On our way to the UK we had a stop-over in Dubai for a couple of days, and we took the opportunity to go our birding with a local guide from UAE Birding. We had an excellent day out, getting over 70 species and adding some new ones to our lifelist. This included the Cream-coloured Courser shown above. They don’t have many endemics, but it is easy to find a wide range of species quite close to the city.
Another rare bird from our recent South Island trip, Dianne and I found a pair of Black Stilt feeding in a small lake near Lake McGregor and Lake Tekapo. This is near the natural breeding grounds for Black Stilt, of which there are about 100 pairs.
Dianne and I had a holiday in Queenstown, so we took the opportunity to look for Rock Wren at the well known Homer Tunnel site. On the Te Anau side of the tunnel there is a small carpark on the right hand side, and currently there seem to be two pairs of Rock Wren in the area. We had good views of one pair for a few minutes, before they headed off into the rocks. Both birds were banded, and it was good to see DoC traps in the area for predators. Rock Wren are uncommon, and only found in the South Island alpine areas, much of which is quite hard to access.
The introduction of Rifleman into Zealandia was curtailed because the numbers of birds in the Eastbourne area are down. So it is good to see that there are some birds breeding. I watched a pair of birds taking grubs to their nest in a dead tree above Days Bays. It is always hard to get a good photo of these little birds as they flit around in the canopy.
A group of us visited Foxton Beach today, and Lake Omanu. Generally, we thought that waterfowl numbers were down on Lake Omanu, though there are always plenty of Canada Geese. We did find two White Heron there. On Foxton Beach there was a Red-necked Stint feeding with the Wrybill (about 17 Wrybill). It is a bit early for Stints to appear, and this individual had plenty of red breeding plumage around the neck.
On Saturday we had a lovely day on Kapiti Island. The beach area has Bellbirds, Red-crowned Parakeets and NZ Pigeons feeding in the sun on the low bushes. We followed the Wilkinson track up to the trig (about a 2 hour walk) with plenty of Kaka, Robin, Saddleback, Stitchbird, Whitehead and Tui on the way up. There are Weka (Western, not the NI subspecies) in the bush and a good view from the top. We didn’t see or hear any Kokako, which are more likely to be seen on the Trig track which we were discouraged from going up. The day spoilt only by the efforts of Kapiti Island Nature Tours, the ferry operator. One of the reasons I haven’t been for a few years has been the escalating costs of the visit, and the fact they really want you to do a half day tour or stay overnight at the top end (which is REALLY expensive). On arrival at the island you are subjected to a compulsory 30+ minutes history talk about the island – it is very interesting to hear about the whalers once or twice, but I’ve heard the story so many times I don’t need to hear it again. Why can’t they deliver a safety briefing on the ferry ride across and then let you go see the birds when you arrive? I’ve decided that I prefer Tiritiri Matangi.
About 20 Fernbirds have recently been released at Pauatahanui wetlands near Porirua. We found two pairs today. They are quiet birds that spend most of their time well hidden in the reeds, but they aren’t really shy of humans and with patience you can see them flit between bushes. These birds are banded and are being monitored closely.