BIRDING AROUND THE WORLD

Subtitle

New Zealand: November 10 - 27, 1999                                                                                                                                       

After two months in Melanesia in May/ June, I continued my Pacific odyssey in November in New Zealand, this time with Roy Frost. We had allowed 18 days to see all the endemics possible and a good selection of seabirds. In the event we only needed 15 days to see what we hoped for, except the spotted kiwis, which eluded us. We flew into Auckland and spent the first week on North Island. The key site was the attractive island of Tiritiri Matangi (Tiri), which gave Takahe, Kokako, Stitchbird and Saddleback, but not Little Spotted Kiwi despite our overnight stay; a second night would have been sensible in retrospect. We also had a day trip to Kapiti, which although interesting, did not give any new species. The only other notable sites were Miranda, Pureora Forest Park and the Manganui A Te Ao River near Raetihi.

The Wellington – Picton ferry, which has been universally recommended for seabirds, was disappointing, giving only one species (Soft-plumaged Petrel) not seen on our pelagic trips. The Marlborough Sound cruise from Picton was worthwhile though, especially for stellar views of the rare Rough-faced Shag. We toured South Island extensively, the highlights being Stewart Island, the Milford Sound / Homer Tunnel area, and the Kaikoura pelagics. After the sight of dozens of albatrosses and petrels only a few metres away for prolonged periods, I doubt that I will ever bother to sea-watch from land again.

It is important to book two things well in advance – Kiwi-spotting with Phillip Smith (fax 0064 3 219 1144), as this takes place only every other night and can be booked up by tour groups, and accommodation on Tiri (tel 09 479 4490) plus the ferry to and from there (wendy [at] gulfharbourferries.co.nz).

In conclusion, New Zealand is an excellent birding destination, with a host of good birds, not to mention large numbers of disappearing British birds like Skylark, Song Thrush and finches, and is generally problem-free (which makes a pleasant change for me). I ended with 62 ticks, having had a poor sea-bird list before. It is more “British” than Britain, and it is easy to see why so many Brits have settled there.

TRANSPORT

We flew with Korean Air, Heathrow – Auckland via Seoul and Sydney – Heathrow via Seoul, booked through WildWings at a cost of £560 including taxes. It would have been the same price back from Christchurch but flights were full by the time we booked, so we had to return via Oz (which suited me but not Roy) and this added £190 to the price, including the internal flight to Christchurch / Queenstown.

Car hire was from Pegasus Rental Cars (nelson [at] rentalcars.co.nz), cheaper than the multinationals, at a cost of NZ $55 per day from Auckland and $49 per day from Christchurch, unlimited mileage, problem-free. Exchange rate was c.$3.06 to the pound. Petrol cost about 40% of the price at home.

ACCOMMODATION

We mostly stayed in backpacker lodges or hostels, often in twin-bed rooms, which were always clean and comfortable, and cost £4.50-7.50 per person, often using our own sleeping bags. None were booked in advance, except on Tiri, and we had no real problem in finding suitable places, with assistance from the Lonely Planet guide. Food was also fairly cheap and plentiful, with excellent fish and chips.

ESSENTIAL REFERENCES

Birdwatching in New Zealand. Ian Burfield 1995.

Field guide to the birds of New Zealand. B Heather and H Robertson. 1997. OUP.

Where to watch birds in Australasia & Oceania. N Wheatley. 1998. Christopher Helm.

Hand guide to the birds of New Zealand. B Heather and H Robertson. 1999. Penguin. Published after our trip, this contains the plates from the Field guide plus a useful “where to see birds” section.

MISCELLANEOUS

The weather was highly variable, with rain on many days but usually only as showers, and temperatures varying from cool to pleasantly warm. We had no health problems, and were hardly troubled by insects, although sandflies can be bad in the west of South Island, the best repellent being “Bushman”.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Many thanks especially to Ben Bell, and Nick Allen (nick_allen [at] xtra.co.nz) who is willing to answer queries about South Island, John Goodrich, Mike Hunter, Kim McConkey, Terry Whalin, Keith Woodley, and to Roy Frost for being such an excellent birding companion. Nick Allen made useful comments and additions to the draft account

Jon Hornbuckle 35 Grove Road, Sheffield S7 2GY

ITINERARY

Nov 10 Auckland - Miranda

11 Gulf Harbour ferry to Tiri 5

12 Tiri – Miranda - Rotorua

13 Rotorua – Pureora FP

14 Pureora FP – Raetihi - Paekakariki

15 Paraparaumu – Kapiti - Paekakariki

16 Wellington – Picton ferry, Marlborough Sound tour, Picton

17 Ferry to Wellington; flight to Christchurch - Oamaru

18 Dunedin – Otago Peninsula – Sinclair Wetlands – Nugget Point - Invercargill

19 Bluff – Oban, Stewart Island – Ulva Island - Oban

20 Pelagic, Acker’s Point, Oban

21 Ferry to Bluff – Te Anau – Lake Gunn NT – Homer tunnel – Milford Sound

22 Homer Tunnel, Milford Sound cruise – Te Anau - Omerama  

23 Omerama – Twizel – Lake Poaka – Mt Cook – L Poaka - Haast

24 Fox and Franz Josef glaciers – Paparoa NP - Punakaiki

25 Punakaiki – Westland – Lewis Pass – Hope Valley - Kaikoura

26 Pelagic, Kaikoura headland

27 Whale cruise, pelagic, Kaikoura - Christchurch

28 Lake Ellesmere – Christchurch airport.

DAILY LOG

Nov 10 Arrived in Auckland on time at 10.00 after 24 hour flight and eventually hit the road S to Miranda on the Firth of Thames. Just missed high tide, and so most waders, but good views of Wrybill and Red-breasted Dotterel. The strong wind was blowing in shearwaters and a few petrels but not quite close enough for confident id. Heavy rain terminated birding and we had a pleasant drink and chat, after excellent local fish and chips, with warden Keith before turning in at the centre’s bunkhouse where we were the only occupants.

Nov 12 After a gale in the night, there was doubt about the ferry coming but it did. We found a pair of teal on our second attempt, seeing them mating. Left at 10.20 in rain and wind, good view of a Buller’s Shearwater. Drove back to Miranda, just in time for high tide and dense packs of Knot and Barwits, with one Terek but no Curlew. Two hour drive to Roturoa, after fish and chips; checked in at Hot Rock Backpackers. A trip to Lake Rotoiti gave the expected NZ Grebe.

Nov 13 Lovely morning for a change, spent sightseeing in the thermal extravaganza, mainly at Wai-O-Tapu where Lady Knox geyser did its daily performance at 10.15. Left for Pureora FP, arriving at 15.30 and booked a cabin. Birded Perham’s Avenue, seeing a pair of NZ Falcon, Kaka, Yellow-fronted Parakeet, Rifleman and Tomtit, then to the observation tower but nothing new. Noodle supper then spotlighting for Morepork – heard but not seen.

Nov 14 Tried ranger’s recommended area for Kokako – back to the main road, turn right for c10km, then left, but did not find a good trail, so returned to Submerged Forest track, the tower and Perham’s Ave; Long-tailed Cuckoo was the only bird of note. At 09.00 left for Mangakino, then Lake Taupo where the marsh at Tokaanu just W of Turangi failed to produce Spotless Crake but 2 NZ Grebe were nearby. Continued S via National Park village, trying 2 sites for Blue Duck before finally scoring on Manganui A Te Ao River. Left at 15.30, driving almost non-stop to Paekakariki where we stopped at the good Paekakariki Backpackers at 18.30, rang Ross Leger to check details of Kapiti trip and ate well at Fisherman’s Table restaurant 2km to S.

Nov 15 To Paraparaumu beach at 08.30 for ferry to Kapiti. We boarded the boat while it was parked behind a tractor on dry land, after being told to check our bags to ensure there were no rats in them! Were then towed into the sea for the 15 min crossing. After a too long introductory talk, spent the day on trails in the thick hillside forest or coastal scrub. Wekas were new, Kakas fed from people’s arms, NZ Pigeons were photogenic and a Kokako sang, giving a brief view. Returned to the mainland at 15.00, then to the Backpackers where I chilled out while Roy drove up the coast to Foxton Beach to look for waders. Ate at Fisherman’s Table again.

Nov 16  Took the 09.30 – 12.30 Wellington - Picton Ferry across the Cook Strait, having missed the 06.30 because of setting the alarm an hour late: only 3 albatrosses and a close Westland Petrel of note, despite the windy conditions. Marlbro Sound cruise 13.45-18.30 was good, with Bare-faced Shag, (South Is.) Saddleback on Motuara Is. and Dusky Dophins round the boat. Night at Bavarian Backpackers after first pizza of the trip.

Nov 17 05.30 – 08.30 Picton – Wellington Ferry: NO albatrosses or petrels except Diving-petrels and 4 Soft-plumaged, many Fairy Prion. Toured Wellington and went to the zoo to kill time and ensure we saw a kiwi! Rang Pegasus in Queenstown, where we were due to hire our next car, to be told that the town was still cut-off by floods, so changed the reservation to Christchurch. Caught 12.00 flight, on the road at 14.10 direct to Omaru (17.00) and on to Bushy Beach Sanctuary (fork left at monument in town, left to old quarter, right up the hill to the top then left down to signed Penguin Sanctuary. One Yellow-eyed was preening on the grassy hillside but we did not wait for more due to the evil weather conditions. As the Backpackers was full, stayed at less-desirable YHA and ate at the Last Post pub.

Nov 18 05.30 – 06.45 to Dunedin then Taiaroa Head albatross centre, Otago Peninsula (07.30), where walked up hill to lighthouse and saw 3 Royals on the nest plus 2 close fly-bys; Black-browed and Shy were also over the sea. Then to Southlight Wildlife (NZ$15) to try for better views of Yellow-eyed but the only penguin visible was a lone Little. Lots of activity on the sea, so decided to go to the reputed best view point, Cape Saunders, but by the time we reached there, most birds had gone and we could not find an accessible site to watch from anyway. Left for Sinclair Wetlands at noon, soon finding Fernbird. On to Balclutha, intending to take scenic route through the Catlins but roads were flooded so had to abandon this idea; detoured to reach Kaka and Nugget Points – still no Yellow-eyes (at 15.30), although lots of Hooker’s Sea Lions, so fed at nearest shop / café. Returned to Kaka Pt at 18.00 to penguin activity at last. Returned to Balclutha to drive to Invercargill via Gore, with 1 detour due to flooding, arriving at 20.15. Pleasant evening at Southern Comfort Backpackers.

Nov 19 Booked Bluff ferry by phone at 07.55 (NZ$ 74 return), then drove Invercargill – Bluff and walked the Glory Trail. The catamaran ferry, 09.30 – 10.30, crossed the Foveaux Straits to Oban, Stewart Is., with a few sea-birds evident. Checked in at Michael’s Backpackers, a fisherman’s house; walked, lunched (RAF had disgusting muttonbird, ie young Sooty Shearwater) and took water taxi to Ulva Island to try and find Morepork, recently seen by a non-birder. No luck and quite heavy rain, but Pipipi was new and Wekas photogenic; back to Oban at 18.00. Nothing new on another walk round, during which I was flattened by a huge sprinting dog. At 21.00 we joined 12 others for the kiwi-hunt with Phillip Smith (NZ$ 60 each): boat to Ocean Beach, then slow walking till 00.30, with good views of a male and a female feeding separately on the beach.

Nov 20 Our first pelagic was with Bruce Story of Thorfinn Charters, 10.00 – 13.30, to the NE islands: good views of Fiordland Crested Penguins on rocks but few other birds until the furthest point where a fishing boat was surrounded by c100 Shy Albatross, plus Cape Petrels and Sooties. Nesting Brown Skuas and Bronze Shags were seen later. After a good lunch of homemade food at Britt’s Place, I walked to Acker’s Pt where only Little Penguins were evident. Returned to Acker’s Pt in the evening with Roy, hoping for Sooties and penguins returning to their burrows, but zilch by dusk; better still though was a Morepork, initially flushed but tape-responsive – we celebrated in the bar.

Nov 21 Ferry back to Bluff at 09.00 gave a Broad-billed Prion; Awarua Bay was disappointing for waders, but the southern scenic route to Te Anau and Fiordland NP was spectacular in places and gave our first Black-fronted Terns and Double-banded Plovers some 80km before Te Anau. After a “big breakfast” at 12.30 at Te Anau, continued up the Eglington Valley and had a long stop at Lake Gunn Nature Trail, eventually rewarded by good views of Yellowhead. Not so lucky at Homer Tunnel, dipping on Rock Wren, but at least the Keas did not attack our car. Reached Milford Sound at 18.15; night at the pleasant Milford Lodge after a quick walk to scenic Bowen Falls.

Nov 22 07.10 returned to Homer Tunnel and eventually located a pair of Rock Wren which gave excellent views, nest-building and singing, marred only by the fact that I had not bothered to take my camera, not expecting to be able to photo such an elusive species. Had a pleasant cruise in Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea with Mitre Peak Cruises (NZ$ 49) from 10.00 - 12.25, beautiful weather and scenery - the few birds included 5 Fiordland Crested Penguins diving up and down like dolphins. Drove to the outskirts of Queenstown, still cut-off by flooding, and on nearly to Omarama, stopping at Killermont Backpackers, on a Marino sheep farm of 12,000 acres. Birded the nearby Ahuriri River, where a pair of Black Stilt had been breeding before the floods, but appeared to have gone – close views of Wrybill and Double-banded Plover were a consolation. Watched John Cleese sweating in Madagascar on TV.

Nov 23 Another fine day, so returned to the river to photo the waders before checking at the DoC office in Twizel on where to find a stilt. The only one still known to be around was at Lake Poaka, so we spent some time there, without success, seeing many White-headed Stilt. Drove up to spectacular Mt Cook, and watched a circling NZ Falcon while eating a tasty stir-fry. Did the Tasman Glacier trail, then drove back to Twizel for a further shot at L Poaka, this time finding the adult Black Stilt commuting between a pool and wet pasture. This meant we had seen all the endemic landbirds we were likely to see, so decided to take the long, scenic route to Kaikoura via the Haast Pass to the west coast - had to wait 45 mins while bridge repairs were completed, some vehicles had waited for hours. Overnight at the big new Wilderness Backpackers at Haast.

Nov  24 Drove up the west coast in cloudy, damp weather unfortunately, stopping at the two glaciers and at Okarito to look for Great Egret, rare in NZ, which was seen poorly. Reached Punakaiki, near Greymouth, late afternoon and took last 2 beds at the friendly Te Nikau Retreat. Consulted the DoC office for possible sites for Great Spotted Kiwi, without much encouragement, then took Bullock’s Creek track into Paparoa NP, seeing Fernbird but little else. Booked the Westland Petrel tour with Bruce Menteith (03 731 1626), ate, then visited nearby Pancake Rocks, where White-fronted Terns were nesting, before meeting Bruce at 20.30. The visit to his sub-colony of 80 nests was interesting, with good views of fully-grown young by torchlight, and brief views of only 2 adults, it being late in the breeding season. Returned to Paparoa NP to look for the kiwi but never even heard it for sure, despite judicious use of the tape.

Nov 25 Returned to Pancake Rocks to photo the terns, then tried another trail along a river in Paparoa NP - scenic but almost birdless. Drove to Cape Foulwind, Westland – a few waders but still no Eastern Curlew for Roy – then on to Lewis Pass where walked in Abernethy-like habitat, but no birds. Down to the Hope Valley, a large braided river with terns, gulls and waders – seriously mobbed by the terns while finding a nest. Finally on back road through the hills to Kaikoura, situated in a beautiful setting, arriving 19.15; found recommended YHA full, so stayed at Blue Pacific Hotel (NZ$ 40 for twin bed room).

Nov  26 Booked 10.30 whale-watch cruise but it was cancelled due to NE wind, so took bird-pelagic at 11.00-13.30 – NZ$ 60 each for just the 2 of us – going to the Continental shelf 3-4 miles out. Skipper Gary Melville was pretty knowledgeable and the shark’s liver chum very effective – good selection of birds including 4 sp. of albatross, many Westland Petrels and an all-white Cape Petrel which looked like a Snowy. After lunch took a long walk round Kaikoura headland at low tide, past large Red-billed Gull colony where birds were being ringed; off-shore birds included 100s of Hutton’s Shearwater.

Nov  27 The 05.00 whale-watch did not leave till 06.00 and no whales were seen till 9 miles out at 07.30 when 3 Sperms surfaced at nearly the same time, giving reasonable views. Some birds evident but nothing new identified, with Dusky Dolphins but no Hectors. Booked another pelagic at 13.00 with Ocean Wings, paying NZ$ 40 each as another person had booked, then returned to the head for 2 hours to photo the gull colony. It was too rough to go further out as hoped and similar birds were seen plus Buller’s Shearwater, Fairy Prions and a Southern Fulmar for Roy, identified afterwards. Back at 15.15 in heavy rain, so headed south with a stop at Ashley Estuary, N of Waikuku, said to be the best site for Curlew but only holding Barwits. Reached Christchurch at 18.30 and stayed at Stonehurst Backpackers, eating pizza at Baillie’s pub in Cathedral Square.

Nov  28 Drove 50km to Hart’s Creek Reserve, Lake Ellesmere on a cold, grey day to look for Oz Bittern and Spotless Crake. Took some time to find it – nice habo and a few birds but the only new sp. was Mute Swan. Left after a lengthy vigil and took Lake Road, running NE parallel to the lake shore, turning right on Collett’s Road, at Boggy Creek Wetland Project sign, walking the last 200m to the shore – rewarded by a bittern in flight, the last tick of the trip. Drove back to Christchurch for our afternoon flights to Australia.

SITES FOR DIFFICULT SPECIES

Birding in New Zealand is straightforward but needs to be focused. It is important to ensure that certain birds are seen when at the best sites, or else they are likely to be missed altogether. The following are the key species, the others should be seen without extra effort.

Brown Kiwi

Phil Smith’s nocturnal trips on Stewart Island almost guarantee this form and it is possible to bump into it in the daytime, eg at the well-known Freshwater Hut (7 hr walk or go by water taxi). This species has been split into 4 by some NZ taxonomists; the other 3 are all strictly nocturnal and difficult to see, though the North Island taxon can be found in Northland at Aroha Island, 12km NW of Kerikeri and linked to the mainland by a causeway – tel 09 407 5243, fax 5246 to book cottage or campsite.

Little Spotted Kiwi

Tiri is the best option but they are thin on the ground. According to Tony Palliser, who lived in NZ for a while, the best way to see a kiwi is to rush at it once you hear it as it usually freezes then – if you go slowly, it will hear you and run away. The alternative is to sit and wait but this can take hours of course. It doesn’t help that tapes are not allowed. The birds are much commoner and easier to see at night on Kapiti but you are not allowed to stay there without special permission from the DoC www.doc.govt.nz. To get to Kapiti, take the ferry from Paraparaumu beach (NZ$25) – book through Ross Leger (tel 04 297 7356) – he will arrange day permits too.

Great Spotted Kiwi

The best site is said to be the Heaphy Trail (see Lonely Planet) in the far NW of S Island. They can be heard at Paparoa NP (beyond Bullock Creek Farm track - dangerous to go off the tracks, due to hidden pot-holes) and Arthur’s Pass (Rolleston lookout and lower Bealey track) but are difficult to see as strictly nocturnal.

New Zealand Grebe

Lake Rotoiti is the most reliable site and we also had them on Lake Taupo.

Fiordland Crested Penguin

Stewart Is. pelagics with Phil Smith or Bruce Storey (tel/fax 03 219 1210), Milford Sound cruises and South westland sites such as Jackson Bay and the beach at the end of the walk from Lake Moeraki.

Yellow-eyed Penguin

The Otago peninsula, especially Penguin Place where visible in burrows all day; Bushy Beach, Oamaru, Kaka Point beyond Balclutha and Stewart Island (pelagics) are the main sites. They are usually only visible from about 5pm onwards, possibly early morning too.

Seabirds

The Kaikoura pelagics run by Ocean Wings (info [at] oceanwings.co.nz, 0800 733365) are by far the best, with even more variety in the winter. The first trip costs NZ$60 but subsequent trips are negotiable. The only extra birds likely on Stewart Is. pelagics in summer are Brown Skua (guaranteed) and Mottled Petrel (which we missed), but in winter Grey-headed Albatross, White-headed Petrel and other southern species occur. A pelagic off N Island could be rewarding, with Cook's Petrel, Black Petrel and White-faced Storm-Petrel likely if you can get out to the Mercuries, eg from Whitianga on a Coromandel fishing boat. An easier but possibly less-rewarding option is to take a standard cruise to Great Barrier or Little Barrier Islands.

Rough-faced (King) Shag

Take a Dolphin Encounters (dolphin.marlborough [at] xtra.co.nz) cruise in Marlborough Sound from Picton, preferably in the morning as this has time to go as far as their roosting rocks. The afternoon cruise is more of a gamble because of the likelihood of windy conditions.

Blue Duck

Occurs on several fast-flowing rivers, eg Hollyford River in Fiordland, but can be difficult to find. Manganui A Te Ao River near Raetihi on N Island seems to be the easiest site: turn off SH4 4km north of Raetihi on Ohura road, cross river bridge at a fork after 13km and check the river from hereon. We saw it after 3km from inside a long paddock, entered with permission by climbing over a metal gate.

Brown Teal

Tiri is the best site, especially early morning on the small pond near the landing pier; also found in Teal Bay, Northland and on Great Barrier Island.

Black Stilt

Consult the DoC office, next to the Tourist Office, in Twizel. The Ahuriri River at Omarama is a regular site, as is the following: take the road northwards on the west side of Lake Tekapo; cross the wooden bridge over Cass River and take the track through the gate onto the Cass River delta – stilts nest on the shingle river bed towards the lake. Breeding may be over by mid-late Nov, making the birds difficult to locate.

Red-breasted Dotterel

Ensure you see it on the beach at Miranda, eg near the hide or further north near the river mouth, although they are said to be fairly common on Northland beaches such as Waipu, in the Waitangi area and Helena/ Teal Bay.

Yellow-fronted Parakeet

Although I guess it can be found in most beach woodland on South Island including Ulva Island, we only saw it at Lake Gunn NT and in Pureora FP on North Island.

Kakapo

Impossible to see as they are mostly on Maud Island with a few on Codfish Island off Stewart Island. However, as they started breeding successfully at last in 1999 perhaps access will be granted to the odd bird in the future.

Long-tailed Koel

Pureora Forest Park seems to be the best site although they are found wherever Whitehead, Yellowhead and Pipipi occur, eg on Kapiti and in the Eglington Valley, Fiordland. Morepork Common at Pureora Forest Park and Paparoa NP but not easy to see. We got it on the track out to Acker’s Point, Stewart Is perched initially on a signpost after a line of large trees, mostly eucalypts, c1km out of Oban.

South Island Wren

Found on the Te Anau side of Homer Tunnel but can be elusive. It is seen on the short circular nature trail but we could not find it there. A pair was nest-building at 08.00 in rocks a few hundred metres lower down. Gertrude Saddle Track, further back towards Lake Gunn is said to be another site.

Kokako

Introduced and breeding on Tiri (easiest) and Kapiti (difficult), original birds at Pureora Forest Park are best sought at dawn.

Yellowhead

A difficult bird now, we eventually heard it at Lake Gunn Nature trail, in a tree-fall area near the car park, and helped it into sight with a tape. Lake Sylvan campsite (follow signs from Glenorchy to Routeburn for 22km) is said to be a good site, and they are at Deer Flat and Knobs Flat.

Pipipi

We only saw it on Ulva Is., but it doubtless occurs widely in the west of SI and is said to be numerous on parts of the Banks Peninsula.

Fernbird

Found at Sinclair Wetlands, Waituna Lagoon and Paparoa NP – we had good views on the track to the right at the end of Bullock Creek Farm track.

Mammals

Cannibal Bay for hooker’s Sea Lion, Nugget Point for Elephant Seal, Curio Bay for Hector’s Dolphin (according to Nick Allen).

SYSTEMATIC LIST OF BIRDS

Taxonomy, names and sequence based on Birds of the World: A Checklist by JF Clements (1991) except where indicated. I indicates Introduced species; E Endemic breeding species.

E Brown Kiwi Apteryx australis

2 on Philip Smith’s evening trip on Stewart Island.

E Little Spotted Kiwi Apteryx owenii

2 heard at night on Tiri.

E New Zealand Grebe Poliocephalus rufopectus

5 Lake Lake Rotoiti and 2 Lake Taupo.

E Fiordland Crested Penguin Eudyptes pachyrhynchus

5 on rocks on Stewart Island, seen on the pelagic and 1 in the sea, 5 in Milford Sound during the cruise.

E Yellow-eyed Penguin Megadyptes antipodes

1 at the Bushy Beach viewpoint, Oamaru, 4 at Kaka Point and 2 on an island off Stewart Island.

Little Penguin Eudyptula minor

1 in a nest box on Tiri, 3 from Picton ferry, 2 in Marlborough Sound, 1 Otago Peninsula, 10+ Stewart Island pelagic and 5 Stewart Is. - Bluff ferry.

Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans

c13, of 3 races, on both Kaikoura pelagics.

Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora

3 nesting birds and 2 in flight seen well Otago Peninsula and several others seen at a distance; 1 on both Kaikoura pelagics.

Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris

1+ at sea off Otago Peninsula and Kaikoura headland, and 2 on Kaikoura pelagics.

2 albatrosses off Picton ferry 16-11-99 were identified at the time as Buller's Diomedea bulleri but we are unsure of this now.

Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta

4+ off Otago Peninsula, 6+ Bluff ferry, c100 on Stewart Island pelagic (mainly White-capped)

and 3 Salvin’s + 6 White-capped on Kaikoura pelagics.

Hall's Giant Petrel Macronectes halli

14+ Kaikoura pelagics were all of this sp. Single Macronectes sp. were seen from the Picton ferry, Otago Peninsula and Kaikoura headland but too distant to identify to sp.

Cape Petrel Daption capense

12 Bluff ferry, 20+ Stewart Island pelagic and 100+ Kaikoura pelagics including an all white bird which looked like a Snow Petrel with a large bill on the first pelagic.

Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera

2 on the ferry to Tiri and on both Kaikoura pelagics. Several petrels were observed from the island of Tiri and probably included this sp. and Cook’s Petrel Pterodroma cookii but they were too distant to identify with confidence.

Soft-plumaged Petrel Pterodroma mollis

Up to 4 Picton ferry 16-11-99.

Broad-billed Prion Pachyptila vittata

A good sighting of 1 from the Stewart Is. - Bluff ferry on 21-11-99.

Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur

Common from the Picton ferry and 10-20 on the second Kaikoura pelagic.

White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis

3-5 Kaikoura pelagics. It is necessary to get very close views to identify this sp. from P. westlandica, which is much commoner in these waters.

E Westland Petrel Procellaria westlandica

1 Picton ferry, 2 adults and 7-8 full grown young at a nesting colony near Punakaiki, and 100s on Kaikoura pelagics.

E Buller's Shearwater Puffinus bulleri

Singles from the ferry returning from Tiri and on the second Kaikoura pelagic. Several shearwaters offshore at Miranda were likely to have been this sp.

Flesh-footed Shearwater Puffinus carneipes

Dark Puffinus sp. were common off Tiri and the few seen fairly well were this sp.

Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus

Fairly common Picton ferry and Otago Peninsula, several Stewart Island and Kaikoura pelagics.

E Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia

Common off Tiri, Picton ferry and in Marlborough Sound.

E Hutton's Shearwater Puffinus huttoni

Numerous off Kaikoura headland and several on Kaikoura pelagics.

Common Diving-Petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix

Fairly common Picton - Wellington ferry, at the entrance to Marlborough Sound, 10 Bluff ferry but only singles on Stewart Island and Kaikoura pelagics.

Australian Gannet Morus serrator

Common off Tiri and a few at most other coastal watch-points.

Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos

A few Tiri, Otago Peninsula and Picton ferry.

Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax varius

A few Kaikoura and Lake Ellesmere.

Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris

8 Miranda, a few Lake Rotoiti and common Lake Taupo.

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Several Tiri, Stewart Is. - Bluff ferry and Milford Sound.

E Rough-faced Shag Phalacrocorax carunculatus

Singles in Marlborough Sound and on Motuara Island.

E Bronze (Stewart Island) Shag Phalacrocorax chalconotus

Common from Otago Peninsula to Stewart Island.

E Spotted Shag Phalacrocorax punctatus

1 Kapiti, common Picton ferry, Marlborough Sound, Otago Peninsula and Stewart Island, a few at Kaikoura.

I Mute Swan Cygnus olor

8 Lake Ellesmere.

I Black Swan Cygnus atratus

Common on most open waters.

I Canada Goose Branta canadensis

20+ Lake Poaka (Twizel) and Lake Ellesmere, and a few with young in the Hope Valley.

[I Cape Barren Goose Cereopsis novaehollandiae]

A pair with young at Sinclair Wetlands were doubtless of captive origin.

E Paradise Shelduck Tadorna variegata

Fairly common in small numbers throughout.

E Blue Duck Hymenolaimus malacorhynchus

A pair with 4 young on Manganui A Te Ao River near Raetihi.

Grey Teal Anas gracilis

A few on Tiri, Lake Rotaiti, Rotorua and Lake Ellesmere, and probably under-recorded elsewhere.

E Brown Teal Anas chlorotis

A pair on the pond near the landing pier on Tiri.

I Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Fairly common throughout.

Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa

2 Lake Taupo, 4 Sinclair Wetlands and 6 near Twizel.

I Australian Shoveler Anas rhynchotis

1-2 Awarua Bay, Lake Poaka and Lake Ellesmere, 3 on Manawatu Estuary at Foxton Beach.

E New Zealand Scaup Aythya novaeseelandiae

Locally common on open water, mostly around Rotorua, uncommon on South Island.

White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae

Fairly common throughout.

Pacific Reef-Egret Egretta sacra

1 Kaikoura.

Great Egret Ardea alba

2 singles near Okarito.

Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus

1 in flight Lake Ellesmere.

Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia

16 Lake Ellesmere and 2 on Manawatu Estuary at Foxton Beach.

Swamp Harrier Circus approximans

Fairly common throughout with a max of 15 on 22-11-99.

E New Zealand Falcon Falco novaeseelandiae

A pair calling in flight at Pureora NP and singles on the N side of the Homer Tunnel and at Mount Cook.

I Brown Quail Coturnix ypsilophora

Fairly common on Tiri.

I Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus

I near Lake Ellesmere.

I California Quail Callipepla californica

2 in Pureora Forest.

E Weka Gallirallus australis

8 Kapiti (distinctive North Island form), 6 Ulva & Stewart Islands, a few Paparoa NP and 10+ Westland.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

20 Tiri, 2 Lake Taupo and a few throughout South Island.

E Takahe Porphyrio mantelli

10+ Tiri

I Eurasian Coot Fulica atra

A few Lakes Rotorua, Taupo and Ellesmere.

Terek Sandpiper Tringa cinerea

1 Miranda 12-11-99.

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

Numerous at Miranda and up to 70 at a few localities on South Is. eg Awarua Bay.

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

1 at Cape Foulwind.

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

A few at Miranda and Awarua Bay, 40 at Kaikoura.

Red Knot Calidris canutus

Numerous at Miranda only.

E South Island Oystercatcher Haematopus finschi

Fairly common on the coast throughout.

E Variable Oystercatcher Haematopus unicolor

A few throughout.

White-headed Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus

Fairly common throughout.

E Black Stilt Himantopus novaezelandiae

One adult at Lake Poaka, Twizel.

Pacific Golden-Plover Pluvialis fulva

1 Miranda and 4 on Manawatu Estuary at Foxton Beach.

E Red-breasted Dotterel Charadrius obscurus

2 Miranda only

E Double-banded Plover Charadrius bicinctus

South Island only: 4 near Lumsden, a pair with 3 chicks near Omarama, 6 Lake Poaka, Twizel and 3 Hope Valley.

E Wrybill Anarhynchus frontalis

15+ Miranda, 9 near Omarama

Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles

Fairly common throughout.

Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus

Common throughout.

E Red-billed Gull Larus scopulinus

Fairly common throughout.

E Black-billed Gull Larus bulleri

Common at Miranda and locally on braided rivers on South Island, with 1 at Kaikoura.

E Black-fronted Tern Chlidonias albostriatus

Fairly common, nesting, on braided rivers on South Island.

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia

Up to 3 at Tiri, Punakaiki, Cape Foulwind and Lake Ellesmere.

White-fronted Tern Sterna striata

Common on the coast.

Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi

5 on Stewart Island pelagic including 1 on the nest.

Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus

4 off Tiri and two singles in Marlborough Sound.

E New Zealand Pigeon Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae

A few throughout with a max of 15 on Kapiti.

E Kea Nestor notabilis

10 near Homer Tunnel and 1 at Fox Glacier.

E Common Kaka Nestor meridionalis

20 Pureora FP, 5 Kapiti and common on Stewart Island.

I Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximius

2 Tiri, a few Pureora FP and ??

Red-fronted Parakeet Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae

Common on Tiri and a few Pureora FP, Kapiti and Stewart Island.

E Yellow-fronted Parakeet Cyanoramphus auriceps

10+ Pureora FP and 5 Lake Gunn Nature Trail.

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo Chrysococcyx lucidus

Singles seen at Rotorua, Pureora FP and Punakaiki but heard at several scattered localities.

E Long-tailed Koel Eudynamys taitensis

2 Pureora FP and heard on Kapiti.

I Little Owl Athene noctua

1 Otago Peninsula.

E Morepork Ninox novaeseelandiae

1 seen on Stewart Is., 3 heard Pureora FP & Paparoa NP and 1 heard at the Westland Petrel colony, Punakaiki.

Sacred Kingfisher Todirhamphus sanctus

A few throughout.

E Rifleman Acanthisitta chloris

2 Pureora FP and Lake Gunn Nature Trail.

E South Island Wren Xenicus gilviventris

A pair nest-building at Homer Tunnel.

E Grey Gerygone Gerygone igata

Fairly common throughout.

E Stitchbird Notiomystis cincta

6 on Tiri and 3 on Kapiti.

E New Zealand Bellbird Anthornis melanura

Fairly common throughout.

E Tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae

Fairly common throughout North Island forests and Stewart Is. but scarcer elsewhere on South Is. (although said to be common on the west coast, in Southland and Marlborough/ Nelson).

E Kokako Callaeas cinerea

Singles on Tiri and Kapiti.

E Saddleback Creadion carunculatus

Common on Tiri, 6 on Kapiti and 3 on Motuara Island, Marlborough Sound.

E Tomtit Petroica macrocephala

3 Pureora FP and Ulva Is., 2 Kapiti and Stewart Is., 4 Lake Gunn Nature Trail and Milford Sound.

E New Zealand Robin Petroica australis

Common on Kapiti and Motuara Island but only 2 on Tiri and 1 Lake Gunn Nature Trail.

E Whitehead Mohoua albicilla

Common on Tiri and Kapiti, with a few at Pureora NP.

E Yellowhead Mohoua ochrocephala

3 Lake Gunn Nature Trail + 1 heard.

E Pipipi (Brown Creeper) Mohoua novaeseelandiae

Only seen on Ulva Island where 6 were noted.

Grey Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa

Common in scrub and woodland on North Island but scarcer on South Island.

I Rook Corvus frugilegus

Only 2 sightings – 1 near Roturoa and 2 near Raetihi.

I Australasian Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen

Common in open land.

I Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula

Common throughout.

I Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

Fairly common in suitable habitat throughout.

I European Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Common throughout.

I Common Myna Acridotheres tristis

Common near Auckland.

Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena

A few throughout and common at L. Ellesmere.

Silver-eye Zosterops lateralis

Locally fairly common in suitable habitat throughout.

E Fernbird Megalurus punctatus

1 Sinclair Wetlands and 2 Paparoa NP.

I Sky Lark Alauda arvensis

Common in suitable habitat throughout.

I House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Common in inhabited areas throughout.

Australasian Pipit Anthus novaeseelandiae

Occasional sightings throughout.

I Dunnock Prunella modularis

A few Sinclair Wetlands, Stewart Island, Homer Tunnel and Kaikoura.

I Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Fairly common in suitable habitat throughout.

I European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

Fairly common in suitable habitat throughout and common at Kaikoura.

I European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

Common in suitable habitat throughout.

I Common Redpoll Carduelis flammea

Locally very common but absent from many areas.

I Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella

Fairly common in suitable habitat throughout.

I Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus

Two singles Kaikoura headland.

LIST OF MAMMALS

The only land mammals seen were introduced species such as rabbits, hares and possums. Native mammals were the following sea-based species. Nomenclature as in Sea mammals of the World (1985) by Bernard Stonehouse. Penguin.

New Zealand Fur Seal Arctocephalus forsteri

Common on Otago Peninsula, at Nuggett Pt., off Stewart Island and several Milford Sound and Kaikoura headland.

Hooker’s Sea Lion Phocarctos hookeri

Fairly common at Nuggett Point.

Sperm Whale Physeter catodon

3 off Kaikoura.

Dusky Dolphin Lagenorhynchus obscurus

6+ Marlborough Sound and 10+ off Kaikoura.

Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus

10 off Stewart Island and 6+ Milford Sound.

New Zealand Bird Links

New Zealand Birds
New Zealand Ornithological Society
New Zealand Native Species
The Fabulous KakapoKakapo, Strigops habroptilus
Kiwis
The Kiwi Realm, New York Times, 18 June 2000
Rat removers places tons of poison to protect rare birds. ENS, 7 June 2001 - Campbell Island rat removal program.

 

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