Trip Report and Annotated List: New Zealand and Chatham Islands Nov 12-Dec 9, 2013
Ross Silcock, NZ Land & Pelagic Bird Tours
Nov 12: Puketutu Causeway, Muriwai Beach, wenderholm Park, Waiwera Sewage Lagoons, Straka's Lagoon, Waiwera Beach.
Nov 13: Tawharanui Reserve, Ormiston Road Pond, Wairoa River, Trounson Forest.
Nov 14: Waipoua Forest, Wairoa River, Mangawhai Estuary, Waipu Estuary.
Nov 15: Hauraki Gulf Pelagic, Matakana Rd.
Nov 16: Tiritiri Matangi Island.
Nov 17: Tiritiri Matangi Island, Miranda.
Nov 18: Whangamarino Swamp; Whitianga Pelagic.
Nov 19: Pureora Forest.
Nov 20: Wairakei, Turangi, Pohangina Totara Reserve.
Nov 21: Hokowhitu Lagoon, Foxton Beach, Manawatu Estuary, Lake Horowhenua, Otaki Sewage Ponds, Wellington Harbour, Cook Strait, Marlborough Sounds.
Nov 22: Blumine Island, Renwick, Grasmere Salt Ponds, Kaikoura Postman's Road.
Nov 23: Kaikoura Pelagic, Kowhai Bush, Kaikoura.
Nov 24: St Anne's Lagoon, Ashley Estuary, Arthur's Pass Village, Hokitika Sewage Ponds, Okarito Forest.
Nov 25: Fox Glacier, Haast Pass.
Nov 26: Homer Tunnel, Hollyford River, Lake Gunn Trail.
Nov 27: Milford Sound Cruise.
Nov 28: Te Wae Wae Bay; Wakapatu Beach, Bluff Harbour, Foveaux Strait Ferry, Ulva Island, Ocean Beach Kiwi Trip.
Nov 29: Half Moon Bay, Bench Island, Big Reef Pelagic.
Nov 30: Foveaux Strait Ferry, Shag Point, Bushy Beach.
Dec 1: Lake Poaka, Glentanner, Mt John, uataniwha Wetland.
Dec 2: Cooper's Lagoon.
Dec 3: Waitangi, Chatham Islands.
Dec 4: Awatotara River, Waitangi West Beach, Te Whaanga Lagoon, Hapupu.
Dec 5: Mangere Island, South East Island, Pyramid, Pyramid Pelagic.
Dec 6: Waitangi.
Dec 7: Ocean Mail Reserve, Te Whaanga Lagoon, Horns Pelagic.
Dec 8: Sweetwater Covenant.
Nov 12 (Tuesday):
Plan was for me to drop my rental car at the airport and collect the three 7.15 am arrivals from LA-
Terry, Sandy, and Lois. The plane was on time but the very particular customs service finally released
them around 8 am. As we left to go to the parking lot to meet Sav, here he came with the others, whom
he had rounded up at the 2 motels. Perfect timing! We loaded at the bus stop which got the security
folks a bit excited; a policeman actually took a cell phone pic of the van’s registration. Maybe we’ll get a
call soon! Anyway, we headed off for a leisurely first day; first stop, of course, the Mangere Sewage
Works, great for waterfowl and shorebirds etc, then to the amazing gannet colony at Muriwai,
Wenderholm Park, Waiwera Sewage Lagoons (of course), Straka’s Refuge, and Waiwera Beach. Group
was getting bit tired, so we headed back around 4.30 and set up dinner for 6.30. Had fun at dinner at
Muldoon’s Irish Pub; I had a great burger with Portobello mushroom and a couple Speight’s Gold Medal
beers. As they say, hydration is important. Back to the room for the day’s list- pretty respectable 53,
including quite a few endemics and a Curlew Sandpiper. Divided up Sav’s grocery haul for breakfast and
decided to depart in the morning at 8 am, quite respectable, but we will be out late tomorrow looking for kiwi.
Nov 13 (Wednesday):
Leisurely start around 8 am. Headed north to Tawaharanui Reserve. Great predator-fenced place that
has a couple of very hard-to-get species elsewhere that are easy here. Pair of Banded Rails wandering
along the shore with their 2 black fluffy chicks and a nice group of Brown Teal. Brown Teal are beautiful
small ducks that are very susceptible to cats, stoats, etc but thrive in predator-protected areas. On to
Waipu Estuary for the critically endangered NZ Fairy Tern- only about 50 exist. We had pretty good
views of one on the estuary. On up into the hills for Australasian Little Grebe at Ormiston Road. The
pond owner has allowed shrubs to grow up between the road and the pond, so visibility is getting
worse. But after a few minutes a pair of the grebes appeared and we all saw them well. Strangely, no
NZ Dabchicks were seen, usually present here. Next on the list was a twitch for Sav- the Australian
Pelicans that have been hanging around the Wairoa River for about a year, between Dargaville and the
Kaipara Harbour. We checked all 5 access points, but no luck. Guess what we’ll be doing on our return
trip south tomorrow??? Luckily, I saw 2 at Ruawai on my way north a few days ago, so they are around
somewhere. Passed through Dargaville and on to the Holiday Park’s beautiful camping and cabin area
near Kaihu. It was truly a wonderful place to be. We went down to the Kaihu Pub, a traditional NZ Pub.
It was very quiet though, hardly any locals there, so we had our nice meal in peace! I had grass-fed beef
steak- very nice for a change from corn-fed. Might be the last beef I eat though- NZ fish is too good to
pass up! After dinner we took off around 8.15 pm to Trounson Forest Reserve for our kiwi search. Very
capable young lady Sara was our guide, and it’s clear that Dept of Conservation (DOC) is allowing her to actually
look for kiwi, rather than the canned walk that we hadn’t found kiwi on. We usually had to re-do the
walk ourselves, often meaning that we didn’t make it home until midnight ot later. However, Sara knew
her stuff and found us a cool male kiwi that stood around in the open for 5 mins, very unusual for a kiwi
in the bush. Folks were able to get good pics. Sav actually heard the bird walking in the litter just before
Sara did! A very happy group returned to the campground around 10.30 pm- earliest I’ve ever gotten
back from looking for kiwi! We divvied up breakfast supplies and called it a day.
Nov 14 (Thursday):
Very slow start after the kiwi night- did the list for yesterday, then left at 9.30 for a leisurely drive to Warkworth. But
first we went up to Waipoua Forest to see the giant Kauri tree Tane Mahuta. Still there! But what was
new was a young lady who did a handstand on top of the railing (just like the beam women do in the
Olympics) so her friends could get a photo. Quite spectacular! I’m sure she was an ex-gymnast (from
Europe it seemed from the language). Next stop was the wonderful Kauri Shop at Donnelly’s, near
Kaihu. The group dropped a few bucks there, to say the least. Had lunch at Dargaville then resumed the
twitch for Australian Pelican. Our first stop was Tokatoka, where we didn’t see them, but a guy was
mowing the lawn there and we asked him if he’d seen the “big white pelicans”. With his great Northland
Kiwi accent, he said “Yeah, big white pelicans. Saw them this morning, bro- just down the road where
there’s a picnic table, bro”. Sure enough there they were- we counted 7. Just as we counted them, they
flew down river out of sight. So- a tick for Sav!! He was pretty excited to be back ahead of his business
partner in Wrybill Tours, Brent Stephenson, by two! Next we headed over to Mangawhai, to see what
was around, but very little. We were hoping for a Fairy Tern, which we found a little later at Waipu; these are 2 of
the only 3 known breeding sites. On to Warkworth, where we landed at the Walton Park Hotel for a
two-nighter. I needed to do laundry, but needless to say the ladies got there first. But I’ll catch up-
maybe later tonight. Left for dinner at 6.30, but made a quick pass looking for Kookaburra before
dinner, but no luck. Had a delicious meal at our favorite Bridge House restaurant- had an entree (big
enough!) and dessert (I’m not saying what it was). Did the list and off to bed. Big boat trip tomorrow-
10 hours on the water! Trip list 65; no misses yet.
Nov 15 (Friday)
Got up at 6.30 am, ready for 7 am departure for breakfast in Warkworth (bacon, eggs, hash browns),
then on to Sandspit for 8 am departure with Brett Rathe, skipper of the great boat “Assassin”. Brett is
legendary for many things, but threw out a new one this morning- we assembled for his legally-required
Safety Talk, which consisted of “There are bugger all rules. Life jackets up there, and if I fall in, don’t
follow me.” As usual, he did an outstanding job chumming, skippering, etc. Weather was beautiful, but
not really breezy enough for the smell of the chum to carry very far and attract birds. Went out about 5
miles past the Mokohinau Islands, perhaps 35 miles out in all. We got all the expected species, including
9 NZ Storm-Petrels, considered extinct until re-discovered on a pelagic operated by Wrybill Birding Tours
(Sav’s company) in 2003. After 10 great hours on the water, ending with a good look at 2 wekas at the
Mansion House on Kawau, we did the 10-minute fresh-up, and back to the Bridge House for dinner
again. I had the roast pork belly, tasted better than it sounds, and a couple of Speights Old Dark beers.
Good stuff, that. Back to the room for this list update- now on 81, but haven’t got Kookaburra yet.
Hopefully we can knock it off first thing in the morning. If not, I suppose we’ll take one Ozzie bird, the
pelican, in place of another. Boat across to Tiritiri Matangi at 9.30 am, so should be a fun day and night
on the island.
Nov 16 (Saturday):
Left the motel in Warkworth and drove to the Gulf Harbor mall for breakfast and to pick up supplies for
Tiri. Usually we use a café beside the grocery store, but this time tried a different café. What a mess.
The folks took our breakfast orders, gave us each our number, then proceeded to bring out the
breakfasts as they were ready and called out the breakfast ie bacon, 2 eggs, etc. No-one remembers
exactly what they ordered, so a couple of breakfasts were eaten by the wrong persons and one had to
be re-ordered. Anyway, we finally got under way and barely made the ferry, which left at 10 am. Ride
over was good, only 30 mins and we were on Tiri. This is the only place on our trip where the overnight is
basic- most of us don’t even take a change of clothes, or even shower. We have sleeping bags (with new
inners!) and most of us slept in the bunkhouse (guys in one room, gals in another) with our clothes on.
A few of us slept outside- beautiful, but a bit damp from the dew. When we arrived we walked up to the
bunkhouse on Wattle Track, finding most of the common bush birds plus a couple of good looks at
Kokako- the island gem, a large blue-gray, nearly flightless crow-like bird that climbs up trees like a
squirrel then glides to the next tree. It has a haunting organ-like song. Wonderful. Got to the
bunkhouse and had delicious cheese and bread (NZ bread, NZ cheddar) for lunch. After lunch we still
needed Takahe and Spotless Crake, and of course Little Spotted Kiwi, which we will look for after dark.
We trudged the 3.5 mile round trip to the crake ponds at the north end of the island, ran into a couple
of Takahe, and bingo- a cooperative Spotless Crake showed us his red eye and legs and black plumage in
the sunlight- magical. So we (fairly) happily wandered back to the bunkhouse but were cheered by those
Chefs Extraordinaires, Saville and Silcock, who conjured up a delicious meal of barbecued lamb or
chicken breast, new potatoes, green salad, and some brand of Ozzie red wine. Satisfied and happy, we
prepared to go after the kiwi after dark, around 8.30 pm. We used the usual strategy of spreading out
along the road near the buildings (no more walking!), and waiting to hear some rustling sounds made by
a kiwi as it wanders around feeding. Well, we waited, and waited, until 2 hours later Sav flicked on his
light, we rushed over, and there was a kiwi in full view. Great bird for all, except the unfortunate 3 who
had tired of the whole exercise and turned in. Went to bed outside in the sleeping bag- beautiful clean
air. Couldn’t sleep for a while because my rugby-damaged hips were sore from the walk, but did get
some rest. Tiri is a magnificent place- not to be missed.
Nov 17 (Sunday):
Clean up day on Tiri. Mostly poked around looking for a few birds some folks had not seen or seen well; most folks wanted a better look at a Fernbird.
Walking down the road to the wharf we suddenly saw a loudly-singing Fernbird teed up on a twig giving the best views I
(and the group!) have ever had of this usually secretive species. Our water taxi arrived at 11.10 am and
hauled us rapidly back to Gulf Harbour, where we tried the inside café this time- almost as bad, but we
weren’t in a hurry, although we were pretty tired from Tiri. Off to Miranda, about a 90-min drive.
Arrived around 2.15 pm, settled into our nice lodgings at the Holiday Park, with about 2 hours of leisure
time before the high tide and shorebird time. I took a dip in the wonderful hot mineral pool, then
battled my computer; something weird going on with it- lost the daily blog I had almost finished.
Nothing for it but to re-do it (yesterday’s blog). At 4.30 pm we gathered and headed for the Stilt Pond
and hide at Miranda, always a very cool spot. Thousands of godwits, knots, oystercatchers, white-
fronted terns, and black-billed gulls. First birds we saw, at the Stilt Pond, were Wrybills, and the group
got good, close views of the strange rightward curved bills. With the Wrybills was the long-staying
Marsh Sandpiper, lifer for most, 5 Curlew and 6 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, and major surprise- a SHORE
PLOVER! We were able to read his leg bands, so it will be very interesting to see where he came from.
There are only about 250 Shore Plovers in existence, most on the Chatham Islands, but some have been
translocated, as this bird undoubtedly was, all of which are banded. On to the shell bank area, where
we picked up Ruddy Turnstone and Red-necked Stint, along with the colony of Black-billed Gulls, one of
only a couple of breeding colonies in the North Island of this usually South Island breeder. Sav, NZ’s top
birder, picked out a couple terns sitting beside the 2000 or so White-fronted Terns on the shellbank, and
we looked them over carefully, deciding that they were pretty obviously Common Terns (from Asia).
Great spot by Sav. Our remaining target was a breeding-plumaged bright orange Black-tailed Godwit
previously reported here. Sav and I assiduously searched for an hour or so through the 5000 or so Bar-
tailed Godwits with no success, until I finally spotted it. Great bird to see. Shades of the “wet godwit”
escapade where Sav and I were searching for a Hudsonian Godwit on the trip that Lyn was on, until we
pretty much gave up. But Lyn looked up from her book, said “what’s that brown one over there? It looks
wet.” It was the Hudsonian Godwit. How embarrassing for us so-called experts. Anyway, very happy
that we had found such an esoteric group of rare shorebirds, we headed for Kaiaua. We decided to
order fish and chips for the group from the National Champ F & C Shop, and while we were waiting,
went over to the pub next door and had a round of beers to celebrate. The F & C were ready, we picked
up a case of Speights, and headed back to the park to have dinner at a couple of picnic tables. Fabulous!
We did the lists for 2 days, doled out breakfast and set an 8 am departure- we’ll all need a good sleep
Nov 18 (Monday):
We left the enjoyable Miranda Hot Springs Holiday Park at 8 am and drove over to the Falls Road
overlook onto Whangamarino Swamp. There is a high point on the road which allows us to scope the
swamp from above, an unusual way to locate Australasian Bittern! We ended up finding two, one of
which gave everyone a good look. The group was needing coffee badly, so we stopped at Kopu and
solved that problem, getting back onto the road to Whitianga pretty quickly. Over to Whitianga, with a
stop at Tairua to look for Reef Heron, but no luck there or after we arrived at Whitianga around 12.15
pm. Quick check in to motel, grabbed some tearoom lunch, and onto the boat at 1pm for a boat trip for
Pycroft’s Petrel. The strategy is to go out to about 120-150 meters depth, chum for a while, look at
the many Cook’s Petrels going north past us, hopefully picking out a Pycroft’s or two, then going back in
towards Red Mercury Island where Pycroft’s breed, and then waiting as they return in the late afternoon. A
higher percentage of the petrels passing by here are Pycroft’s. This we believe is a good way to see
Pycroft’s, very difficult to separate from Cook’s Petrel at sea. The identification requires some
experience and so is hard to show a group how this is done, mostly ending up with “that’s one there, I
think”. Anyway, we usually end up with 2-3 birds that we think meet the criteria for Pycroft’s, after
perusing a hundred or more Cook’s/Pycroft’s types. New for our trip were the only albatross on the boat
trip, a White-capped, the Pycroft’s, 4 or so Grey-faced Petrels,a briefly-seen Sooty Shearwater, Aust.
Bittern, a Dunnock at the overlook on the way to Whitianga, and a nice bonus: the Reef Heron that flew
over the boat as we neared the harbor on our return around 7.15 pm. We disembarked and left for our
motel for the 10-minute spruce up and a nice dinner at Dino’s Italian Restaurant. Did the list, now at
109. At this stage we’re in the hunt, but it will be tough going. Only miss so far is Kookaburra, but we
replaced that with Aust Pelican.
Nov 19 (Tuesday):
Plan today was to drive from Whitianga the 3.5 hrs or so to Pureora, in the center of the North Island,
where the bush birds and the ancient forest with massive 2000-year-old trees are a sight worth seeing.
We arrived at Whakamaru Dam around noon, quickly picked up Eurasian Coot for the trip list, grabbed
lunch at the Dam Café (great name), and headed up to Pureora. Toughest bird here, and main target, is Long-tailed
Cuckoo, probably easier here than anywhere else. Just as we arrived, Sav heard one calling and we piled
out. Sav found the bird in a pine (they are very difficult to find due to their cryptic coloration and
streaks and habit of perching lengthwise on a branch). Sav got the scope on the bird, but it flew. After
checking the campground, where our cooler fell out of the back of the van, breaking 7 of our beer
bottles, leaving only 3 intact and 2 “injured”, a potentially serious happening, we continued to the
canopy tower area where we had great looks at a Kaka and tomtit, and then resumed the search for LT
Cuckoo. We had one calling at the end of Plains Road, but couldn’t find it in the trees. Sometimes they
fly out to check us out, but not this bird. After a quick look at old logs buried by the Taupo volcanic
eruption 2000 years ago, which flattened the forest and tells us that the current forest is 2000 years old,
we went back to the spot where we first heard the cuckoo. Sav played the tape and the bird immediately flew
out of the trees, calling vigorously, and hovered over us, giving us all the best look you could imagine.
Amazing. It started to rain pretty hard, so, our job done at Pureora, we drove to Taupo to spend the
night. We ate at the very good Jolly Roger (I had lamb shanks, delicious, and a nice Fuller’s beer), did the
list, and doled out breakfast (bagels, cream cheese, yoghurt, orange juice) for a 7.30 am start tomorrow.
With the 7 new trip birds today, we are at 116, pretty respectable and within reach of a record. Today’s
rain was the first we’d had; the weather has been amazingly pleasant. We’ll see what tomorrow brings!
Nov 20 (Weds):
We started the day in Taupo by going to a mountain bike course adjacent to the famous Wairakei Golf
Course just north of Taupo. Why a mountain bike course, you ask? Birders go to where the birds are, in
this case the iconic NZ Falcon, a bush falcon that has adapted to flying through forests, so has broader,
rounder wings for more maneuverability (wow, spell checker left that alone). We wandered around the
various trails and finally up popped the agitated pair, giving us great views. Back to the motel to pick up
our stuff, and we drove the 45 mins or so to the south end of Lake Taupo and searched a couple of
places along the Tongariro River, one virtually in the town of Turangi, where we found a single Blue
Duck, and then to the Red Hut Pool area where we found a pair. The male was remarkably aggressive,
chasing a male Mallard-Black Duck type around in large flight circles until the Mallard type disappeared.
Strangely, he didn’t bother a hen Mallard type with 3 ducklings poking around in his territory. So we had
great looks at 3 Blue Ducks and some insight into their daily life! Most Blue Ducks merely sit on a rock
while we get excited. Since we saw the Blue Duck so quickly, we decided to try for the Sulphur-crested
Cockatoos near Pohangina, in the Totara Reserve. Strangely, we didn’t hear or see any of these
normally obvious birds. We did tape out 2-3 very excited Shining Cuckoos, which put on a show for us,
as did an Eastern Rosella that sat out in the open for 15 minutes! There were also 2 falcons that flew
over- interesting at this location. Back to Palmerston North with a couple of free hours before we go to
Sav and Jodie’s for dinner! Dinner was awesome- roast lamb, new potatoes, salad, giant strawberries,
lemon cake, beer and wine. Fun time- a highlight of our trips. Huge thank you to Sav and Jodie for
putting this on. Back to the motel, doled out breakfast, and on to bed. Another great day.
Nov 21 (Thursday):
Hit the road at 8 am for a long day, ending on the South Island! We took a quick look at Hokowhitu
Lagoon in Palmerston North, a sure site for Mute Swan, but NO- first time ever we’ve missed this bird
here. We might pick it up later near Christchurch, though. Off to the excellent Manawatu Estuary,
where we hope for a NZ tick, the White-eyed Duck, a straggler from Australia that has been here a
while, along with golden-plovers and unusual terns. First stop the “White-eyed Duck pond”, and there
he was, too easy! Tide at the estuary was out, but rising quickly, so most birds were getting into roosting
mode and moving closer to the roost site near us. Found a tern that we carefully identified as a
Common, followed by a Little Tern. Soon the plovers showed up, 3 Pacifics and the putative American. Doing
well! We moved on to Levin and Lake Horowhenua, where there are very cool-looking Feral Chickens
that even look quite a bit like their Red Jungle-Fowl ancestors. Also a target here is Little Egret; one has
been hanging around. After quite a bit of scoping, Paul finally found the egret moving in and out of
rushes about a half mile away. The bird’s actions were typical of Little Egret, but we wanted a better
look, so drove down Hokio Beach Rd to access the south end of the lake. Walked up onto the marae and
there was the Little Egret! Good views had by all. Only one target remained- Black-fronted Dotterel at
the Otaki Sewage Ponds. Arrived there, scoped for a while, but no luck, until Sav suddenly said- there it
is- about 20 yards away! It had been sitting quietly in some brownish growth and was very hard to see.
Much relieved, we loaded up and headed for the ferry terminal at Wellington. The ferry was about an
hour late, and we sat around on the nearby rocks enjoying the sun, while managing a Spotted Shag (new
for the trip), and several Fluttering Shearwaters out in the harbor along with a giant-petrel. Trip over to
the South Island was very calm, with few seabirds, other than hundreds of Fairy Prions which came close to
the ferry for good looks. Did see Westland Petrel, new for the trip, though. Uneventful trip down to
Picton and docked at 7.30 pm. Over to the motel and our dinner reservation for 8 pm at the Old Barn.
Delicious dinner- I had roast pork, roasted and steamed veggies. Did the list, doled out breakfast, and
called it a day. Did collect 10 new birds, for a total of 127. Still on target for a record!
Nov 22 (Friday):
Ready to roll at 8.15 am- down to the dock for our cruise up Queen Charlotte Sound to look for King
Shag and some endemic South Island bush birds that are protected on a couple of predator-free islands,
Blumine and Motuara. We found King Shag easily at a small rock roost and headed for Blumine, where
Orange-fronted Parakeets have been re-introduced. These are very rare on the mainland- perhaps 200
survive. We arrived on Blumine, where the skipper drives the boat far enough up onto a sandy beach to put
down a ladder- no wet feet! The parakeets have been hanging around the landing area, so we had high
hopes. Unfortunately, there was no sign of them for about an hour until two shot past us at a high rate
of speed about head high. I saw that they were a bright emerald green, which is a good way to identify
them vs Yellow-fronted Parakeet, which is more yellow-green (and lives on Motuara Island, only about 2
miles away!) Sav and Candy managed a quick look later and actually saw the orange band across the
forehead. A highlight for me was to spot a single Yellowhead, a rare species just recently released on
Blumine. A couple of others in the group saw it too. Because it took so long to try to see the parakeets
well, we didn’t go to Motuara, but expect to see its specialty, South Island Saddleback, on Ulva Island.
Back to Picton after a look for Hector’s Dolphins without luck, grabbed lunch, and on to the the Black Kite
spot near Renwick. This single bird has been there for 18 years- must be getting lonely after being
blown over from Oz. Luckily we soon spotted it and it flew by us at a friendly distance, giving us all great
looks at likely the only Black Kite in NZ. We took off down the beautiful coast towards Kaikoura, with a
brief stop along the road by Grassmere Salt Ponds, where we picked up a Double-banded Plover. Next
stop was at the large NZ Fur Seal colony at Ohau Point. Quite a bit of colony life going on- young pups, a
large bull doing the rounds of his harem, etc. Quite interesting. Arrived in Kaikoura and had an hour or
two at our motel before checking for Cirl Bunting above Kaikoura on the peninsula. Saw a male on the
telephone wires, but before the group could get off the van he flew. We had a dinner reservation so had
to leave, planning to check the spot tomorrow. Dinner was wonderful- Thai cuisine. I had prawns and
cashews- anything with cashews I like, plus a Speights Old Dark beer. Doesn’t get much better than that.
After dinner, drove along Postman’s Rd and back and just as the light was fading, Terry spotted our
target, a Little Owl on a fence post. It gave us good looks, for a nice addition to our list. Just for that,
Terry bought the evening’s beers! List now at 134 right on target.
Nov 23 (Saturday):
This was the morning of the Kaikoura pelagic, usually an amazing spectacle of albatrosses right beside
the boat. We were skippered by Gary (Gaz) Melville, who is outstanding- really knows where to look for
the birds. Went out a short distance and parked by a fishing boat that had a few birds, including our first
Wandering Albies and Westland Petrels, but not much else. We then headed out a mile or so to another
fishing boat that had lots of birds around it. We picked up the 4 big albies, NZ Wandering, a
magnificent Snowy, and the two Royals. Also lots of Salvin’s and a couple of White-capped. Moved out
further to another fishing boat and hung around out there in deep water, finally picking up a Black-
browed adult (dark eyes etc), and big surprise, a Buller’s Albatross! The Buller’s alby acted just like they
do at the Chathams- swam beside the boat looking up at us like a dog begging. Very cool birds. Kaikoura
lived up to its reputation as the alby capital of pelagic birding. Also had a good number of White-chinned
Petrels out in the deep water. Got back to town and re-checked the Cirl Bunting spot but no luck. Ate
lunch at the fabulous fresh seafood grill on the way to the point of the peninsula. I had a delicious
whitebait fritter; some of the group had paua (abalone) fritters- delicious also. The group then took a
couple hours break for shopping etc. At 4.30 pm we took off for a look at Kowhai Bush at the end of
Schoolhouse Road and in minutes had attracted a couple of Brown Creepers (Pipipi), an endemic small
bush bird restricted to the South Island. Off then for another shot at Cirl Bunting at the spot we had the
male the day before and after an hour or so we were about to leave when Sav spotted a pair feeding on
some grass- most all of us got good looks at these elusive birds. Dinner was at Tutis, a nice restaurant
operated by an Indonesian family. I followed up on the prawn theme by having prawns in a delicious
sauce with rice. Very tasty. Back to the hotel, did the list, and doled out breakfast. List now at 143, still
on target to beat the record by one.
Nov 24 (Sunday):
This was a long driving day- some 560 km (345 miles) from Kaikoura down to near Christchurch, across
to Hokitika, and down to Franz Joseph Glacier (yes, that’s the name of the town as well as the nearby
glacier). Sav’s expert driving got us there in great time, with several productive stops. We drove first to
St Anne’s Lagoon and picked up a couple of the resident Cape Barren Geese (adult and youngster), and
then to the Ashley River Estuary, where Brent’s Wrybill Tours group a couple of days ahead of us had
found two rare shorebirds, a Whimbrel and a Far Eastern Curlew. After figuring out how to access the
estuary we were disappointed by the rising tide and some light fog that made viewing difficult. We
finally decided to bag it, even though these two birds would have put us up over Brent’s group by 3
species. As Sav says, it’s just a number! Yeah, right. Anyway, we headed inland and over the spectacular
Porter’s Pass road; the pass, although tussock- and matagouri-covered, is higher than Arthur’s Pass. We
arrived at Arthur’s Pass Village and immediately were treated to the Kea spectacle. Several were at the
restaurant where crowds of tourists were photographing them at point-blank range. One swooped in
and picked up one lady’s entire hot pie. The bird soon dropped it near our parked van, under which the
birds hid, darting out to grab a piece of the now-forlorn pie and eating it under the van. Kea are indeed
hilarious to watch, but they also count as a tick on our trip list. After finishing our own lunch, we headed
across the pass, pausing to admire the amazing engineering feat of the Otira Viaduct. On down to
Kumara Junction, where we turned south, heading for Hokitika and a stop at the greenstone (NZ jade)
store. Of course we had to stop first at the Hokitika sewage ponds just north of town; no rarities,
but a nice variety of waterbirds, including the long-staying Cape Barren Goose (an escapee) and a Weka.
After leaving Hokitika, we hammered down to Franz Joseph, arriving around 5.15, allowing us a bit of
free time before our 6 pm dinner reservation, after which we were to head out looking for kiwi. Dinner was
nice- I had spare ribs. After dinner we headed back towards Okarito and the parking lot where we met
Ian Cooper, the Okarito Kiwi (aka Rowi) expert. Ian is indeed a magician. He lines us up in a likely spot
on a well-formed track in a kiwi territory, then uses telemetry to give him an idea which direction a kiwi
is travelling and where it will pop out onto the track. He is uncanny. Tonight though, the bird
(Beaumont, the female of a nesting pair) headed straight north away from us so we hustled back down
the track and onto a side track that is graveled. Kiwi hear very well, and I thought we were doomed to
failure with 11 of us walking quickly and noisily along the gravel track following Ian. At one point he
whispered to me “I think we’ve lost her, Ross”. However, magician that he is, he suddenly stopped,
pointed his light at a spot, and there was the kiwi in full view, seen by all of the group but one. It
popped out onto the track, paused, and took off running up the track and around a corner. While we
were rushing along the track before seeing the kiwi there was thud behind me, and later I found out that
is was L---, who had toppled off into the vegetation (unhurt, thank goodness). The happy group returned
to the parking lot and thanked Ian profusely. We were back at our motel around 10.30 pm, likely a
record for finding an Okarito Kiwi! We’ll do the list tomorrow night (2 days’ worth), but tally is 152-
which is a good tally for a 21-day trip. I figure we still have 17 likely possibilities, for 169, a new record!
Nov 25 (Monday):
This was basically a travel day from Franz Josef Glacier to Wanaka, which worked out well as it rained
the entire drive down the West Coast. Still we were able to see the Fox Glacier, at least what is left of it,
from a little-used but signed road. The upper part looks great, but the bottom has pretty much melted
away. We made the usual stops at Hunt’s Beach and Knight’s Point, with great scenery at both,
including a well-populated seal colony in the distance at the latter. We stopped to enjoy the scenery at
Gates of Haast, and ran into a scary scene a little further up the hill. There was a sign back at Fox Glacier
that the highway through to Wanaka would be closed at 6 pm, and we could now see why. The section
of road in question traverses an essentially vertical cliff, and a couple weeks ago there had been a major
landslide, taking most of the road with it. Those amazing road guys had repaired it enough to open one
lane, and were allowing one vehicle by the bad spot at a time, making sure they hurried. When we went
through we stopped to look back and see what things looked like. There was a huge boulder perched precariously
above the road that actually had a lookout guy in a tent perched in the trees above it- the road crew was
apparently very worried that the boulder might come down. By its size, it will take the road out again
when it decides to fall. It looks to us as though they’ll have to blast it out, which would mean closing the
road entirely. Closing the road would be a major problem, as the next road across the mountains is
about 200 miles to the north! Lots of unaware or inattentive tourists would have to turn around,
essentially making a 400-mile detour! At the top of the Haast Pass we looked in the beautiful beech
forest for Yellowhead, but it was drizzling and rather cold, so the birds were not at all active. We cut our
losses and headed to Makarora for lunch, arriving around 2 pm, to find all the hot pies were gone! We
made do however and carried on down to Wanaka, arriving there at a very respectable time that let us
spend a couple hours relaxing before dinner. Went down to Ashraf’s Indian Restaurant, a block from
our motel. Ashraf and his wife operate the business themselves, specializing in Kashmiri cooking, and
receive rave reviews about the food, even from Kashmiris! I had Chicken Tikka Masala, delicious. The
food has been very good on this trip. Updated the list and gave out breakfasts. Planning on a 7 am start
for the drive down to Te Anau and our first attempt at NZ Rock Wren, usually the toughest bird on the
trip. The list is at 153, with 17 very likely species left, so the record is in jeopardy!
Nov 26 (Tuesday):
This being a punctual group, we headed out on time at 7 am, aiming for Te Anau with enough time to
give us a good first look for the iconic NZ Rock Wren. Drove up to Cardrona for photo ops at the famous
old hotel, then up to the overlook at the Crown Range peak. We could see Queenstown in the distance-
beautiful view from the lookout, which at 1076 meters is the highest point on a paved road in NZ. We
safely negotiated the hairpins on the descent into Frankton, where we turned south, thankfully avoiding
Queenstown itself. The drive to Te Anau was uneventful, and we arrived around noon. We picked up
lunch to go and zipped up the Milford Sound road, but only to Homer Tunnel, just above the tree line,
and the only place in NZ where one can drive to see NZ Rock Wren, which inhabits boulder fields on
mountain scree slopes. Because the area where they live was roped off due to rock fall concerns, we
stood at the barrier and waited, watching the rocks for sign of movement. After about an hour, one
popped up and performed in style for us, bouncing and bobbing on the tops of the rocks. It finally
disappeared after about 5 minutes- a great look for all! We headed back down the road towards Te
Anau and stopped along the Hollyford River and bingo- two Blue Ducks were sleeping on the rocks,
blending in almost perfectly- their backs are exactly the same color as the rocks. Rather unusual to see
Blue Duck on both North and South Islands. We saw a couple of Tomtits, showing their yellowish South
Island breasts (North Island birds are just black and white), and tried unsuccessfully at Lake Gunn
(Cascades) Trail and Kiosk Creek for Yellowhead. The beautiful green mossy beech forest was rather
quiet, with very little bird activity. Back to Te Anau around 5.30 pm. Dinner was at the Ming Restaurant,
where the Chinese food (a good variety of different dishes) is served on a turntable that we turn to get
the food we want. Very good- must have been, as there were a lot of (presumed) Chinese folks there.
Gave out breakfast, did the list. With only one new addition, but a key one, the NZ Rock Wren, list is now
Nov 27 (Weds):
Since we saw Rock Wren yesterday, today becomes mostly a sightseeing day, with the cruise out to the
mouth of Milford Sound (actually a fjord, as it was carved out by a glacier). We left the motel at 8 and
stopped to get lunch to eat later. Headed out for the 2-hour drive to Milford Sound, with first stop a
good view of the pretty Black-fronted Terns hawking over a pasture. Next was a short and unsuccessful
look at Knob’s Flat for bush birds- very quiet. We decided Cascade Creek (Lake Gunn Nature Trail) would
be best. Spent some time here looking for Yellowhead, and heard at least one singing for some time, but
could not see it. Just a couple of tantalizing quick flights, after which the bird seemingly disappeared.
Frustrating, but we should see them well on Ulva Island tomorrow afternoon. Did get great looks at a
Kaka and South Island Robins. Headed on up the Eglinton Valley, crossed the Divide into the Hollyford
Valley and ever upward to Homer Tunnel, site of the Rock Wren. We didn’t stop though, just waved. On
down the hill to Milford Sound, and onto the boat for a Nature Cruise. It was good, especially because
the skipper took some time looking for Fiordland Crested Penguin, a new trip bird. We saw only one,
and that very briefly, on rocks inside the sound. However the sea was calm, so we went out quite a way
into the ocean and had great looks at 2 bunches of Fiordland Crested Penguins (8 and 4) loafing on the
surface. Very good views had by all. Cruise ended around 4 pm, and we motored back to Te Anau,
observing some bewildering driving by a few obviously foreign tourists. One guy passed on a double
yellow line, took off like a rocket, then as he got to town, stopped in the middle of the highway. Oh well.
So a quiet day birdwise, but world-class scenery in perfect sunny weather. Adding the penguin brings
our list to 155, still with 15 reasonable possibilities, and a couple of good finds by Brent on his group’s
Stewart Island pelagic today heightened our anticipation!
Nov 28 (Thursday):
Thanksgiving Day! Well, actually tomorrow in the US. We didn’t celebrate or do anything different. Today we
drove from Te Anau to Bluff to catch the ferry to Stewart Island at 11 am. We had time with a 7 am start
to stop at Te Wae Wae Bay, where the resident Hector’s Dolphins (4-5 of them) showed well- you only get
to see the paddle-shaped dorsal fin usually. Very cool little things, but seriously endangered. Quick stop at Wakapatu Beach in
hopes of Arctic Tern yielded almost no terns at all, but there was a flock of Feral Geese swimming
around on the salt water. Arrived at the Bluff ferry terminal around 10.30 am, sorted our luggage for the
2-night stay on Stewart Island and left the rest in the van, parked in a secure lot near the terminal. We put our
bags in aluminum bins that the crew loads onto the back of the ferry, a large wide catamaran that really
moves. Foveaux Strait, normally fairly rough, was flat calm, really unusual. Saw a few good things going
over though: Brown Skua, Yellow-eyed Penguin (the ferry actually pulled over close to an island and I
managed to spot one at the back of the beach), and Stewart Shag. Ferry arrived in Oban around 12.15
pm, we grabbed our boxed lunches, ate them on picnic tables at our motel, then walked or rode over to
Glory Bay to catch a water taxi for the 5-minute ride to Ulva Island, another predator-free island. Ulva is
a refuge for endemic South Island birds, just as Tiritiri is for the North Island. Our main goal was South
Island Saddleback, and luckily a family was hanging around close to the wharf. We also wanted better
looks at Yellowhead which performed very well, giving the group great looks at these beautiful birds.
Good looks at Yellow-fronted and Red-crowned Parakeets as well as Brown Creeper were had by those
needing them. The water taxi came back to get us at 4.15 pm and we rested up until dinner at 6.30 pm
at the famous South Sea Hotel. I had battered blue cod and chips (aka high class fish and chips)-
blue cod here on Stewart Island is the
best in the world. A few beers, and a short nap, and on to the Kiwi Trip. Philip Smith has done this since
1989 and rarely fails to find a kiwi, usually on the beach where they eat sandhoppers and are easy to
see. However they’ve been a bit tough lately, and it took some walking up and down the beach, such
that a few of our group tired walking in the soft sand and decided to return to the boat with Sav.
Murphy’s Law kicked in for them unfortunately, and our next pass down the beach after they left
yielded a great close look at a big young male. We watched him from about 30 ft for 5 minutes as he fed
on sandhoppers, then he realized we were there and trotted off into the bush. The group also was lucky
to see a Mottled Petrel spotted by our kiwi guide and held in his spotlight. Good to get this one as they
can be tough to get on pelagics. I missed the Mottled, but heard one later as it flew over Oban on our
return to the hotel. All in all a great day; looking forward to the all-day pelagic tomorrow and hopefully a
NZ tick for me, Antarctic Tern! List now at 161, still projecting a new record of 170!
Nov 29 (Fri):
Today was the much-anticipated Stewart Island pelagic, an all-day adventure mainly centered around
Wreck Reef, or as I prefer, Big Reef, which is off the easternmost point of Stewart Island. The reef
causes mixing and upwelling, bringing nutrients to the surface and attracting seabirds. It’s a great area
for a large number of birds, given enough wind to allow the smell of our chum to travel. Unfortunately
today was mostly very calm, and without wind, seabirds don’t fly. So we plugged away, went out about
8 miles past Big Reef, tooled around looking for birds, and finally returned to Big Reef for a final
chumming session. Although the day seemed to go slowly, we had some exciting parts, and put
together a good list, including great looks at both Grey-backed Storm-Petrel and Mottled Petrel, two
sought after specialties off Stewart Island. We arrived back at Oban around 5.30 pm, had dinner at 6.30
pm, and retired. Dinner at the South Sea Hotel was good- lobster and blue cod patties, nice salad.
However there was a table of teenage girls and the racket was almost intolerable. When they finally
departed it was eerily quiet, spooky even. Because we missed Broad-billed Prion and Campbell
Albatross, it’s unlikely we’ll beat the record of 168, but could well tie it. If we get lucky and have one of
the 2 seabirds we missed today on the ferry ride back to Bluff in the morning, we’ll be in good shape. As
I write this it’s blustery and rainy in Oban, so the ferry ride could be quite exciting!
Nov 30 (Saturday):
After breakfast at 7 am, got packed up for the ferry ride back to Bluff on the mainland. Checked with my
binoculars and the sea looked pretty nasty! Anyway, we took off with the hammer down as usual on
these ferries. The boat is a large, low-slung, wide catamaran, maybe 60 ft long, 40 ft wide. In the center
of Foveaux Strait the swells were around 10-15 ft, so an exhilarating ride. Best thing about Foveaux
Strait is the swells are almost always roughly parallel to our direction of travel (north or south) and so
we roll rather than bounce, which is by far more pleasant. The boat maintains top speed all the way,
around 20 knots, so quite a bit of fun. Didn’t add any new birds on the crossing (we were trying hard for
Broad-billed Prion), but made it safely to Bluff. Main goal today was to drive to Oamaru (about 250
miles) and check a couple of spots for closer looks at Yellow-eyed Penguin, considered the world’s rarest
penguin in terms of numbers. We had seen a couple on Bench Island near Stewart Island, but rather
distantly. We stopped first at Shag Point, about 30 miles north of Dunedin , where the wind was so
fierce we could hardly stand up. Nice colony of Stewart Island Shags, but no penguins in sight. We then
headed for Bushy Beach near Oamaru, where there is a nice viewing site high above the beach. One
bird was visible for a while when we arrived, but it soon went into the bush to climb up to its nest. After
a while another surfed in and provided great scope views for a few minutes. Happy with the looks, but
feeling pretty cold (high temp was around 50 with stiff wind blowing) we headed into Oamaru. I was
amazed by the incredible number of beautiful limestone buildings in the downtown area- the stone is
quarried nearby and earlier in its history Oamaru must have been a very wealthy town. Last time I was
in Oamaru I was 8, but don’t remember these remarkable buildings (what 8-year old would?) Had dinner
at a nice restaurant, Capo; I had NZ roast dinner and a huge pile of veggies. Great meal. Caught up the
last 4 days of our list. No new birds today, so list is at 163. We will see how tomorrow goes, but likely
will end up on 167, one short of the record for a 21-day trip.
Dec 1 (Sunday):
Just found out that Iowa beat Nebraska on Friday (go cousin Nate Meier!) and Penn State beat Wisconsin on
Saturday!! And Alabama lost by a crazy finish. Go Missouri, too! Who says Missouri can’t play in the
SEC? Enough football though. Started out from Oamaru for the short 80-mile drive to Omarama in the
Mackenzie Basin, a high flatland at elevation around 4500 feet in the central South Island. We dropped
our stuff at our motel and proceeded on a big loop north to look for Black Stilt, Chukar, and Baillon’s
(Marsh) Crake. First stop was Lake Poaka near Twizel, a fairly regular spot for Black Stilt, but no luck. On
then to Glentanner, where the species is generally reliable, but when we arrived the water level was up
and we only noticed a single Pied Stilt. Soon however, sharp-eyed Terry saw two immatures in some
sedgy vegetation near us. Soon, a few more arrived and we were treated to good looks at 6 immature Black Stilts.
They were all banded, the best field mark for Black Stilt (!), as all birds in the wild have been released at
some point in the last 20 years or so. DOC collects all eggs laid in the wild by the 20 or so
breeding pairs remaining and rear them past juvenile stage and then release them. However, we
decided these youngsters weren’t enough and that we needed to see an all black adult Black Stilt. We
drove up to Lake McGregor and quickly found a beautiful black adult feeding along the edge of the lake.
We ate our lunch there in warm sunshine while the bird worked its way out of sight. A necessary stop is
adjacent Mt John, where the introduced game bird Chukar is established. We soon found one which
flew over and joined two more, so we all got good looks at these birds. Probably the biggest challenge of
our 3 targets today is Baillon’s Crake, a widespread but very elusive eastern hemisphere rail, reputedly
easiest found in its entire range at just the spot we were heading for, the Ruataniwha Wetland on the
Ohau River delta. The strategy, which hasn’t failed in all of my previous trips here, is to spread out along
the edge of the wetland and watch for one to come wandering along or at least to respond to our tape
of its calls. Well, turns out this would be the first time I didn’t see one, but fortuitously Sav and Candy
were standing together and heard one call briefly. The rest of us missed it, but we can count it for our
trip if at least 2 people see it or hear it. Close call. We drove back to Omarama, and seeing it was our
last night as a group, had some delicious smoked salmon on crackers (and a beer, of course) and talked
about the trip. We then went to dinner at a very nice winery nearby, Ladybird Hill. I had blue cod yet
again, still delicious (and a beer, of course). List now at 166, tied with Brent’s trip total, but we have
that secret weapon in hand, Mute Swan! Unfortunately the record of 168 seems safe.
Dec 2 (Monday):
Today we had a rather easy drive from Omarama to Christchurch, where Mary Jo and Lois were
scheduled to fly out at 4.30 pm and Eric and Jackie, Terry, and Sandy were going at 7.30 pm. We only
had one birding stop to make, Cooper’s Lagoon, south of Christchurch on the coast, to pick up Mute
Swan. Easy- there were at least 13 of them floating around, all big and white. From there we drove into
Christchurch to the airport, and had our last meal together, lunch at the nice Antarctic Center. Sav drove us
all back to the Airport Lodge Motel where Doug and I and Candy and Paul are staying. We said our
goodbyes, and off they went to the airport again. A great trip and a fun group. Final tally 167, one
better than Brent’s trip but one short of tying the record. Sandy and Paul leave at 6.30 am tomorrow for
Australia (alarm at 3.45 am!) and then come back to NZ for a trip to the subantarctic islands (I’m jealous,
and they’re tough). Doug and I head out to the Chatham Islands with 2 others for 5 nights- we have a
plan, but it’s a tentative one, as all plans are on the Chathams. We hope to be able to land on a small
island and look for Chatham Snipe- a new adventure for our Chathams trips (this will be my fifth). We’ll
also try for the other 12 or so species found only on the Chathams or that only breed there. We fly out
of Christchurch at 1 pm on Dec 3 for the 2-hour flight in the old but trusty Convair.
Dec 3 (Tuesday):
Leisurely start to the day- had toast for breakfast in our room, then shuttled to the airport at 10 am to check
in for our 1 pm flight to the Chats. All went smoothly until at 1 pm we realized we were now on
Chathams time- plane didn’t leave until almost 2 pm. Flight over was only 1 hr 45 mins and as smooth
as it could be other than a little bouncing as we descended through clouds just before landing. Always
interesting arriving over the huge lagoon covered with thousands of Black Swans. Val Croon was there to
collect us and take us to Hotel Chatham, where we four were allocated our tiny but comfortable single
rooms each. Toilets and showers down the hall. We discussed our plans with Val- we will do main boat
trip Thursday in Val’s boat. We will attempt Mangere, Rabbit Island, Pitt, Southeast, and Pyramid last
until near dark. We’ll see how we do on this day then
possibly do a half day for what we missed. Before dinner we walked over to the shag colony just a bit
south of Waitangi, and saw both Chatham and Pitt shags, both endemic to the Chathams. Tomorrow
we’ll do the main Chatham land birding; ordered box lunches so we should be good to go. Dinner was ---
----- blue cod! Served in a tasty sauce with small prawns, potatoes, and salad. And a Tui beer. A good
Dec 4 (Weds):
Left after breakfast for a long driving day- birding and tourism. Took our delicious boxed lunch and first
we went south to Awatotara for the bush birds- soon had a Chatham Gerygone that responded well to
my pishing and sat up for us, then a few Chatham Pigeons (Parea). A family of Weka (the “Buff Weka”,
now extinct on the mainland, but successfully introduced to Chatham, where they are everywhere)
entertained us for a while. Had a good study of the common endemic Chatham Pipit, then went back
north and all the way to Waitangi West beach at the northwest corner of Chatham Island and walked
along the beach only about 400 yards before we found 2 pairs of the endemic Chatham Oystercatcher.
Beautiful beach- we enjoyed the sun and the sea for a while and then headed on the long trek to the
northeast corner via the north side of the huge central lagoon. We checked all the likely shorebird spots,
but no sign of any shorebirds. But the huge numbers of Black Swans on the lagoon were pretty obvious.
Turned off the main road to go south to Hapupu, site of the ancient Moriori dendroglyphs- tree carvings.
They are intriguing to see, and to see that the kopi (karaka) forest is regenerating well after fencing it
to keep sheep out. We returned to the “highway” and took a quick spin through Kaingaroa, the
northeasternmost settlement on the island. It is a fishing village perhaps with 100 residents. We found
some Pitt Shags on the rocks at the west end of “town” and a couple of Salvin’s Albies in the harbor.
Then it was the bone-rattling ride on the gravel roads back to Waitangi. Chatham is a big island; we
probably drove more than 100 miles in all. Finally back to our rooms with the usual high-class dinner to
come! I had roast pork with kumara (NZ sweet potato) mash, a small ice cream sundae, and a couple
of Tui beers. Wonderful! Tomorrow is the big day on the boat- prob a 15-hour extravaganza.
Dec 5 (Thursday):
Our big day motoring around the islands. Val’s boat, very fast and stable- good for getting around and
seeing things, was parked at Owenga. We drove over and got aboard NZ style- we climb onto the boat
while it’s still on the trailer and they back the boat into the water. I like the system- no slippery dock
steps and doesn’t matter where the tide is. Skipper was a young guy Matt McKenzie who turned out to be a good
skipper- very cooperative, even though we were out for 14 hours or so and it was his birthday! Luckily
we got back before the pub closed! He and his deckie, Jake, kept us in good shape for chum by catching
Blue Cod easily and cutting them up. We started by zipping down to Rabbit Island at the northwest tip of
Pitt Island where we hoped to land and look in the small forest there for Chatham Snipe. We circled the
small island and could have got ashore (with some difficulty and some cohones), but couldn’t see a way
up the cliffs to the top. So we bagged that idea, although the forest looks good- not just scrub, but a
canopy that would seem to provide good snipe habitat. Oh well- on to Mangere where we park off
Black Robin Bush and stare at the undergrowth hoping for a robin to appear. I’ve seen one there once
before, and this time got lucky again- I had a good look at one as it skipped across between two bushes
at the southernmost viewing spot. Interestingly, Doug and Detlef had brief glimpses also just a few yards
to the north, so apparently a territory there, with the same bird accounting for the two sightings. We
also had good looks at Forbes’s Parakeets, Chatham Tomtit, and Chatham Gerygone from the boat. An eye-
testing 4 hours, but as good a look as can be expected. We then motored (quickly- the boat is very fast!)
around to Southeast and no sooner did we arrive, but there were a couple of Shore Plovers. In all we
saw about 12 as we circled the island, all on the east and south (more or less). The ones I looked at
closely were unbanded. We tried for Black Robin at a couple of overhanging bush sites, but no luck. Next
we headed south to Pyramid where we planned to stay until dark with the idea of doing some
chumming in a couple of spots south of Pyramid and waiting to see Fulmar Prions returning to the
Pyramid. We arrived earlier than I thought we would, with no landing on Rabbit and a fast boat, so had a
very relaxing few hours poking around. As usual, we saw no Chatham Albies until near enough to Pyramid to
see them circling around that amazing rock. Hundreds of them in the air and all over the rock- an
amazing sight! We could see that the Chat Albies were streaming up from the south in a narrow
corridor, with a couple of large rafts of birds apparently waiting to go ashore, so we steamed slowly
south down “albie corridor” to see if anything else was around, planning to chum whenever something
different appeared. We stopped about 3 km south of Pyramid and chummed for a while- Three N. Royals,
and a bit surprisingly a nice rather old Southern Royal (extensive white inner forewings, no black
in tail), several Buller’s Albies, lots of Sooty Shearwaters, only one stopping behind the boat, Cape
Petrels, but no White-chinned or storm-petrels. Rather bland, which has been my experience chumming
south of Pyramid in the past. However we moved back to the Pyramid and chummed again, when
suddenly appeared a Yellow-nosed Albie, certainly one of the pair that nests on Pyramid. First thought
as it approached a couple hundred yards away was Black-browed/Campbell, with the rounded white
head, but we soon realized that the bill was different. The bird was in high plumage with bright yellow upper
bill turning bright red at the tip. We decided that the reason we could have seen one bird of only two in
the area was the species’apparently strong attraction to boats. It sat around for several minutes,
allowing Detlef to get good pics, then flew off with a Blue Cod head in its bill. As it got later, the action
heated up with fly-bys. We saw a couple of Pterodromas, one of which I saw really well, including the
underside. It had no dark shading on the head, and immaculate white underparts including the
underwing. I believe it was a Cook’s, but there are no prior records from the Chats. The only expected
cookilaria types here are Black-winged and Chatham, both of which should show obvious blackish in the
underwings, and possibly Mottled, which, with the look I had, is easily ruled out. Another flew by that
Detlef saw best and he believed it to be a Cook's Petrel also; a third was best seen by Ian and also identified as a Cook's.
After a while we saw a couple of prions that flew by lazily in the manner of Fairies, but we
wondered why we hadn’t seen more prions. Then, around 8 pm, suddenly there were good numbers of
prions around us, flying around more like Pterodromas than Fairy Prions. The jizz was notably different
to Fairy Prions in flight that we see in the Hauraki Gulf for example. Wind conditions were low ie not
much wind at all, but these prions seemed a bit “lankier”, with more pointed wings and longer tail than
my impression of Fairy Prions. Later, Detlef’s photos showed gray shading on the abdomen, a good point
in favor of Fulmar Prion. Given our location, time of day, and flight jizz, we agreed that these were
beyond reasonable doubt Fulmar Prions. We were still hoping for Magenta Petrel, but no luck there. As
it was getting harder to see we decided to head north and back to Owenga. After about 30 minutes we
realized we were surrounded by storm-petrels, so we stopped the boat (cutting into Matt’s birthday
celebration time, but he was good about it), and took only a minute or two to see that the birds were all
Grey-backed Stormies, obviously gathering before returning to their various nesting sites on the islands
in the area. So- things happen mostly in the last hour or so before dark! We then powered back to
Owenga- arrived at 10.40 pm, so not so bad after hanging out at Pyramid until nearly dark. Drove back
to the hotel and into bed by 11.45 or so. Another great day on the water; we tried some new things and
learned a lot. What we did would have been very tedious with a slower boat- amazing how much extra
birding time one has with a fast boat. So now we only have Chatham Snipe (no chance it seems),
Magenta and Chatham Petrels to see. Pretty good really. We will are discuss our options tomorrow for
the petrels, but it looks like we’ll do the late afternoon –evening Magenta Petrel watch off the Horns.
Dec 6 (Friday):
This was a great rest day. Weather did not allow a boat trip to the Horns (Cape L’Eveque) to watch for
returning Magenta Petrel, and Liz Tuanui was unavailable for her Tuku Tour. Had breakfast as usual, with
enjoyable group discussion of our great seabirding day yesterday and reviewed our identifications.
Caught up on my blog journal and actually finished the Southern Great Plains write-up (without
Oklahoma). Lunch was ordered at the pub- delicious fish and chips with a ginger beer. Made
arrangements with Val to leave on his boat for the Magenta Petrel watch at 4 pm tomorrow, then
arranged with Liz Tuanui to do her tour at 11 am tomorrow also. Then actually took a 45-min nap,
waking up in time for dinner. Bluenose (a very tasty local fish) in a leek sauce with prawns was great.
We joked that it was the endemic Chatham Island Leek (not true, of course). Not sure if I can stand this
hard work much longer. Weather permitting we should finish our serious birding tomorrow and, with a
Magenta Petrel sighting, will have cleaned up except for snipe.
Dec 7 (Sat):
Liz Tuanui called early to cancel the Tuku Tour because of fog. We’ll do it tomorrow (Sunday). The
weather is supposed to get better- I did some laundry and my clothes have been on the line for 2 days
and are still wet. The air is very wet, but not raining. We did stuff until about 11 am, when we took a
drive up to Ocean Mail Reserve, checking the lagoon shoreline for shorebirds. Not a single migrant, but
did see a Chat Oystercatcher and a few Pied Stilts. Back around 2.30 to pick up our pre-ordered pizza-
delicious pepperoni, but they put barbecue sauce on it! Got used to the different taste, but I prefer my
pizza pretty basic. Took off on Val’s boat with skipper Matt and deckie Jake, same guys as two days ago.
Idea was to poke around about 1-2 km sw of the Horns and hope for a Taiko (Magenta Petrel). Only
took 30 mins to get there from Waitangi- Matt doesn’t mess around. Had plenty of chopped up blue
cod for chum; Jake hooked a big blue cod, but when he pulled it up, only half was there- the back half
had been chomped off likely by a shark. Had a pretty good afternoon before it got later and into “Taiko
Time”, the period before darkness when Taiko return to the nesting area in the Tuku Valley. They wait
off shore, circling around, then go inland to their burrows at dusk. So we wait offshore until dark too-
although this strategy on our part has worked before, no luck this time. Did have some good birds,
though- lots of Grey-backed and White-faced Stormies and Fairy Prions. Around 10 pm we decided to
head home, and Matt “Hammer Down” MacKenzie ripped on back to Waitangi. Exciting ride. We’ll see
what tomorrow brings in the Tuku Valley! Through today, we are missing only Magenta Petrel, Chatham
Petrel, and Chatham Snipe, so doing very well.
Dec 8 (Sun):
Drove down to the Tuanui home in the next valley south of the Awatotara River and Liz was ready around
9 am. We got into her sturdy 4WD pickup and began the long, very steep up and down, but fascinating
ride south to the Taiko Camp. The valley of the Tuku River is very deep, and the drive through gave great
views. We passed the Tuku camp in the distance (we’ll stop on our way back) and headed a bit further to the
Sweetwater Covenant area and the Taiko Camp, where both Magenta Petrel and Chatham Petrel have been translocated.
The predator fence was built by the Tuanuis and is 705 meters long. It reminded me of the fence around
Maungatautari, but doesn’t have the trip wire tree-fall warning system. We went in on the rather short
track accompanied by Liz and Judeen, a local volunteer. We were taken to the burrow area for both
petrel species and were really impressed by the equipment and technology being used to track the
birds, including video recorders and telemetric equipment. Liz and technician Joss informed us that
there were 3 burrows being used, one by a female that had just laid her egg and would soon be replaced
by a male that would do the incubation, another burrow with its incubating male in place, and a burrow
occupied by an un-mated male. Another interesting and encouraging sign was that 2 of the 3 burrows
were freshly dug by the birds, rather than using the adjacent artificial burrows. According to Covenant rules, we are
allowed to be shown one non-breeding Magenta Petrel. Fortunately, our timing was perfect, as the
aforementioned un-mated male was shown to us. This extremely rare bird was an amazing sight to see indeed,
and we felt greatly privileged. The window for un-mated males to be viewable is very short, and in some
years, none are present. The technology for
the Chatham Petrels was not as extensive, but their numbers are higher than Magentas, and they have
another successful translocation site at Caravan Bush on Pitt Island. We were shown a cooperative Chatham
Petrel, and were even able to see its extensively black-marked underwings and axillars. After our exciting visit, we
returned to the Tuku Camp and were told of its fascinating history and shown photos of the interesting
people who had been there over the years. One photo showed Detlef and Carol, who visited with
busload of folks organized by Chris Gaskin. How they got the bus there I don’t know, as the road was
apparently in much worse shape than it is today. To my amazement, one photo showed my Latin
teacher at Kings College, Mr Sibson- he was an officer in the Ornithological Society of NZ at the time I
assume. We had a great lunch around the picnic table at the camp, talking with Bruce and Liz Tuanui, their
daughter Katrina, who is planning to married in late Dec at the Tuku Camp, and technicians Joss and Judeen. Nice
sunny day and very pleasant and interesting conversation at a hallowed site in NZ ornithology. Back to
Liz’s home and drove on back to Waitangi. Had a few beers before dinner, traditional NZ roast (must
have had a half pound of very tasty grass-fed beef). Just had to have an ice-cream sundae since we were
celebrating. Went to bed and slept like a log after an exciting and emotional day. The Chathams have a
way of bringing out the Kiwiness in me.
Dec 9 (Tue):
Departure day! Sad, but exciting in that soon I’ll be seeing my Houston grandchildren and Lyn for the
first time in a month. At least it will be warm there! Air Chats flight left on time at 10.30 (well, only 15
mins late) and flew uneventfully to Wellington, which was as unwindy as I have ever seen it. Usually
Wellington is very windy and bouncy coming in or going out. Said goodbye to Ian as he was flying to
Napier, and Doug, Detlef, and I left for the very short 45 min flight to Auckland. Detlef was flying to Bay
of Islands so we said goodbye to him too. It has been a convivial group visiting the Chats! As I write this
Doug and I are waiting for our flight leaving at 10.45 pm.
Dec 9 (Tue): Arrived in Houston at 1 am, after our flight from LAX was delayed 2 hours (no plane!???).
Auckland to LA was uneventful, and of course we gained a day- still Dec 9. Total elapsed time from
Chathams was around 34 hours, so a bit tiring. Did get 5-6 hours sleep on the flight over the Pacific,
though. Thanks to my daughter and wife who patiently waited at Houston Bush to pick me up. Into bed
of course ASAP; we'll see what jet lag will do to me the next few days. Flying eastward across time zones is
Annotated Trip List
001. Apteryx mantelli North Island Brown Kiwi: 2 heard, 1 seen Trounson Kauri Park.
002. A. australis Southern Brown Kiwi (Southern Tokoeka): 1 seen Ocean Beach, Stewart Island.
003. A. rowi Okarito Brown Kiwi (Rowi): one seen and heard Okarito Forest.
004. A. owenii Little Spotted Kiwi: 3 heard, 1 seen, Tiritiri Matangi I.
005. Anser anser Feral (Graylag) Goose: widespread.
006. Branta canadensis Canada Goose: widespread, but mostly South I.
007. Cereopsis novaehollandiae Cape Barren Goose: 2 at St. Anne's Lagoon.
008. Cygnus olor Mute Swan: 13 at Cooper's Lagoon.
009. C. atratus Black Swan: widespread.
010. Tadorna variegata Paradise Shelduck: widespread.
011. Hymenolaimus malacorhynchus Blue Duck: 3 on Lower Tongariro River; 2 on Hollyford River.
012. Anas platyrhynchos Mallard: widespread, but most are hybrids and back-crosses with Pacific Black Duck.
013. A. superciliosa Pacific Black Duck: phenotypic Pacific Black Ducks scarce and localized.
014. A. rhynchotis Australasian Shoveler: widespread in small numbers.
015. A. chlorotis Brown Teal: 8 at Tawharanui, 3 on Tiritiri Matangi I.
016. A. gracilis Grey Teal: widespread.
017. Aythya novaeseelandiae New Zealand Scaup: widespread.
018. A. australis White-eyed Duck: one on pond at Foxton Beach.
019. Callipepla californica California Quail: widespread.
020. Meleagris gallopavo Wild Turkey: widespread open farmland, mostly North I.
021. Alectoris chukar Chukar: 3 on southwest slope Mt. John.
022. Coturnix ypsilophora Brown Quail: 8 on Tiritiri Matangi I.
023. Gallus gallus Feral Chicken: NZ listers count population at Lake Horowhenua.
024. Phasianus colchicus Common (Ring-necked) Pheasant: widespread.
025. Pavo cristatus Indian Peafowl: one on Kawau Island, also central North Island.
026. Eudyptes pachyrhynchus Fiordland Penguin: 14 outer Milford Sound, 2 Halfmoon Bay.
027. Megadyptes antipodes Yellow-eyed Penguin: 1 on Edwards Island, 2 on Bench Island, 3 at Bushy Beach.
028. Eudyptula minor Little Penguin: widespread; 3 subspecies by range.
029: Diomedea chionoptera Wandering (Snowy) Albatross: 1 off Kaikoura.
030. D. antipodensis antipodensis, T. a. gibsoni New Zealand Albatross: several off Kaikoura.
031. D. epomophora Southern Royal Albatross: 2 off Kaikoura, 1 off Stewart I, 1 off Pyramid.
032. D. sanfordi Northern Royal Albatross: 6 off Kaikoura, 2 off Stewart I, 2 off Pyramid.
033. Thalassarche melanophris Black-browed Albatross: 1 off Kaikoura, 1 off Stewart I.
034. T. cauta steadi White-capped Albatross: seen all pelagic trips in good numbers; only 2 Chatham Is.
035. T. salvini Salvin's Albatross: seen most pelagic trips; abundant off Stewart I, 4 off Pyramid.
036. T. bulleri Buller's Albatross: one off Stewart I.
037. T. chlororhynchos Yellow-nosed (Indian) Albatross: One off Pyramid.
038. Garrodia nereis Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 3 off Stewart I, abundant near dusk Chatham Is.
039. Pelagodroma marina White-faced Storm-Petrel: common Hauraki Gulf and off Whitianga; abundant near dusk Chatham Is.
040. Pealeornis maoriana New Zealand Storm-Petrel: 8 in Hauraki Gulf.
041. Macronectes giganteus Antarctic (Southern) Giant-Petrel: one off Stewart I, one Chatham Is.
042. M. halli Hall's (Northern) Giant-Petrel: one or a few most pelagic trips; 30 off Kaikoura, 30 Chatham Is.
043. Daption capense Cape Petrel: widespread Kaikoura southward, abundant Chatham Is. All capense.
044. Puffinus bulleri Buller's Shearwater: common Hauraki Gulf, a few off Whitianga, none elsewhere.
045. P. carneipes Flesh-footed Shearwater: Common Hauraki Gulf, Whitianga, 1 Cook Strait.
046. P. griseus Sooty Shearwater: only a few north, but common Foveaux Strait and Chatham Is.
047. P. tenuirostris Short-tailed Shearwater: 2 Hauraki Gulf, one Whitianga.
048. P. gavia Fluttering Shearwater: abundant Hauraki Gulf, Whitianga, Queen Charlotte Sound. 8 Stewart I (rare there).
049. P. huttoni Hutton's Shearwater: one Cook Strait, abundant Kaikoura, 2 Stewart I (unusual).
050. P. assimilis Little Shearwater: 5 Hauraki Gulf, 2 Whitianga.
051. Procellaria aequinoctialis White-chinned Petrel: 1 Cook Strait, 4 Kaikoura, one off Pyramid.
052. P. parkinsoni Black (Parkinson's) Petrel: 6 Hauraki Gulf, 2 Whitianga.
053. P. westlandica Westland Petrel: 2 Cook Strait, numerous Kaikoura.
054. Pachyptila vittata Broad-billed Prion: 3 Chatham Is.
055. P. turtur Fairy Prion: abundant (est 50,000) Hauraki Gulf, common Cook Strait, a few seen other pelagic trips, incl Pyramid.
056. P. crassirostris Fulmar Prion: Common near dusk off Pyramid.
057. P. axillaris Chatham Petrel: One at Sweetwater Covenant.
058. P. inexpectata Mottled Petrel: 4 off Stewart I.
059. P. cookii Cook's Petrel: abundant Hauraki Gulf, common Whitianga, 3 off Stewart I, 3 off Pyramid.
060. P. pycrofti Pycroft's Petrel: 20+ off Whitianga; many intermediate birds unidentifiable.
061. P. macroptera Great-winged (Grey-faced) Petrel: 2 off Whitianga.
062. P. magentae Magenta Petrel: one at Sweetwater Covenant.
063. Pelecanoides urinatrix Common Diving-Petrel: Common throughout.
064. Morus serrator Australasian Gannet: Common in north, none south of Kaikoura (1).
065. Phalacrocorax melanoleucos Little Pied Cormorant: widespread.
066. P. varius Pied Cormorant: widespread around coasts.
067. P. sulcirostris Little Black Cormorant: North I only, widespread in low numbers.
068. P. carbo Great Cormorant: widespread; several Chatham Island.
069. Leucosticte carunculatus Rough-faced (King) Shag: 7 Queen Charlotte Sound.
070. L. chalconotus Stewart Island Shag: colony Shag Point, common Foveaux Strait area.
071. L. onslowi Chatham Islands Shag: small colony near Waitangi, distant view Matarakau colony.
072. Stictocarbo punctatus Spotted Shag: 1 Wellington Harbor; common Marlborough Sounds, West Coast.
073. S. featherstoni Pitt Island Shag: fairly common Chatham Is.
074. Pelecanus conspicillatus Australian Pelican: 8 near Tokatoka, Wairoa River.
075. Tachybaptus novaehollandiae Australasian Little Grebe: 2 at Ormiston Rd pond near Waipu.
076. Poliocephalus rufopectus New Zealand Grebe (Dabchick): North I only; fairly common on lakes.
077. Podiceps cristatus Great Crested Grebe: scattered South Island lakes.
078. Platalea regia Royal Spoonbill: widespread at estuaries in low numbers.
079. Egretta alba Great Egret (White Heron): 1 southern West Coast.
080. E. sacra Pacific Reef-Egret: one Whitianga, one Kaikoura.
081. E. novaehollandiae White-faced Heron: common and widespread.
082. E. garzetta Little Egret: one at Lake Horowhenua.
083. Botaurus poiciloptilus Australasian Bittern: 2 at Whangamarino Swamp.
084. Milvus migrans Black Kite: one at Waihopai Valley Road.
085. Circus approximans Swamp Harrier: widespread.
086. Falco novaezeelandiae New Zealand Falcon: pair at nest near Wairakei Golf Course; 2 at Pohangina Totara Reserve.
087. Gallirallus australis Weka: one on Kawau I, fairly common West Coast, common Ulva I, abundant Chatham Island.
088. G. philippensis Buff-banded Rail: 4 at Tawharanui.
089. Porzana pusilla Baillon's (Marsh) Crake: one heard at Ruataniwha Wetland, Ohau Delta.
090. P. tabuensis Spotless Crake: one at North Pond, Tiritiri Matangi I.
091. Porphyrio porphyrio Purple Swamphen: widespread; several Chatham Island.
092. P. hochstetteri South Island Takahe: 4 Tiritiri Matangi I.
093. Fulica atra Common Coot: Whakamaru, L Taupo near Turangi, St Anne's Lagoon, Te Anau.
094. Haematopus finschi South Island Pied Oystercatcher: widespread, at estuaries North and South I. and inland South I.
095. H. unicolor Variable Oystercatcher: widespread at estuaries and on beaches.
096. H. chathamensis Chatham Oystercatcher: 2 pairs Waitangi West Beach.
097. Himantopus leucocephalus White-headed (Pied) Stilt: widespread, incl Chathams.
098. H. novaezelandiae Black Stilt: 7 immatures at Glentanner, one adult Lake McGregor outlet.
099. Pluvialis fulva Pacific Golden-Plover: 5 Manawatu Estuary.
100. P. americana American Golden-Plover: one putative Manawatu Estuary.
101. Charadrius bicinctus Double-banded Plover: widespread at estuaries and riverbeds; a few Chatham Island in dry grass areas.
102. C. (=Anarhynchus) frontalis Wrybill: 20 at Miranda, 1 at Manawatu Estuary.
103. C. obscurus Red-breasted (New Zealand) Plover: 23 from Waipu Estuary south to Miranda.
104. Thinornis novaeseelandiae Shore Plover: one banded Miranda; 13 South East Island.
105. Elseyornis melanops Black-fronted Dotterel: one Otaki Sewage Ponds.
106. Vanellus miles Masked Lapwing: widespread, incl Chathams.
107. Limosa limosa Black-tailed Godwit: one breeding plumage Miranda.
108. L. lapponica Bar-tailed Godwit: widespread.
109. Tringa stagnatilis Marsh Sandpiper: 1 at Miranda.
110. Arenaria interpres Ruddy Turnstone: a few at each estuary and at Kaikoura.
111. Calidris canutus Red Knot: common at North I. estuaries.
112. C. ruficollis Red-necked Stint: 4 at Miranda.
113. C. acuminata Sharp-tailed Sandpiper: 3 Miranda, 2 Mangere.
114. C. ferruginea Curlew Sandpiper: 2 at Mangere, 2 Miranda.
115. Catharacta antarctica Brown Skua: 6 Foveaux Strait area, common Chatham Islands.
116. Stercorarius parasiticus Parasitic Jaeger: fairly common around North I. and in Marlborough Sounds.
117. Larus dominicanus Kelp Gull: widespread.
118. L. scopulinus Red-billed Gull: widespread.
119. L. bulleri Black-billed Gull: widespread, including colony at Miranda; common inland South I.
120. Sterna caspia Caspian Tern: widespread in small numbers.
121. S. striata White-fronted Tern: widespread.
122. S. albifrons Little Tern: 1 at Manawatu Estuary.
123. S. nereis Fairy Tern: 1 at Waipu Estuary.
124. S. albostriatus Black-fronted Tern: inland South I. riverbeds; 20 Eglinton Valley.
125. Columba livia Rock Pigeon: widespread; often away from human habitation.
126. Streptopelia roseogrisea Barbary (African Collared-) Dove: abundant in north Orewa at Orewa House.
127. Streptopelia chinensis Spotted Dove: 6 at Puketutu I., Mangere; a few elsewhere in north, south to Miranda.
128. Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae New Zealand Pigeon: widespread.
129. H. chathamensis Chatham Island Pigeon: common Awatotara and Tuku.
130. Nestor notabilis Kea: Arthur's Pass, Homer Tunnel; total 15+.
131. N. meridionalis Kaka: 5 at Pureora. Several South I. and common at Oban.
132. Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae Red-crowned Parakeet: Common Tiritiri Matangi I; 3 Ulva I.
133. C. auriceps Yellow-crowned Parakeet: a few at Pureora, Motuara I, Fiordland, Ulva I.
134. C. malherbi Orange-fronted Parakeet: 3 on Blumine Island.
135. C. forbesi Forbes's Parakeet: 15 on Mangere Island.
136. Platycercus eximius Eastern Rosella: common northern North I, south to Pohangina Totara Reserve.
137. Chrysococcyx lucidus Shining Bronze-Cuckoo: widespread, responds well to tape.
138. Urodynamis taitensis Long-tailed Cuckoo: one well-seen at Pureora; 3 more heard.
139. Athene noctua Little Owl: Only sighting Postman's Road, Kaikoura.
140. Ninox novaeseelandiae Morepork: heard whenever we were out after dark.
141. Halcyon sanctus Sacred Kingfisher: widespread northern North I, 50+ first 2 days, fewer elsewhere.
142. Acanthisitta chloris Rifleman: 2 Tiritiri Matangi I; widespread South I. beech forests.
143. Xenicus gilviventris New Zealand Rock Wren: one well seen at Homer Tunnel.
144. Notiomystis cincta Stitchbird (Hihi): common at Tiritiri Matangi I.
145. Anthornis melanura New Zealand Bellbird: common at Tiritiri Matangi I., 2 Tawaharanui Reserve, and from Pureora south through South I.
146. Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae Tui: widespread except for southern North I. and northeastern South I., where none seen. Several Awatotara Valley, a few Mangere Island and South East Island.
147. Gerygone igata Grey Gerygone (Warbler): widespread.
148. G. albofrontata Chatham Island Gerygone: common Awatotara Valley, one on Mangere Island.
149. Callaeas cinereus Kokako: 6+ on Tiritiri Matangi I.
150. Philesturnus carunculatus South Island Saddleback: pair and fledgling Ulva I.
151. P. rufasater North Island Saddleback: Common Tiritiri Matangi I.
152. Gymnorhina tibicen Australasian Magpie: widespread.
153. Mohoua ochrocephala Mohua (Yellowhead): 10 Ulva I.
154. M. albicilla Whitehead: common Tiritiri Matangi I., a few at Pureora.
155. M. novaeseelandiae Pipipi (Brown Creeper): widespread South I.
156. Rhipidura fuliginosa New Zealand Fantail: widespread North and South Is.
157. Petroica macrocephala New Zealand Tomtit: widespread in low numbers North and South Is; one on Mangere Island.
158. P. australis South Island Robin: widespread South I.
159. P. longipes North Island Robin: common Tiritiri Matangi I., Pureora.
160. P. traversi Black Robin: two sightings of a single bird at south end of Black Robin Bush, Mangere Island.
161. Hirundo neoxena Welcome Swallow: widespread North I. and South I., numbers lower towards south.
162. Alauda arvensis Sky Lark: widespread.
163. Bowdleria punctata Fernbird: 5 Tiritiri Matangi Island; one near Okarito.
164. Zosterops lateralis Silver-eye: widespread.
165. Acridotheres tristis Common Myna: widespread North I.; southernmost near Wellington.
166. Sturnus vulgaris Common (European) Starling: widespread.
167. Turdus merula Eurasian Blackbird: widespread.
168. T. philomelos Song Thrush: widespread, most common in north.
169. Passer domesticus House Sparrow: widespread.
170. Prunella modularis Dunnock: widespread, but in low numbers northward.
171. Anthus novaeseelandiae New Zealand Pipit: widespread North and South Is., but somewhat localized by preferred habitat.
172. A. chathamensis Chatham Islands Pipit: common Chatham Islands.
173. Fringilla coelebs Chaffinch: widespread.
174. Carduelis chloris European Greenfinch: widespread North and South Is.
175. C. carduelis Eurasian Goldfinch: widespread.
176. C. flammea Common Redpoll: widespread, especially to south.
177. Emberiza citrinella Yellowhammer: widespread North and South Is.
178. E. cirlus Cirl Bunting: 3 at Kaikoura.