Saturday, 12 November 2016

The Southern Alps

Scenery was pretty impressive!

Pied Stilt
New Zealand Fantail

It is the 5th November & we left the coast & headed inland towards increasingly scenic uplands. We first called in at a local nature reserve looking for cape barren goose but without success. It was a very little stop over though.

It took us around four hours driving to get to Arthur's Pass & birds were scarce but of high quality. We had a New Zealand Falcon mobbing a Swamp Harrier over the road, then explored an area of southern beech forest which produced my first ever Rifleman.We enjoyed views of a pair feeding a recently fledged young bird. Due to steady rain, I took no photos.

Arthur's Pass
Kea watching!

Very confiding.

A super bird!
This is the view from the car park.
And where you have a car park, you have Keas!

This pair were courting.

On top of a car!
begging in the car park.

Once we drove even higher to the pass itself we quickly found Kea & had some fantastic views of this charismatic species.

Very atmospheric.
Brown Creeper

The forest was amazing! Southern Beech Forest with tons of lichens & moss.

This was the view from my hotel room!

Here is me, spoiling the view!
This was of course, the land of the Moas!
This one was in our hotel garden!

After dark we went Kiwi hunting, this time for the Great Spotted Kiwi. We didn't hold out much chance of success but I spotted the back end of one walking upwards along a small stream. unfortunately I didn't see its head! We heard both a male & female soon after but then the rain started & after waiting around for a further hour we called it a night. So close but so far!

Coughing up a pellet.
This individual was feeding in a grass field, 
right out in the open!

6th November was a travel day: it dawned with grey skies & as we drove over the pass the weather closed in & were had torrential rain for the rest of the day. We did see several Wekas in a pastoral field & I got some nice photos. We called in at Ian's place & had a briefing on the nights events where we would be looking for the rarest Kiwi of them all!
We all assembled in the pouring rain, none of us we very hopeful, but I spotted one just beside its burrow from the road! Unheard of! This is the rarest Kiwi of them all - the Okarito Kiwi! After a while we saw both male & female in the half light. I got really good views, but no cameras are allowed on the reserve! Drat!

Our rain was snow on the mountains!
The view from my room!

What a difference a day makes! The 7th November dawned like this.....

This Little Pied Cormorant was close by.
The walk to the beach through 
the forest was beautiful.
South Island Tomtit.

We then drove to Monro Beach where Fjord Crested Penguins nest. We did glimpse one, but it was a poor view.

My best views of New Zealand Falcon.
It works!
On duty in a nearby tree, but this species 
often nests on the ground.

This was a memorable encounter
 with a very rare bird.

Continuing south to Wanaka where Sav had a nesting site for New Zealand Falcon! It was in a camp ground close to the town. It was a fitting ending to our time in this stunning location.

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