Sunday, 13 November 2016

Stewart Island

The mountain pass near Queenstown.
Even though it was an overcast morning, 
it was still spectacular scenery.

The ferry.
Spotted Shag in Bluff harbour.

I was excited! it is 8th November & I am on my way to Stewart Island! This is a large island off the tip of the main south island & world renowned for its wildlife. But first we had to drive south to catch the ferry. The crossing was uneventful with few seabirds been seen.

My first view of Stewart Island.

This is the view from inside the harbour!
It is a small place with only 400 residents.
My home from home for the next two nights.
Stewart Island race of Kaka.
Tame & confiding here.

The ferry to Ulva Island.
Ulva Island
Pristine habitat.

The island is very well laid out with good trails.
Notice the toilet is 9 meters away, not 10!

New Zealand Pigeon
Weka investigating my rucksack!
This species is completely fearless on remote islands.

South Island Robin

We took a walk to Boulder Beach.
Variable Oystercatcher.

After checking in to our hotel we caught the ferry to Ulva Island, which is an island within the protected Stewart Island Sound. This proved to be a brilliant afternoons birding!

We found this Kiwi burrow
 by the side of the trail.
Southern Brown Kiwi.
This was a fantastic & unexpected siting 
in mid afternoon!
I watched this bird for around 15 minutes.

This was one of the highlights of the trip.

Red crowned Parakeet
A high number (around 50)
 were found in the forest.

Poor photos, but this species is declining rapidly 
from mainland sites & is only in good numbers
 on offshore islands.

On the way out to sea.

Spotted Shag
A colony of Stewart Island Shags,
 which looks set to be split into two species:
this is Foveaux Shag.

Fiordland crested Penguin
My best views yet of this very charismatic species.
They nest in small scattered colonies.

A distant Yellow eyed Penguin
Brown Skua
Small numbers breed on Stewart Island.
Easily brought close to the boat!

Southern Royal Albatross

It has got character!

White capped Albatross

Salvin's Albatross

A well defined race of Shy Albatross
or a good species?

Sooty Shearwater

On 9th November we enjoyed an all day pelagic off Stewart Island. The weather was excellent, in fact a little too excellent as there was little wind. It was a great day out.

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