudynamys taitensis (1, 1, 1) A bird was heard calling several times from the woodland opposite the Mirror Lakes boardwalk in the Eglinton Valley 9th Oct.
100.Morepork Ninox novaeseelandiae (1, 1, 1) A single bird was heard calling at dawn from the bunkhouse on Tiritiri 19th Oct. and another was heard moving about in a hollow tree nest site also on Tiritiri 20th. There was a sorry sight of several colour rings below the nest hole from two stitchbirds and two NZ robins including the leg of a stitchbird still showing the colour combination!
101.Little owl Athene noctua (1, 1, 1) A bird was heard calling from trees at Boulder Beach 30th Sept.
102.Sacred kingfisherHalcyon sancta (17, 10, 4) Seen occasionally throughout the trip, often sitting on wires either on the coast or along woodland edges. Two were on wires on the Kaikoura peninsula and another two near Akaroa 10th Sept.; 1 nr. Portobello 16th; 1 Hooper's Inlet 19th; 1 on the woodland edge along the Greenacre trail to McAndrew's Bay 29th; 1 whilst driving through the Catlins 3rd Oct.; 1 from car on route from Kaikoura to Christchurch 14th; 3 between Mangere sewage works and Miranda 15th; 3 Tiritiri 18th and 1 there 19th and 20th.
103.Rifleman Acanthisitta chloris (17, 2, 10) One of the species of the trip like a dazzling, long-billed, phylloscopus warbler mixed with a hint of treecreeper, full of character. I made several attempts to find riflemen on the Otago Peninsula near Hooper's Inlet 19th Sept. and at Larnach Castle 28th but without success and so only saw them in the Eglinton Valley, Fiordland. Four were seen and another 6 heard at L.Gunn 8th Oct. Three were in scrub along the early part of the Gertrude Valley and four at L.Gunn 9th.
104.SkylarkAlauda arvensis Present on any area of open ground and very common in farmland areas.
105.Welcome swallow Hirundo tahitica (250+, 19, 50+) Seen regularly in small numbers throughout the trip often close to water. Most numerous at Mangere and Miranda 15th-16th Oct. where 50+ and on Tiritiri with 20-50 daily.
106.Silvereye Zosterops lateralis (320+, 29, 70+) First seen in the garden of a hostel in Kaikoura 10th Sept. where I was surprised by how attractive it looked and how it reminded me of the colourful wood warblers of N.America. The species is very common and found throughout NZ, always calling and often in quite large flocks. Seen almost daily, though less commonly in N.Island, with a flock of 70+ in Portobello 17th Sept. being the highest count.
107.North Island fantailRhipidura fuliginosa placabilis (19, 4, 8) Two were in scrub at Mangere 15th Oct. and on Tiritiri there were 8 18th, 4 19th and 5 20th all, as expected, were pied phase.
108.South Island fantail R.f.fuliginosa (23, 9, 5) First noted in Portobello 17th Sept. and then seen in low numbers at various sites, only three were black phase.
109.South Island tomtitPetroica macrocephala macrocephala (17, 4, 7) Seen only on Ulva Island and in Fiordland where typically inquisitive and approachable. Three Ulva Island 6th Oct. and 6 there 7th including a female nest building. A male was at L.Gunn 8th ; 6 along the Gertrude Valley and 1 L.Gunn 9th.
110.North Island robinP.australis longipes (16, 2, 11) seen only on Tiritiri where not seen 18th Oct. but 11 19th and 5 20th.
111.South Island robin P.a. australis (2, 1, 2) Singles were seen at the Divide, singing, and L.Gunn 9th Oct.
112.Stewart Island robin P.a. rakiura (1, 1, 1) The first passerine I saw on Ulva Island 6th Oct. was a puzzle as it appeared to be a robin. However, "Chambers" clearly stated that this species wasn't present on the island. This is a recent translocation project and typically the bird wore lots of colourful jewelry.
113.South Island fernbirdBowdleria punctata punctata (1, 1, 1) A single bird was seen extremely well after listening to it walking through the dry vegetation at Sinclair Wetlands 25th Sept.
114.Brown creeperMohoua novaeseelandiae (c65, 2, c50) Seen only on Ulva Island where very common; c15 6th Oct. and c50 7th.
115.WhiteheadM.albicilla (c50, 3, 30+) Seen only on Tiritiri where common; 30+ 18th and 19th then 20+ 20th Oct.
116.Grey warblerGerygone igata (182+, 31, 15+) Following a single in willows at Lake Forsyth, Banks Peninsula, 10th Oct., which showed the most astonishingly instant reaction to pishing that I've ever seen, the species was encountered, often singing, in any stand of bushes, scrub, woodland or garden. Widespread and common.
117.Song ThrushTurdus philomelos Seen daily except 9th Oct. whilst in the Homer Tunnel/Eglinton Valley area. Often very numerous.
118.Blackbird T.merula Seen daily, often very numerous.
119.Dunnock Prunella modularis Seen daily whilst in South Island where incredibly common even at altitude. Much less common on North Island and not noted after 14th
120.New Zealand pipitAnthus novaeseelandiae novaeseelandiae (6, 4, 3) A single was in salt marsh vegetation at the end of the road at Awarua Wetlands 7th Oct.; 1 along the Gertrude Valley 9th; 3 much more approachable birds were on the Cass River 10th and 1 calling in flight at the north end of L.Ellesmere 11th.
121.Stitchbird Notiomystis cincta (27, 3, c12) Seen only on Tiritiri where numerous along bush walks and as with many NZ species very confiding, often great battles going on between males. Was shown eggs and young in nest boxes by researcher. At the moment none of the translocated populations are considered to be self-sustaining without continued management. In particular the provision of nectar in tui-proof feeders is very important.
122.Bellbird Anthornis melanura (200+, 22, c40) A single was seen at Akaroa 10th Sept. Very scarce at Boulder Beach though common in the scrub along the Highcliff Rd. of the peninsula. Seen regularly in small numbers throughout the rest of the trip; most numerous on Tiritiri where 30 - 40 seen daily.
123.Tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae Very scarce away from Stewart Is. and Tiritiri where incredibly numerous. A single was in a garden at Pukehiki on the Otago Peninsula 19th Sept.; on Stewart and Ulva Islands 5th-7th Oct. it was impossible to estimate numbers, there were often up to 10 in a single tree. Singles were at L.Gunn 8th and 9th and Goat Is. 16th. Uncountable on Tiritiri 18th-20th.
124.Greenfinch Carduelis chloris Not particularly common though numerous in farmland especially north of Invercargill 8th Oct. Recorded on eight dates.
125.Goldfinch C. carduelis Fairly common and widespread. Recorded on 22 dates
126.Lesser redpollC.caberet Fairly common in fields between Boulder Beach and Seal Point then seen in small numbers throughout rest of trip. Not on Tiritiri. Recorded on 17 dates.
127.ChaffinchFringilla coelebs Common and widespread. Seen daily except for 17th, 19th and 20th Oct. only a single on Tiritiri 18th Oct.
128.YellowhammerEmberiza cintinella Common and widespread.
129.House sparrowPasser domesticus Common and widespread especially around habitation.
130.StarlingSturnus vulgaris Common and widespread
131.Indian mynaAcridotheres tristis (200+, 6, c100) Only present in North Island where common in suburban and rural areas; common on Tiritiri.
132.Australian magpieGymnprhina tibicen Seen almost daily throughout though not on Tiritiri. Almost exclusively white backed form.
133.North Island saddlebackPhilesturnus carunculatus rufusater (90+, 3, 40+) Seen only on Tiritiri where very common, impossible to count and impossible to miss occurring throughout the island and a great translocation success.
134.South Island saddlebackP.c.carunculatus (1, 1, 1) A single juvenile, without saddle, was on Ulva Island 6th Oct. near Sydney Bay.
135.North Island KokakoCallaeas cinerea wilsoni (7, 2, 5) Seen only on Tiritiri. A pair was watched closely at dawn near the Wattle track, the male singing for a while then, as both began to feed he was seen feeding the female 19th Oct. In heavy rain at dawn 20th none could be found. However, later in the morning, once I got tuned into the call, I located five individuals at various places between the Wattle and Karewera tracks including a male which landed on the boardwalk along the Wattle track only a meter or so away and just after I'd taken my last photo!