5th January 1993 - 11th February 1993.
After travelling for most of the previous 24 hours, from Bristol to London and then via Los Angeles to Auckland, I arrived in Dunedin in South Island New Zealand, to start a sound recording trip for a BBC series on the people and wildlife of the Pacific Ocean called Nomads of the Wind. Then having picked up a hire car and settled into a hotel, I made a short excursion along the coast, where surprisingly my first birds were Blackbird and House Sparrow! But, then I began to see new birds, a flock of around 20 Masked Lapwings, a Pacific Harrier, several South Island Pied Oystercatchers and lots of Red-billed Gulls, also Southern Black-backed or Kelp Gulls.
Photos: Red-billed Gull adult & immature.
My first full day in South Island New Zealand, where the plan was to explore and sound record along the Otago Peninsula. After a short distance I was seeing Kelp and Red-billed Gulls, and my first of ten new bird species of the day, several Little Pied Cormorants. I was amazed at how common familar European birds were, with lots of Blackbirds, Chaffinches, Redpolls, Goldfinches, House Sparrows, Starlings, Yellowhammers, Song Thrushes and Skylarks. Along the way I saw 8+ Pacific Harriers and a Grey Warbler. Towards the tip of the peninsula I started seeing Masked Lapwings, South Island Pied Oystercatchers and Variable Oystercatchers, locally called Black Oystercatcher. In a rocky bay near the point were Little Penguins and New Zealand Fur Seals, and on the headland a colony of Northern Royal Albatrosses. Not far away amongst the dunes I saw Yellow-eyed Penguins and on the cliffs near the headland were Spotted Shags and a large colony of Bronze Shags. A short drive away on a freshwater lake there were plenty of Mallard, also White-faced Herons and lots of Pied Stilts.
Photos: Little Pied Cormorants.
Northern Royal Albatross.
Spotted Shag, immatures.
Spotted Shag, adult.
New Zealand Fur Seals.
Spotted Shag, immature.
My second full day sound recording in South Island New Zealand, starting along the Otago Peninsula where the first new bird for the trip was Pukeko or Australasian Swamphen, until recently treated as a sub-species of Purple Gallinule or Swamphen. That was followed by a Welcome Swallow and then an Australian Magpie. Seeing many of the species I had seen yesterday I headed towards the headland where there was a Pacific Reef Heron feeding in one of the bays, also I watched an adult Variable Oystercatcher feeding a well grown chick, and, with the other waders there were several Bar-tailed Godwits. From the cliffs I saw Bronze and Spotted Shags again, and nearby an Australasian Pipit, formally treated as a race of Richard's Pipit. I continued to the pools and lagoons to the south of the peninsula, first seeing a Bellbird in the bushes and then Paradise Shelducks, Grey Teals, about 50 Black Swans and a Sacred Kingfisher, also at the lagoons were lots of South Island Pied Oystercatchers, Pied Stilts, Masked Lapwings and White-faced Herons.
Photos: Variable Oystercatcher, adult & juvenile.
Spotted Shag, adult.
A day spent on the Otago Peninsula, seeing many of the same species as previous days. New birds in this area were Rifleman, the smallest of New Zealand's birds and one of the two remaining species of the endemic New Zealand Wrens. The other was Silvereye, of which I saw eight. But, the main purpose today was to record Yellow-eyed Penguins. At this time of year most pairs have young chicks and the only calls they make is a greeting call given by one adult to the other as they return to the nest site. Their nests were scattered over a large area of dunes with low scrubby bushes, so to find a suitable nest I had to watch several clumps of bushes as the birds returned to feed, and then wait until they departed. Placing the microphone by the nest and laying the cable back to another bush, where I hid with the recorder was the easy bit, the long wait for the adults to return was the uncomfortable part. Sitting in a bush for what I hoped would be a couple hours turned into most of the day, the birds returned three times and only on the last return did they give the calls I was after, but a least I got them.
On the way back, on the outskirts of Dunedin, I saw my third new bird for the day a New Zealand Pigeon and another introduced mammal, a Brush-tailed Possum, to add to the mammal list of Rabbit and Hedgehog.
Photos: Immature & adult Red-billed Gulls.
My last day recording on the Otago Peninsula, seeing many of the same birds as in previous days in a variety of habitats.
I saw Little Shag, Kelp Gull, Red-billed Gull, Mallard, Grey Teal, Pied Stilt, South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Yellowhammer, House Sparrow, Dunnock, 3 Bellbirds, 6 Grey Warblers, Masked Plover, Sacred Kingfisher, Silvereye, Paradise Shelduck, Black Swan, Bar-tailed Godwit, Starling, Australian Magpie, Skylark, Redpoll, White-faced Heron, Blackbird, Pacific Harrier, Welcome Swallow, Black Rat, Hedgehog, Rabbit and Stoat.
On the beach near the tip of the peninsula were Southern Fur Seals and Little Penguins, one of which was calling from a crevice in some rocks.
Little Penguin in sea cave on Otago Peninsula.
A drive south from Dunedin with my first stop at Nugget Point, a good place to see Hooker's Sea Lions and there was a group of them on the rocks below. I also saw Spotted Shag, Kelp Gull, Red-billed Gull, Cormorant and Silvereye.
I continued south to Invercargill, stopping at various places along the way, seeing White-faced Heron, Pied Stilt, Masked Plover, South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Mallard, New Zealand Pigeon, Silvereye, Bellbird, a Pukeko and 2 Tuis.
Overnight in Invercargill, in the morning I drove south to explore Awarua Bay, here I saw South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Black Swan, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, a pair of Double-banded Plovers with 2 chicks and another single bird, Kelp Gull, Red-billed Gull, Little Shag, Masked Plover, Knot, a Curlew Sandpiper, a Grey-tailed Tattler, Cormorant and Paradise Shelduck.
Later I drove back to Invercargill and then west, stopping at Riverton, where there was a Black-fronted Tern.
From there I continued west and then north where my next stop was Rowallan Forest. Here in the towering trees, including the beautiful Southern Rata (Metrosideros umbellata) I saw Australian Magpie, Blackbird, New Zealand Pigeon, Grey Warbler, Bellbird, Silvereye, Tomtit and Tui.
Photo: Southern Rata.
The morning in Rowallan Forest seeing 2 Pukekos or Purple Swamphens, a Pacific Harrier, Masked Plover, Tui, Bellbird, Grey Warbler, a Kaka, Australian Magpie and a Yellowhead. From there I contined north to Te Anau, the gateway into Fiordland. (Below).
On the lake at Te Anau were several Black-billed Gulls, an inland breeding species. Also a Kelp Gull, Mallard, Canada Geese and 4 New Zealand Scaup.
I continued north into Fiordland, stopping at Mirror Lake where I saw more New Zealand Scaup, Grey Duck, Grey Warbler and Tomtit.
From there it was a short drive to my accommodation for the next 3 nights at the motel at Cascade Creek.
Photos: Black-billed Gull, Kelp Gull with Black-billed Gulls, New Zealand Scaup, Grey Duck.
Around the motel at Cascade Creek I saw my first new bird of the day, a South Island Robin, recently split from New Zealand Robin, I also saw Rifleman and plenty of Chaffinches, in fact, Chaffinches were everywhere and formed the audio backdrop to all the forested areas. As I drove further into Fiordland the scenery was spectacular, but I saw very few birds except for a few Paradise Shelduck on one of the lakes. Arriving at the car park by the tunnel leading to Milford Sound I saw the birds I had come to record, Keas, 6 of them, perched on rocks and on the ground around the cars, giving their shrill, piercing calls whenever they flew around. Luckily most people left quite quickly after watching them, mainly due to the birds landing on their vehicles and pecking at the rubber around the glass or attacking their mirrors and aerials.
On the way back I stopped in an area of Southern Beech Forest where I saw Tomtit, Blackbird, New Zealand Fantail, Bellbird, Redpoll, Silvereye, New Zealand Pigeon and Kaka, also a Stoat, which is disastrous for all the ground nesting birds here.
Photos: Fiordland, Milford Sound tunnel, Keas.
My second day in Fiordland began in the Southern Beech Forest where I saw Tomtit, New Zealand Fantail, New Zealand Pigeon, Grey Warbler, Silvereye, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Redpoll, Chaffinch, Rifleman, Bellbird and Kaka. By the roadside were Yellowhammers and on the lakes Paradise Shelduck and I also saw a Sacred Kingfisher.
Stopping at the tunnel car park again I saw several Keas and an excellent view of a New Zealand Falcon as it flew overhead.
Photos: Fiordland forset.
I continued through the tunnel and down the other side of the mountain to Milford Sound. Here I did the tourist bit and took a boat trip around the inlet. As we left I saw Little Shag and Kelp Gull, nothing else until the boat had almost left the sound, and on some distant rocks were 6 Fiordland Crested Penguins.
Photos: Below: Milford Sound.
Returning through the tunnel, I stopped to make more recordings of the Keas, during which I could hear a thin, piping song coming from rocks near the cliff-face. As I approached first one little yellow bird appeared and then a second, New Zealand Rock Wrens, there was too much noise from all the waterfalls to get a recording, but I did managed to get a few photos before they disappeared.
Photo right: Cliff-face near Milford Sound tunnel.
Photos below: New Zealand Rock Wren.
Leaving Cascade Creek and Fiordland I headed south towards Knobs Flats, stopping in some Southern Beech Forest, where I saw Rifleman, Tomtit, a Brown Creeper, Grey Warbler, Chaffinch, South Island Robin, Bellbird, New Zealand Fantail and 4 Yellow-crowned or Yellow-fronted Parakeets.
At the Mirror Lakes I saw New Zealand Pigeon, New Zealand Scaup, Grey Duck, Rifleman, New Zealand Robin, Tui and Bellbird.
I continued to Te Anau where there was Black-billed Gull, Black-fronted Tern, Pacific Harrier and Paradise Shelduck.
From there I drove to Lake Tekapo and my accommodation for the next two nights.
Photos: Southern Beech Forest.
New Zealand Fantail.
A day exploring Lake Tekapo and the River Cass, seeing Pacific Harrier, Black Swan, Mallard, 8 Double-banded Plovers, South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Skylark, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Redpoll, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer, House Sparrow, Black-fronted Tern, Kelp Gull and Welcome Swallow.
Photos: River Cass, Double-banded Plover.
Return to the River Cass looking for Black Stilt, probably too late in the season as I found no sign of them, but I did see Pacific Harrier, 3 Brown Hares, South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Black-fronted Tern, Kelp Gull, Paradise Shelduck, Masked Plover, a Caspian Tern, Feral/Rock Dove, Starling, Skylark, Yellowhammer, Double-banded Plover, Australasian Pipit and Canada Geese.
Later a drive back to Dunedin and an overnight stay.
Photos: River Cass, Double-banded Plover.
The morning in Dunedin and then a flight to Auckland.
Overnight in Auckland, in the morning I headed southeast to the Firth of Thames, seeing Common Mynah, Pukako, Pacific Harrier and Australian Magpie along the way.
I spent the rest of the day at Miranda, an area of coastal mudflats at the base of the Firth of Thames on its western shore, renowned for its huge numbers of wintering waders.
Here I saw Welcome Swallow, lots of South Island Pied Oystercatchers a species which breeds in the South Island and mainly winters in the North Island, as does Wrybill, of which there was a flock of around 300 birds.
I also saw Pied Stilt, Knot, Kelp Gull, Red-billed Gull, Skylark, Mallard, Cormorant, Bar-tailed Godwit, White-faced Heron, Common Mynah, 4 Royal Spoonbills, a Little Black Shag, 4 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Turnstone, a New Zealand Dotterel, Little Tern, a White-fronted Tern, a Caspian Tern, a Double-banded Plover, Masked Plover and Australian Magpies.
Photos: above Firth of Thames at Miranda, below Wrybills.
From Miranda I travelled southeast to the Bay of Plenty, to the coastal Matata Lagoons, a site for Fernbird which I failed to see.
But I did see Mallard, Black Swan, New Zealand Scaup, New Zealand Shoveler, Australian race of Coot, a New Zealand Dabchick, an Australian Bittern, Pukako, Pacific Harrier, Yellowhammer, Kelp Gull, Red-billed Gull, Welcome Swallow, Silvereye and a Brown Quail.
I then headed inland to the Rotorua Lakes, where there was New Zealand Dabchick, Black Swan, Coot, New Zealand Scaup, Mallard, Paradise Shelduck, Australian Magpie and Pacific Harrier.
From there I made a brief visit to Urewera National Park, where I saw Bellbird, 10+ Tuis, Tomtit, Grey Warbler, a Kaka and New Zealand Pigeon.
Photo: Urewera National Park.
A drive south with a stop at the Tukituki River, where I saw 2 pairs each with 2 chicks of Double-banded Plovers, Pied Stilt, Masked Plover, Little Shag and a Black-fronted Dotterel.
I contined to Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre, which not only has a large collection of native birds in enclosures and cages, it also has areas of native forest where I saw Tuis and New Zealand Fantails.
But most of the time was spent recording the captive birds, when they decided to sing or call inbetween noise and people.
From here a short drive to Masterton for a two night stay.
Photos: Forest at Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre.
A wet and windy day in North Island New Zealand, spent mainly in the motel at Masterton.
An early return to Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre to record before the public turned up.
While I was there I saw New Zealand Fantail, Grey Warbler, Whitehead, Tui, Australian Magpie and Yellow-fronted Parakeet.
Later, I drove to Wellington meeting up with producer Mark Jacob and cameraman Gavin Thurston.
Leaving the hotel in Wellington, Mark, Gavin and I drove to the nearby heliport, where our next mode of transport, a small two-seater helicopter, was waiting. With only one spare seat and a lot of equipment to take it took most of the morning to get us onto north Brother's Island, the larger of two islands in the Cook Strait off the north coast of South Island.
It took a while to settle into the cottage, by the old lighthouse, and unpack all the gear, but once done then we could explore the island - which didn't take very long.
We had come to Brother's Island to film the Brother's Island Tuatara which had only recently been declared a separate species, an ancient reptile, not a lizard, which precedes the dinosaurs and whose lineage is thought to be over 200 million years old. But now, once again, it seems to be considered a sub-species of Tuatara.
Brother's Island is also good for other reptiles and of course for seabirds. Many of the reptiles are only seen at night, as are some of the birds and its position looking north over the Cook Strait makes it excellent to see passing seabirds.
During the afternoon and evening I saw Red-billed Gull, Kelp Gull, White-fronted Tern, a New Zealand King Shag, 3 Buller's Shearwaters, a couple of Brother's Island Tuataras, Common Skink, Duvaucel's Gecko, Futtering Shearwater, Southern Fur Seals, Diving Petrel, Fairy Prion, Common Gecko, Dunnock and Australasian Pipit.
Photos: Little Brother's Island looking south from northern Brother's Island.
Juvenile White-fronted Tern.
Brother's Island Tuatara.
Juvenile Fairy Prion still with some down.
Our first full day on Brother's Island and we awoke to a force 8 northerly gale with frequent rain showers.
For Mark and Gavin this wasn't so bad as they had a Tuatara set to construct, but I couldn't do any sound recording so I went seawatching.
I found a large rock over-looking the northern tip of the island which gave some protection from the wind and rain, but I still got soaked.
During the almost all day seawatch I saw Red-billed Gull, Buller's Shearwater, Diving Petrel, Fluttering Shearwater, 2 Australian Gannets, Fairy Prion, 2 Little Shearwaters, Sooty Shearwater, a Southern or Brown Skua feeding on a Fairy Prion, a Westland Black Petrel, 4 Flesh-footed Shearwaters, at least 2 Hutton's Shearwaters, a Cape Pigeon and an Arctic Skua.
Later, in the evening the wind began to drop and we saw more Brother's Island Tuataras and New Zealand Common Geckos.
Photo: Looking north from Brother's Island across the Cook Strait to the coast of North Island.
Still on Brother's Island and this morning the wind had dropped a little, on a walk around the island I saw Red-billed Gull, Kelp Gull, White-fronted Tern, a pair of Dunnocks at a nest with eggs, a Pacific Harrier, Southern Fur Seal, 2 Starlings and a Spotted Skink.
In the afternoon the wind began to increase again and by evening there was a strong northerly wind, so, time for more seawatching, seeing Fairy Prion, Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, 8 Australian Gannets, Diving Petrel, a Pied Shag, 3 Northern or Hall's Giant Petrels, a Buller's Albatross and a Short-tailed Shearwater.
Photos: Adult White-fronted Tern.
Still quite a windy start to the day, the female Dunnock was sat on 3 eggs and the Pacific Harrier was still around, in the distance on one of the smaller rocky islands I could see a New Zealand King Shag colony.
The sea was still rough with the wind still in the north, during a few hours seawatching I saw Red-billed Gull, White-fronted Tern, Sooty Shearwater, Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwater, Fairy Prion, Diving Petrel, Kelp Gull, 4 Australian Gannets, a Pied Shag, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Cormorant, a Black-billed Gull and a Black-browed Albatross.
By evening the wind had dropped and we went searching for and found more Brother's Island Tuataras and a Duvaucel's Gecko.
Photos: Adult White-fronted Tern.
Brother's Island Tuatara.
Our last morning on Brother's Island and the weather was fine, the wind had dropped and I had a last look at the sea, seeing Red-billed Gull, White-fronted Tern, Fairy Prion, Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwater, 2 Arctic Skuas, Sooty Shearwater, Australian Gannet and Kelp Gull.
Then we packed up and did the helicopter shuttle back to Wellington, and from there a flight to Aukland.
From Aukland we drove north to Tutukaka on the east coast.
Photo: Adult with juvenile White-fronted Tern.
Leaving Tutukaka on a two hour boat trip to the Poor Knight Islands, two small islands situated in the straits between the much larger islands of Tawhiti Rahi in the north and Aorangi to the south, about 14 miles offshore. Leaving the inlet we saw Little Shag and Kelp Gulls, then not much for a while, but approaching the island there were 1000's of Buller's Shearwaters, around 15 Black Petrels, Australian Gannets, at least 6 Pycroft's Petrels, a Little Penguin and Sooty Shearwaters.
Reaching the southern of the two islands we unloaded all the equipment and camping gear onto a boulder-strewn beach, then tried to find a level area to pitch the tents, there wasn't one, so areas with the least slope and fewest stones were selected.
Then we had to wait for the arrival of Maori elders who were to perform a greeting and welcome ceremony to the island. Their boat arrived about an hour after we had landed and the ceremony began, taking around half an hour, it was both fascinating and friendly, and only after their departure could we start putting up the tents.
We had come to the island to film and record Buller's Shearwaters returning to their nesting burrows at night and departing in the morning, and to film Northern Tuatara also nocturnal. This would not be easy, as only on this side of the island was there a beach, with the rest of the island covered by almost impenetrable tall trees and bushes.
Later, I had a walk along the top of the beach seeing a Bellbird, a Red-fronted Parakeet, Welcome Swallows, 2 Sacred Kingfishers, Pied Shag, 8 Common Mynahs, Pacific Harrier, 2 Starlings, 4 House Sparrows, Red-billed Gulls and a Little Penguin.
As dusk approached we moved into position to view the woodland, at first a few Buller's Shearwaters arrived, crashing into the trees and flapping through the branches to reach the ground and disappearing inland. As it became darker 100's poured in and the sounds of their calls intensified, broken only by the sounds of breaking branches, this spectacular event went on for over an hour.
After a rest and some food it was time to look for the next target species. We set off along the beach and found a narrow track inland through the trees, following it wasn't easy even with torches, but eventually we found a female Northern Tuatara, which Gavin spent some time filming, not that it did a lot.
During this excursion we also saw 4 Duvaucel's Geckos, a Pacific Gecko, a Black Shore Skink, Marbled Skink and a New Zealand Giant Centipede.
Red-fronted Parakeet. Buller's Shearwater on forest floor.
Female Northern Tuatara. Black Shore Skink.
Marbled Skink. New Zealand Giant Centipede.
After a few hours of uncomfortable sleep, even on a travel mattress, the sloping beach and stones won.
We were out well before dawn and already the island was full of noise, Buller's Shearwaters calling and crashing around in the trees.
They had spent the night in their burrows, but in order to get back out to sea they had to gain height to fly, and the only way to do that was to climb the trees in the dark. So, as well as their calls there was a lot of flapping, foliage rustling and twig snapping.
By first light most of the shearwaters had left and we returned to camp for breakfast.
Later, I walked along the beach and into the woodland seeing Bellbird, Red-fronted Parakeet, Pied Shag, Pacific Harrier, Common Mynah, Kelp and Red-billed Gulls, 3 Sacred Kingfishers, Welcome Swallow, Australian Gannet, 4 Starlings, Blackbird, 2 Song Thrushes, a Little Penguin and a Spotless Crake, apparently, unlike the mainland where they are found in marshes, on the Poor Knights they are forest birds.
Along the beach I also saw a Purple Rock Crab.
Towards evening we went looking for Tuatara and found another or the same female again, also a Fairy Prion which landed on the forest floor.
Photos: Buller's Shearwater. Northern Tuatara. Fairy Prion.
Purple Rock Crab.
Our last full day on the Poor Knights Islands and the routine was the same, Buller's Shearwaters departing before dawn and arriving after dusk.
On the island during the day I saw Bellbird, Red-fronted Parakeet, Common Mynah, Pacific Harrier, Pied Shag, Kelp and Red-billed Gulls, Blackbird, Starling, Welcome Swallow, Sacred Kingfisher, Australian Gannet, a Sooty Shearwater and 2 Fairy Prions.
Photo: Red-fronted Parakeet.
By the time the boat arrived around mid morning we had packed up and were ready to leave. I had a last look along the beach seeing Bellbird, Red-fronted Parakeet, Common Myna and Welcome Swallow.
On the boat trip back to the mainland there were lots of Buller's Shearwaters on the sea and several Australian Gannets.
Later, we drove south to Sandspit for a three night stay.
Buller's Shearwater Australian Gannet
2nd & 3rd February.
The 2nd was spent in Sandspit as it was raining most of the day.
On the 3rd Peter Crawford arrived and he and Mark discussed to next stage of filming, while Gavin and I took a short boat ride to nearby Kawau Island, where from the boat we saw Australian Gannets, Pacific Reef Heron, Pied Shag and Variable Oystercatchers, the island holds almost the entire population of the North Island race of Weka, of which we saw at least 8 birds, also seen were Silvereye, Grey Warbler and a Peafowl.
Juvenile Weka. Immature Weka.
Juvenile Weka. Adult Weka.
Below: Adult Wekas.
An early boat trip from Sandspit to Little Barrier Island for a six night stay, on the journey seeing Australian Gannet, Little Shearwater, Buller's Shearwater, Fluttering Shearwater, Black Petrel and Cook's Petrel.
On Little Barrier Island Gavin and I were staying in the hut with the volunteers, the producers in the house.
After getting the luggage and equipment sorted, I had a walk around the edge the forest, seeing Bellbird, Whitehead, Welcome Swallow, Grey Warbler, 4 Brown Teal, Saddleback, Common Myna, House Sparrow, Sacred Kingfisher, North Island Robin - now split, Tomtit, Red-crowned Parakeet, New Zealand Pigeon, New Zealand Fantail and futher into the forest 5 Long-tailed Cuckoos.
On an evening walk in a coastal grassy area there were 2 Morepork Owls and 2 Brown Kiwis.
Photos: Coast of Little Barrier Island.
A day spent sound recording in the forest, seeing Kaka, Bellbird, Tui, Welcome Swallow, Whitehead, New Zealand Fantail, Tomtit, Saddleback, Grey Warbler, New Zealand Pigeon, Red-crowned Parakeet, Long-tailed Cuckoo and Pacific Harrier.
In the evening near the hut there were 2 New Zealand Long-tailed Bats.
Photos: Little Barrier Island forest.
Another morning recording in the forest on Little Barrier Island, seeing Kaka, Bellbird, Tui, Long-tailed Cuckoo, Saddleback, Whitehead, New Zealand Fantail, Grey Warbler, Welcome Swallow, Rifleman and New Zealand Pigeon.
Later, a walk along the coast from where I saw Pied Shag, Australian Gannet, Buller's Shearwater and 1 possibly 2 Sei Whales, also a Polynessian Rat.
Towards evening on a walk around the grassland area I saw 6 Brown Teal, a New Zealand Short-tailed Bat and a Brown Kiwi.
Photos: Forest on Little Barrier Island.
This morning started with a walk along the coast, seeing a White-faced Heron, a Pacific Harrier, Pied Shag and Australian Gannets.
Peter Crawford arrived by boat with a guy who was to play the part of a traditional Maori hunter.
They used a pole snare to catch birds, mainly Kakas, but first we had to catch a Kaka. This took some time as the birds were wary of our trap, (food, an old garden sieve, a twig and a long piece of string), eventually we caught one, which complained loudly as we took it out of the trap, which attracted the rest of its group which settled in the trees above us, screaming at us, which went on for ages.
We only needed a shot of a Kaka with string around its leg, which was done quickly, and we released the bird, which flew to its friends and then the whole flock disappeared for the rest of the day.
Later I went back into the forest, but never saw or heard a Kaka, so they must have moved some distance.
Photos: Traditional Maori bird hunter.
A day spent in the forest, firstly seeing a Morepork and then several Kakas, which had returned to the trees near the hut.
On the walk through the forest there was Bellbird, Tui, Saddleback, New Zealand Fantail, 4 Stitchbirds, Whitehead, Red-crowned Parakeet, Rifleman, Long-tailed Cuckoo, North Island Robin and New Zealand Pigeon.
Photos: Forest on Little Barrier Island.
North Island Robin.
My last full day on Little Barrier Island, once again I went sound recording in the forest, this time walking further and higher up the ridge to around 1,200 feet, seeing Kaka, Bellbird, Welcome Swallow, Whitehead, North Island Robin, Rifleman, New Zealand Fantail, New Zealand Pigeon, Long-tailed Cuckoo, Tomtit, Stitchbird, Red-crowned Parakeet, Grey Warbler, Saddleback, and as I got to the top of the path my way was blocked by a fallen tree, I was just about to turn back when I heard an amazing musical song, the quality of song that stays in your memory, then I saw the bird, a Kokako, an endangered and difficult bird to see in North Island.
I had arranged with the volunteer leader to go on a night visit to the Kakapo display site, where there is a hide to view the male booming, it is limited to 3 people per night and this would be my only chance to see the bird. But when I returned to the hut there was a new group of volunteers and a new leader, who very officiously informed me that I couldn't go, something that still annoys me even now.
Photos: Lichens in Little Barrier Island forest and Kakas.
After packing up the equipment I had time for a last look around the forest by the hut, seeing Kaka, Whitehead, New Zealand Fantail, Bellbird, Tui and Grey Warbler.
Waiting for the boat I saw Pacific Harrier, Brown Teal and Pied Shag, and from the boat on the journey to Sandspit there was Australian Gannet, Buller's Shearwater and a Caspian Tern.
From Sandspit we drove to Auckland, then the next night I flew to Fiji.