This Welcome Swallow welcomed me to New Zealand, Aotearoa, the Anti-podes. I well cummed.
From one island, onto a slightly larger one, then over some continental sized ones arriving on a duo of islands known as New Zealand, It is here that I have been and will be for about a year trying my best to squeeze in as many endemic reach-arounds as possible. The dub birder is here and it's about to get insular. In Su Lar. Poor Su.
After an initial Auckland stint getting beWilldered by all the funny European and Asian birds we heading north getting a sweet taste of semi-tropical NZ before heading south rather hurriedly for a festival near Wanaka.
Fuck you Maggie, they still have Myna's in New Zealand.
Tui deep-throating some serious white balls. Bird meets sex machine, sounds like one too.
It's teal sized and brown - probably out a cage but I ticked it in typical UK slut-birder manor. So Ireland and NZ counts right?
In the Northland we acclimatised to our new temporary working holiday visa home, discovered that despite having no fatally venomous organisms, the mozzies and sandflies were borderline facist making the first few nights in the van a fun game.
New Zealand Dotterel - a common sight on various beaches, understated and rather eyelid popping, and my first endemic!
Adult in full slut mode ready for a dub-around, pity its chick was watching...
Chick! Being such a thin long pair of islands the climatic gradient and its effect on breeding phenology was really interesting with some species being way behind up north compared to the south weirdly.
Everyone likes a foreign Shag, in a tree.
Sacred Kingfisher - nothing scared about its effect when observed!
Pukeko straight outta Pokemon - I lie, this was my first endemic, ticked from a moving car between Blackbirds and House Sparrow on route to Auckland.
Great to see the aptly named Caspian Tern breeding all over the shop. Never experienced one of these bohemouth's before but luckily walked away with my head intact!
North Island Weka - porno views of a glammed up Water Rail
New Zealand Pipit trying to look like it didnt convergently evolve
Pied Stilts looking stilted
Gull species number 3 - Black-billed, probably my favourate but seemingly far scarcer and elusive than the Red-billed's, NZ's version of Black-headed Gull.
Loads of Palearctic waders roosting at Miranda, didn't have a scope so only semi-erect views of these inter-tidal probers. Jammed a Wrybill in a Germans scope tho. Oh and there's our van in the background.
NZ Dabchick, like a retarded-hydro Reddish Egret. Stonker!
NZ Scaup, basically find a bird, think of the European name, put NZ in front, you're there
North Island Robin, being mega in dense old-growth forest at Pureora
Kaka in aforementioned forest, the contrast in diversity and abundance between totally natural (rather than plantation, of whivch there is ALOT) predator free areas and humanised habitat was depressingly stark. This area was alive with birds and hinted at how utterly prehistgasmic NZ must have been before humans did their usual thing...
Everybody love chicks. Chickschicks chicks. NZ Scaup and brood
My best attempt at a NZ Tomtit - a Pied Fly on acid! Massive crip in, on and around.
After a few weeks of travelling we had reached the Taupo area and after chatting to birders at Miranda, thought I'd stake out a Blue Duck spot along the Tongariro River. it was hot and a severely burned myself again again running up and down the breaded/fast-flowing mountain rivers' banks before finally jamming a family party on the third spot. I crouched on the wank-bank as they fed and cruised in the currents, one of my 'must-see's' and boy were they worth it!
Bit of habitat perspective, the UK has Dippers, NZ had these mental bill-flapped ducks!
Blue my mind!!
About 5 weeks in we headed to the south island on the Interislander, where I birded pretty solidly on deck in epic winds scoring my first Alberts of the trip along with some lovely Prions presumably Fairy..
Once on the south island a mad dash to Kaikoura was briefly interrupted by another must see - Banded Dotterel! Like mental Killdeer meets Kentish Plover. Cracking warm up for the seabird pornfest that awaits..
Banded's should be band for containing high volumes of cripple
Giant Petrel staking its claim
Royal and Salvin's Alabtross, we saw 5 species in a couple of hours!
Gibson's getting involved
White-capped amongst the Salvin's..
White-chinned Petrel, one of sev species seen blindingly well!
White-faced Heron being arty and commin as muck
So after a crazy holiday period where alot of beer and sun was had while birding took a back seat, we picked up our brains and dragged them south to Curio Bay for some much-needed cold horrific shitty Antarctic weather, and birds!
Upon arrival I spotted this pair and chick sunny themselves between manic hail showers that were stripping paint off cars...
Our early group moved slightly closer, with a DOC lad turning up and seeming happy with the situation, leaving us to it. After a long, cold wait I finally experienced a Penguin waddling up the beach...directly towards us! The cluster of people all sat holding their breath as the bird, which was totally unconcerned about the funny apes, sat about 10ft away preening! After a shortwhile the bird paused so we all tried to retreat without disturbing it only to have some dickhead Aussies shout at us! The ugly side of birding - jumped up clueless Nonbirders preaching bird ethics! This group had arrived later, not knowing where to stand they aired on the side of caution and stayed back, and had a go at us. Oh well. I resolved to find some unknown colonies where I could enjoy the birds without humans ruining it! Anyway all in all a rectally inverting experience..
From Curio, where I also jammed Hector's Dolphin, the worlds smallest and poss rarest cetacean we heading north for Dunedin. After a day or so it was on to Karitane to do some WWOOFING, which aint as dirty as it sounds. Here I learnt there was some Little Blue Pengs just down the road. A brief search founnd me eye to eye with birds in the colony - well from a good distance, but I was the only one there! Such a better experience.
Some great tidal lagoons near Karitane that scored me my second Oyc species - South Island Pied Oyc.
On the subject of Oycs, I should see my third species nect week when I head to the Chatham's!! Five weeks of hard work and birding should secure some of the best seabird experiences New Zealand has to offer!