New Zealand holiday February 2019 - Part 2

Post any news of rare sightings from outside the area or any holiday information you may wish to pass on.
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Leonard Poxon
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New Zealand holiday February 2019 - Part 2

Post by Leonard Poxon » Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:43 pm

Friday 15th. Feb - from the Bay of Islands the ship sailed south, passing Auckland before docking at the wharf in Tauranga port before 5:45am.
We took a coach trip from the wharf, through the town of Tauranga to Rotorua. On the coach trip I spotted a probable New Zealand Falcon* on some overhead wires and saw two Swamp Harriers and several Welcome Swallow, House Sparrows, Blackbirds and Starling from the coach. At Rotorua we looked at some hot springs, here we noted European Goldfinch, Blackbird, House Sparrow and Myna. Also around the lakes near the hot springs were several species of Odonata, including Yellow Spotted Dragonfly and Common Redcoat Damselfly. Here also I spotted two Pukeko (aka Purple Gallinule). We also drove past Lake Rotorua but did not stop, here I spotted over 150+ New Zealand Scaup*, numerous Red-billed Gulls and 1 Black Swan. We drove around along another route on the way back to the port and stopped at a Kiwi fruit farm, here I spotted another Swamp Harrier. Also on the trip we passed a small pond that appeared to contain a Little Grebe. When the ship left Tauranga I noted several Bullers Shearwater and 2 Australasian Gannets.
Day 4 (in NZ) - Species total increased to 42 birds (including 11 endemics marked*); 3 Odonata and 7 Lepidoptera species

Saturday 16th. Feb - Continuing southwards overnight, we arrived in Napier and docked at the port at 9:15. On the journey in I noted Australasian Gannet, Shearwater/Petrel species and an Albatross (all too distant to identify). In the harbour I noted White Fronted Terns, Red-billed Gull and Black-backed Gull.
We then went on a coach trip to Napier to view the Art-Deco buildings and the Cathederal. There was an Art-Deco festival on, with many people wearing 1920's/30's costumes and lots of period cars being driven around the town, it all added up to a great atmosphere. I noted several Welcome Swallows, Starlings, Myna and House Sparrows, 2 Monarch Butterflies and several White Butterflies in the town. We then drove around the town and up to the top of a large hill overlooking the town (Te Mata Peak). Here I saw a pair of Australian Magpie. On the way back to the ship through Havelock North and Hastings I saw 2 Swamp Harrier, a Pukeko, some Little Shag on a riverbank and several White-necked Heron in a lagoon. As the ship left the wharf I noted a colony of 150+ White-fronted Terns, several Red-billed Gulls & Black-backed Gulls and 3 Black Shag (Great Cormorant) at the edge of the wharf/breakwater and an Australasian Gannet.
Day 5 (in NZ) - Species total increased to 43 bird species (including 11 endemics marked*); 3 Odonata and 7 Lepidoptera species


Sunday 17th. Feb - continuing southwards overnight, the ship docked in Port at Wellington at 9:15. On its way in I noted two Albatrosses, (a Northern Royal Albatross and a Chatham Islands Mollymawk), I also noticed a disturbance in the water, which turned out to be a school of fish being attacked from above by Shearwater, Terns and Petrels and from below by a pod (4 or 5) of Hectors Dolphins.
Today I was on a separate trip to my wife and friends to a nature reserve close to Wellington called Zealandia. Zealandia is a very large valley with two lakes and is surrounded by a tall fence to keep predators out. I first left the ship and took the first shuttle bus from the port to the centre of town, here at 9:30 I caught a free minibus run by Zealandia which took me straight to the reserve by 9:45. The first things I saw were a Long Tailed Blue Butterfly and a medium sized dark coloured butterfly possibly a Ringlet species. The first bird I saw was a Kaka* as it flew across the lake towards me, I then spotted a Tui in the trees and a Mallard on the lake. As I moved up the hill on one of the paths a group of Silvereye caught my attention. On trees by the lake there were breeding Pied Cormorant, Black Shag (Great Cormorant), Little Shag and Little Black Shag. In some large vivariums were a breeding colony of the Wellington Gecko and also on the site are breeding Tuatara. Tuatara are reptiles endemic to New Zealand. Although resembling most lizards, they are part of a distinct lineage, the order Rhynchocephalia. I was lucky to see two, a juvenile and an adult which was peeping out of its burrow. There was a restricted area were Takahe were breeding, I was observing the area from a pontoon bridge when I noted a small group of California Quail within the area, they then moved on and an adult & juvenile Takahe* came into view. As I was observing them a Fantail flew to within 2m of me, followed shortly after by a Grey Warbler* on the lake near this point were a pair of Paradise Shelduck*. I then continued up the valley on one of the tracks where I came across a juvenile NZ Pigeon sitting on its nest, not long after I came across a feeding station where there were sugared water feeders for Kaka, with 4 or more birds present in the area. House Sparrows and Tui were present in this area too. I continued on the walkway up to the upper dam, where I saw Mallard and Brown Teal*.After crossing the dam wall I came across a very confiding North Island Robin* which looked curious as this individual specimen had no tail. I then continued up one of the steeper wilder trails through the heavily forested slopes, where I came across several Tui and two North Island Saddleback*, another North Island Robin was also seen in this area, together with a group of Whitehead*. I then followed a trail downhill where I came across a feeding station for smaller birds, where I sat down for the best part of an hour. Here again I saw another North Island Robin, several Stichbirds, several Bellbirds* were using the feeding stations intermittently, I also noted Silvereye, Tui, Blackbirds and Saddleback passing through the area. I then carried on downhill along different trails seeing many of the species I had previously encountered including some tiny Californian Quail chicks. Other wildlife seen included two Dragonfly species, some mating Common Redcoat Damselflies and a (yet to be identified ) large flying Bug. I left the site on the free bus at 14:35 returning to Wellington. In Wellington I had a stroll around the harbour, noting Welcome Swallow, Red-billed Gulls, Black-backed Gulls, Mallard and a small colony of White-fronted Terns. I then returned to the ship on a shuttle bus. After the ship was left the port I noticed a flock of 40 + Hutton's Shearwater* that were initially on the sea and then flew parallel with the ship for a time, as did a White-fronted Tern and a juvenile Black-backed Gull.
Day 6 (in NZ) - Species total increased to 56 bird species (including 20 endemics marked*); 5 Odonata and 8 Lepidoptera species

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