Saturday, 12 November 2016

Marlborough Sound: South Island NZ.

The view from Picton.
The ferry that runs between North & South Islands.
Our boat for the morning
Spotted Shag
This area of cliff is predator free & around 
30 pairs are breeding here.

Dawn on the 3rd November was beautiful. Picton is a lovely pace to be & this morning I saw it in all its glory. We climbed aboard the boat & set out to explore the sound. our first stop was a Spotted Shag breeding site close to the town.

The view from the boat as we motored 
down the sound.
We picked up this Eskimo girl en route!
New Zealand King Shag
One of the rarest seabirds in the world, with 
a population of between 500-600 pairs.

We landed on Blumine Island for around forty minutes & enjoyed some outstanding birding within 50 meters of the docking point.

My first Weka!
New Zealand Pigeon
Orange crowned Parakeet
This is possibly New Zealnd's rarest land bird, 
with around 200 birds.
We saw just a pair at close range 
but they were secretive.
We continued down the fjord & came across
 these New Zealand King Shags.
These birds gave much better views 
than the ones before.


South Island Robin

Most birds are ringed on this island.
A young male
South Island Saddleback

Little Blue Penguin
Fluttering Shearwater
We saw over a 1,000 birds at close quarters
 in the sound.

We made another stop at Motuara Island Reserve, where we saw a few great birds at really close range.

Habitat for the Black fronted Tern.
The group looking for the tern.
Black fronted Tern
Another cracking NZ endemic!
Declining because of introduced predators
 preying on nests.

On arriving back at Picton we boarded our minibus & headed south, first stopping at a river for Black fronted Tern. We saw a pair with a recently fledged flying young bird.

A beautiful coastline.

Big male NZ Fur Seal

Around forty individuals were seen
 on the offshore rocks.
Males are aggressive & drive other males away.

Red billed Gull

The rest of the afternoon was spent driving south along the very scenic coastline to Kaikoura. We had great views of around 40 New Zealand Fur Seals just north of the town. 

Brown Creeper
This is a south island NZ endemic.
It is a very social bird, often found in loose parties.

After checking in to our accommodation we made a quick run to an indigenous patch of forest to see Brown Creeper & we had an excellent close encounter with these very active little birds.

The backdrop to the town

The late afternoon was spent on the peninsula looking at offshore rafting Hutton's Shearwaters. Many thousands were seen but just too far for any meaningful photos.

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