12th November 1993 - 24th November 1993
Arrived in New Zealand the previous day, after a flight from Hong Kong to Aukland, then on to Dunedin in the South Island. I was here to collect recordings for two BBC programmes, mainly a series on insects and also for the series 'Nomads of the Wind'.
There were two target species here for the insect series, so my first stop was Otago University. It took ages to find anyone in the entomology department, but finally I did, luckily he was the person I needed to see about recording Alpine Wetas. The bad news was that nobody knew I was coming and it was the start of the summer holidays, so everyone else had gone! He said he didn't have any wetas at present, but we could go and collect some on Sunday, today was Friday, which was really kind of him, but it would also aid with his research.
The other project I had to record was on introduced wasps, and the way the forestry department dealt with the enormous nests which now occur in many of New Zealand's woodlands. But, as I found out earlier, everyone was on holiday, so I had to scrap that part of the trip.
As it was still early I decided to have drive around the Otago Peninsula, new species will be in bold. During the day I saw Red-billed Gull, Starling, House Sparrow, Little Pied Cormorant, Kelp Gull, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Skylark, Yellowhammer, Dunnock, then from the end of the peninsula 4 Northern Royal Albatrosses, Spotted Shag, Stewart Island Shag, White-fronted Tern, New Zealand Fur Seals, 100's of Sooty Shearwaters, a Westland Black Petrel and a Shy Albatross. Also seeing Pacific Harrier, Variable Oystercatcher, White-faced Heron, Mallard, Greenfinch, Pied Stilt, Paradise Shelduck, Masked Plover, Black Swan, Grey Teal, Grey Duck, Australian Magpie, Welcome Swallow, Sacred Kingfisher, Chaffinch, Redpoll, Bellbird and Grey Warbler.
Today I drove north from Dunedin to Twizel, on the way seeing lots of introduced birds, also Pukeko, South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Pacific Harrier, Red-billed Gull, Kelp Gull, White-faced Heron, Paradise Shelduck, Australian Magpie, Masked Plover, Pied Stilt, Welcome Swallow and a Little Owl. At Twizel there is a captive breeding centre for Black Stilts, and, there were 3 recently released free-flying immature birds feeding in a creek nearby. It was these I had come to record and they didn't disappoint, calling frequently to the birds in the cages.
On the way back I visited several places along the Cass River to where it feeds into Lake Tekapo, seeing Black-fronted Tern, Masked Plover, South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Banded Dotterel, an adult Black Stilt, Pied Stilt, Paradise Shelduck and Black-billed Gull.
I returned to Otago University to pick up the weta man, then drove north to the Rock and Pilar Range, where between the slates of rock he found several Alpine Weta, also seen were Australasian Pipit, South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Masked Plover and 4 Rooks. Back at the university the wetas did make some sounds, a buzzy alarm when picked up.
Below Rock and Pilar range.
Dark and light phase Alpine Wetas.
I still had 6 days to spend in South Island, with the collapse of the wasp excursion, I decided to go to Stewart Island. Driving south I stopped at The Reservoir in the McClennan Range seeing Silvereye, Grey Warbler, Bellbird, Tomtit, Fantail, Pacific Harrier, New Zealand Pigeon and a Fernbird. In the George Road area there were 6 Gull-billed Terns.
Later, in Bluff I left the car and caught the ferry to Half Moon Bay on Stewart Island, where I booked into the backpackers hostel, the only place to stay and the main building on the island. This area has now grown and is called Oban, with many more houses and buildings.
Today I took a boat trip from the harbour to Ulva Island, which was surprisingly forested, during the trip I saw Spotted Shag, Stewart Island Shag, Red-billed Gull, Kelp Gull, Tui, Bellbird, Brown Creeper, Kaka, Grey Warbler, Variable Oystercatcher, a pair of Stewart Island race Weka, Tomtit, Fantail, Red-crowned Parakeet, New Zealand Pigeon, White-fronted Tern, Yellow-crowned Parakeet and Silvereye.
On the return to Half Moon Bay there were 3 Yellow-eyed Penguins and a Little Penguin.
Right: New Zealand Pigeon.
Below: Ulva Island with Cabbage Trees.
This morning I joined a tourist fishing trip which was going east out of Half Moon Bay, not that I was interested in catching fish, but hoped to see seabirds.
The sea was calm as we sailed out and for the rest of the morning, we saw New Zealand Fur Seal, Pied Shag, Stewart Island Shag, White-fronted Tern, Kelp and Red-billed Gulls. Once a few miles out we were followed by up to 10 Shy Albatrosses which stayed around the boat for several hours, we also saw 8+ Diving Petrels, 2 Brown or Southern Great Skuas, 2 Fairy Prions, 3 Broad-billed Prions, an Antarctic Tern, a Cape Petrel, 2 White-faced Storm Petrels and a Mottled Petrel. In the early afternoon we could see a storm moving in and the waves began breaking over the boat, so the skipper headed back.
Back on land I decided to go for a walk along the only road which lead away from the harbour, to Mill Creek, a distance of only a few hundred yards. I saw Tui, Bellbird, New Zealand Pigeon and a Sacred Kingfisher.
Above: Shy Albatrosses.
Another boat trip today, this time a tourist boat which mainly went around Half Moon Bay. During the couple of hours or so we were out I saw 12 Shy Albatrosses, 4 Cape Petrels, 20+ Diving Petrels, 100's of Sooty Shearwaters, Stewart Island Shag, Spotted Shag, 5 Yellow-eyed Penguins, New Zealand Fur Seals, Red-billed and Kelp Gulls and 2 Brown Skuas.
Returning I walked to Mill Creek again seeing Tui, Bellbird, Fantail, Silvereye, Tomtit, South Island Robin, New Zealand Pigeon and Sacred Kingfisher.
Later, an evening boat trip past Ulva Island to Glory Cove seeing Stewart Island Shag, 5 Diving Petrels, 8 Little Penguins, a Cape Petrel and on Ocean Beach 3 Tokoeka or Southern Brown Kiwis, a male and 2 females.
My last day on Stewart Island, in the morning another trip to Ulva Island seeing Tui, Bellbird, Fantail, Brown Creeper, New Zealand Pigeon, a Long-tailed Cuckoo, Variable Oystercatcher, Red-crowned Parakeet, White-fronted Tern, Kelp Gull, Grey Warbler, Stewart Island Shag, Pacific Harrier, Yellow-eyed Penguin and on the beach a pair of Wekas with an immature.
Later, I caught the ferry back to Bluff, on the way seeing Diving Petrel, Sooty Shearwater and a Cape Petrel. From there a drive to Dunedin.
Right: Cabbage Tree on Ulva Island.
20th and 21st November.
In Dunedin, then a flight to Aukland.
Leaving Aukland I drove to Miranda on the Firth of Thames, to record waders, as the tide came in I saw Pied Stilt, a Royal Spoonbill, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Masked Plover, White-faced Heron, White-fronted Tern, 31 Wrynecks, a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red-billed and Kelp Gulls, Paradise Shelduck, South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Welcome Swallow, Sacred Kingfisher, a Cormorant, 6 Pacific Harriers, Turnstone, a Black-billed Gull, Australian Magpie, Tui, Silvereye, 2 Pied Shags, Spotted Shag, a New Zealand Dotterel and a Red-necked Stint.
A drive south to the Whakapapa River on the west side of Tongariro Forest Park, where there was a male and female Blue Duck.
My last full day in New Zealand, I drove back to Aukland via Lake Taupo, stopping briefly I saw New Zealand Scaup, Black-billed Gull, Little Black Shag and Black Swan.