Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Two weeks in New Zealand

My wife and I are nearing the end of two and a half fantastic weeks in New Zealand. We were initially in Dunedin for a conference, after which we drove more than 2500 km on the South Island, covering most of the east and north coast from Curio Bay in the very south to Farewell Spit in the far north west, staying in Dunedin, Akaroa, Kaikoura and Picton and then crossing Cook Strait by ferry to Wellington on the North Island.

Of the 326 species listed in Robertson and Heather (see full reference below), 66 species are pelagic, 47 species are migratory waders and, of the remaining species, 41 have been introduced from Europe, Asia, Australia or North America and many more are rare or uncommon vagrants from Australia or the tropical Pacific. This leaves less than 90 species native or endemic to New Zealand and many of these occur only on small outlying islands. However, what it lacks in diversity, NZ avifauna makes up for in quantity, accessibility and uniqueness so it is a great place to go birding.

While we have not been deliberately twitching, we've taken organised wildlife encounters and cruises and visited key wildlife locations wherever we could along the way and managed to sight 79 bird species (all common names taken from Hugh Robertson and Barrie Heather, The Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, revised edition, Penguin Books, 2005):
  • Little Spotted Kiwi
  • New Zealand Dabchick
  • Royal Albatross (Southern and Northern races)
  • Wandering Albatross
  • Shy Mollymawk (= Shy Albatross: NZ White-capped and Salvin's subspecies)
  • Northern Giant Petrel
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Fluttering Shearwater
  • Hutton's Shearwater
  • White-chinned Petrel
  • Westland Petrel
  • Cape Pigeon (= Cape Petrel)
  • Yellow-eyed Penguin
  • Blue Penguin (= Little Penguin)
  • Australasian Gannet
  • Black Shag (= Great Cormorant)
  • Pied Shag (= Pied Cormorant)
  • Little Black Shag (= Little Black Cormorant)
  • Little Shag (= Little Pied Cormorant)
  • Spotted Shag
  • King Shag
  • Stewart Island Shag
  • White-faced Heron
  • Royal Spoonbill
  • Black Swan
  • Canada Goose
  • Feral Goose
  • Paradise Shelduck
  • Mallard
  • Grey Duck (= Pacific Black Duck)
  • Grey Teal
  • Brown Teal
  • New Zealand Scaup
  • Australasian Harrier (= Swamp Harrier)
  • California Quail
  • Weka
  • Marsh Crake (= Baillon's Crake)
  • Takahe
  • Pukeko (= Purple Swamphen)
  • Pied Oystercatcher
  • Variable Oystercatcher
  • Spur-winged Plover (= Masked Lapwing)
  • Pied Stilt (= Black-winged Stilt)
  • Banded Dotterel (= Double-banded Plover)
  • Turnstone (= Ruddy Turnstone)
  • Bar-tailed Godwit
  • Black-backed Gull (= Kelp Gull)
  • Red-billed Gull (= Silver Gull)
  • Black-billed Gull
  • Caspian Tern
  • White-fronted Tern
  • New Zealand Pigeon
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Kaka
  • Yellow-crowned Parakeet
  • Red-crowned Parakeet
  • Kingfisher (= Sacred Kingfisher)
  • Welcome Swallow
  • Silvereye
  • Grey Warbler
  • Blackbird (= Common Blackbird)
  • Song Thrush
  • Skylark (= Eurasian Skylark)
  • New Zealand Pipit
  • Fantail
  • Tomtit
  • New Zealand Robin
  • Tui
  • Stitchbird
  • Bellbird
  • Saddleback
  • House Sparrow
  • Chaffinch
  • Red Poll
  • Goldfinch (= European Goldfinch)
  • Greenfinch
  • Yellowhammer
  • Starling (= Common Starling)
  • Australian Magpie
as well as one species, Morepork, heard but not seen.

I took over 5000 photographs on this trip so it's going to take a while to process these. So, while this is a post without photographs, I will endeavour to post the highlights retrospectively as quickly as possible while I work through each day's collection and I'll link them below.

23 Nov   Royal Albatross Centre on Otago Peninsula
27 Nov   Otago Peninsula Wildlife Cruise
               Brighton Beach
               Penguin Place
28 Nov   The Catlins
               Royal Albatross Centre Guided Walk
29 Nov   Drive to Akaroa
30 Nov   Coast Up Close Wildlife Cruise
1 Dec     Drive to Kaikoura
2 Dec     Albatross Encounter
              Whale Watch
3 Dec    Drive to Picton
4 Dec    Drive to Farewell Spit
5 Dec    Motuara Island Birdwatching Cruise and Walk
6 Dec    Zealandia (Wellington)
9 Dec    Zealandia Night Walk

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