Trip Report: New Zealand and Chatham Islands Nov 18-Dec 11, 2007

Ross Silcock, NZ Land & Pelagic Bird Tours

This is a report on the 2007 version of my biennial NZ tour. This year there were 8 participants, myself, and a driver (none other than that birder par excellence, Sav Saville of Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ), for a total of 10 in the group. For the Chatham Islands, myself and 7 others, including 3 of the main trip participants, made up the group.

We saw a total of 170 species (for taxonomy, see Trip List, below), 12 of which were seen only on the Chatham Islands. On the main NZ islands, North, South, and Stewart, we found 158 species, missing only a few difficult endemics, none of which we tried for: Great Spotted Kiwi (scheduling problem), Orange-fronted (Malherbe’s) Parakeet, and Kakapo. The only species which we failed to see and could be considered a miss was Reef Heron, and perhaps a shorebird or two. We saw the four kiwi species we tried for, and on the Chatham Islands both Chatham Petrel and Magenta Petrel!


Nov 18: Auckland Airport, Puketutu Island, Cascades Kauri Park, Muriwai Beach, Trounson Kauri Park. Overnight Kauri Coast Holiday Park.
Nov 19: Waipoua Forest, Waipu Estuary, Ormiston Road Pond near Waipu, Wenderholm Park, Matakana Road near Warkworth. Overnight Warkworth.
Nov 20: Pelagic trip to Hauraki Gulf, including Mokohinau Islands. Overnight Warkworth.
Nov 21: Wenderholm Park, Tiritiri Matangi Island. Overnight on island.
Nov 22: Tiritiri Matangi Island, Miranda. Overnight Miranda Hot Springs Holiday Park.
Nov 23: Whangamarino Swamp, Whitianga, pelagic trip beyond Red Mercury. Overnight Whitianga.
Nov 24: Whitianga, Tairua, Opoutere, Maketu, Rotorua. Overnight Rotorua.
Nov 25: Whakamaru Dam, Pureora Forest Park, Waihi area Lake Taupo, Manganuioteao River, Kemp’s Pole near Wanganui. Overnight Wanganui.
Nov 26: Virginia Lake at Wanganui, Rangitikei River at Bulls, Manawatu Estuary, Cook Strait ferry. Overnight Picton.
Nov 27: Queen Charlotte Sound including Motuara Island, Waihopai Valley Road near Blenheim, Lake Grassmere, Kaikoura. Overnight Kaikoura.
Nov 28: Oceanwings pelagic, Kaikoura Peninsula. Overnight Kaikoura.
Nov 29: St Anne's Lagoon, Ashley River mouth, Cave Stream, Lake Pearson, Arthur’s Pass Village, Hokitika Ponds, Okarito Lagoon, Okarito Forest. Overnight Franz Josef.
Nov 30: Bruce Bay, Monro Beach, Haast Pass. Overnight Wanaka.
Dec 1: Athol, Invercargill, Foveaux Strait ferry to Oban on Stewart Island, Ocean Beach. Overnight Oban.
Dec 2: Pelagic trip to Wreck (Big) Reef area, Ulva Island. Overnight Stewart Island.
Dec 3: Foveaux Strait ferry to Bluff, Te Waewae Bay, Te Anau, Homer Tunnel. Overnight Te Anau.
Dec 4: Homer Tunnel, Milford Sound. Overnight Te Anau.
Dec 5: Ahuriri River, Ohau Delta, Ruataniwha Wetland. Overnight Omarama.
Dec 6: Lake Poaka, Mt. John, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Halswell Quarry Park. Overnight Christchurch. Chatham Islands group flew to Wellington for overnight.
Dec 7: Flights to Auckland and on to Los Angeles. Chatham Islands group flew to the islands. Cliffs south of Waitangi. Overnight Waitangi.
Dec 8: Awatotara River, Waitangi West, Te Whaanga Lagoon, Hapupu, Kaingaroa. Overnight Waitangi.
Dec 9: Pelagic, including Star Keys, South East I., Pyramid area, Mangere, Caravan Bush on Pitt Island. Overnight Waitangi.
Dec 10: Henga, afternoon-evening pelagic southwest of Chatham Island. Overnight Waitangi.
Dec 11: Kopinga Marae, cliffs south of Waitangi. Overnight Waitangi.
Dec 12: Travel to Wellington, Auckland, Los Angeles, and Omaha.

Daily Journal

Nov 18 Sun

Great first day! Best birds were “Giant Shag” (Nelli) and “Scared Kingfisher” (Bill). Reyers and Falzgrafs made it to the airport from downtown Auckland as did Lyn and I; dropped off our rental car no worries. Flight in with Bill, Ken, and Charlotte was delayed 20 min, but they soon appeared. Ran into Sav, transferred the entire group’s surprisingly light luggage to a nice van (12-seater). First birding at Puketutu, where we saw some common things and picked up Spotted Doves after a bit. Then to Cascades; no problem with the cockatoos. Didn’t go into the bush so left pretty soon. On to Muriwai; usual suspects, including Yellowhammer and Dunnock, the latter a pleasant surprise. Didn’t go to L. Kereta as Aust Little Grebe continues at pond near Waipu (tomorrow). Also- Brown Teal at Tiri and possibly Miranda (found by Sav Sat), eliminating long trip to Helena Bay for wild population. Went to Waiwera and Straka’s Refuge and nearby sewage ponds. Nice group of expecteds, including dabchick, Little Black Corm, Grey Teal. Then hurried to Kauri Coast Holiday Park. Beautiful place. Had a scrumptious traditional NZ roast dinner cooked for us and eaten outside in garden. Even had pavlova for dessert! Dinner was at 6.30. We arrived around 5 pm, so time for a wander around. Sav taped in Shining Cuckoo for great looks. At 8.30 went to Trounson Kauri Park. Herb led the night walk. Heard about 3 kiwi but didn’t see anything until back at toilet area- Herb thought 2 different birds seen- smaller male and larger female. Group all had at least recognizable glimpse- all seemed happy. All even stayed for another go-round, but no luck. Back to KCHP at 11.45 pm. Don’t have to get up until breakfast at 8.30am!! Long first day strategy might need a tweak for 2009.

Nov 19 Mon

Late start; we allowed for the late night by departing at 8.30, although the group seemed fine after the kiwi outing. Had great cooked breakfast outside at KCHP, adding to its reputation as a top-notch destination. Drove up to Waipoua Kauri Forest to see Tane Mahuta, definitely a magnificent sight. Enhanced in the beautiful forest by a Maori guide singing a song of praise (except when he got off key a few times). Picked up NI Tomtit and heard and glimpsed not-very-cooperative Fernbirds at the start of the trail to the other big tree, Te Matua Ngahere (south of Tane Mahuta). Then back through Dargaville and over to Waipu, where we picked up lunch (filled rolls) and went on to the estuary. Had pretty good looks at 3 Fairy Terns, along with NZ Plovers and the usual oystercatchers, barwits, knots, and turnstones. Nice place as usual. Ran up to Ormiston Rd Pond for Aus Little Grebe (a pair, along with a pair of dabchicks). Had just enough time to hit Wenderholm Park for Banded Rail, but no luck. Did pick up 2 Cal Quail though. Ran out to Matakana Rd and saw Kookaburra immediately in same place as 2005, but only one bird. Great! We were only gone for 20 minutes! Had enjoyable dinner (fresh fish and Speights dark) and Sticky Date Pudding at Bridge View Restaurant. Did WIFI at bar at motel (negotiated $10 for 1 hour). Caught up on my webmail (wish it had folders to allow emptying the Inbox!).

Nov 20 Tue

Nice breakfast at motel and off to Sandspit. Very calm day, sunny. Motored out with Brett Rathe on Assassin past Little Barrier Island for first of what would be 5 chum sessions. Great looks at all expected species but no NZ Storm Petrel until the final session (like last year), but this time great views for over an hour of at least 5 birds. Unbelievable. Also bonus fly-bys of Brown Skua (late this far north) and Black-browed Alby (juv- not sure if Campbell or nominate). Killer close looks at Cook’s Petrels all day. Got back to Sandspit about 7.45 pm after great day on the water. Had dinner again at Bridge View and slept well.

Nov 21 Wed

Breakfast at the hotel then drove to Gulf Harbor with brief stop at Wenderholm, where Banded Rail seen walking across small tidal creek at northwest corner of area. Seen my most, but not all. Went to Tiri on scheduled Fuller’s ferry with large crowd. Walked up Wattle Track, but missed Kokako. Picked up the other usual suspects. Leisurely afternoon in wonderful warm sunshine. Later afternoon walked Kawerau and Wattle Tracks, but no luck on Kokako (some had had great looks earlier at water bath on Wattle Track). After grilling steak (with bag salad, great bread rolls, and wine), went after kiwi. At Kawerau we hoped for Morepork feeding young, but not found. Heard 4 LS Kiwi and about 6 Morepork. Walking back to Wattle, had a kiwi alongside road just inside bush, but only seen by Sav and I. On Wattle, had one under the platform near the Wharf Rd!! Seen well by all except Lyndabeth before it scuttled off. Long walk- we estimated 10+ km for the evening. Slept outside- very comfortable, but very dewy! Woke up with a wet mattress and pillow, but I was fine. Sav and Randy also slept outside.

Nov 22 Thu

Everyone up at 5.30 eating breakfast after typical Tiri bunkhouse night. A few still needed Kokako- I took group down to water bath on Wattle and after a while 2 very cooperative Kokako appeared and performed well for us at close range. Amazing birds to see so well. Cleaned up then and got bags sorted and loaded on truck for wharf. Water taxi arrived at 11 am and took us back to Gulf Harbor. The group drove to Miranda and we arrived about 3 pm. Had time before high tide at 5 pm and visited with Keith Woodley at Naturalists’ Centre. Went to Taramaire (nothing much) and the Stilt Pool area. Had huge flock of barwits/knots which gradually came closer for killer looks, but couldn’t find the reported hudwit. After Sav and I had decided it was somewhere else, Lyn pointed out a darker bird that “might have just been a wet godwit”. Turned out to be the hud!! (NZ Tick #1 for Ross.) Also had Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed Sand, Little Tern, Wrybill, Black-billed Gull. Cracked 100 for trip- 102, on pace to beat Sav’s record of 156. Had a dip in the hot pool with Al (very soothing warm water) then great fish and chips at Kaiaua (“lemon fish” aka dogfish). Back to chalet at 7.30 hoping for a good night’s sleep. Group is a bit tired as expected, but Charlotte’s fighting a cold; I think she’s pretty tough, though.

Nov 23 Fri

Started without breakfast at 7.30 am for Whangamarino Swamp overlook at Falls Rd . Scoped 4 bittern, incl 3 putting on awesome display. Had great breakfast at Thames; arrived there 9.30 am. Over to Whitianga with quick stops at Tairua, but no reef heron, although did have a NZ Plover. Arrived at Whitianga around noon. Picked up sandwiches and drinks for boat. Departed 1.30 pm in 2 boats (Andy Kerr and Roger). Pretty good day, but Pycroft’s frustrating- large number of Cook’s, but few “good” Pycrofts compared with 2005. Generally Cook’s heading north and Pycroft’s west to Red Mercury. Lots of very pale clearly Cook’s, but many indeterminate also. Finally had a few acceptable Pycroft’s at the dark end. Another Black-browed Alby, and a great Mottled Petrel! Sav yelled something and I got onto the bird (dark belly, bigger than Cook’s/Pycrofts’s, extra black in underwing), but bird zipped through before group got it. Unfortunately Al was in the loo!! Two very pale Cape Petrels- southern, and huge flock of 5-10,000 fairy prions and 3000 Fluttering Shears. Back in by 7 pm. Had dinner at Mercury Bay Club- noisy and crowded, not too pleasant, but the food was pretty good (fish and chips). Tallied list at 108- getting exciting!!

Nov 24 Sat

Started at 8.30 am from Whitianga, stopped at Tairua hoping for Reef Heron, and then Opoutere. No luck, but had 3 Banded Rails at far end of bridge at Opoutere nature trail access. Good spot. Had morning tea at Waihi and incredibly Lyn noticed my cousin Rachel and husband Gary going to a funeral!! Stopped and talked to them- great to see them. Really a major coincidence! Stopped at Maketu- nice estuary, NZ Plover, Banded Plover, RN Stints. Looked for Pac Golden-plover at Kaituna but no luck. Several Canada Geese, though. Arrived in Rotorua after quick stop at Okere Falls for coot and scaup. Had lunch in Rotorua, went to motel (nice) and spent a couple of hours catching up on email. Had a great dinner at Indian restaurant- everyone in good spirits! Trip list now 112!!! But worried about Reef Heron, although Sav thinks we should get it at Marlborough Sounds or Kaikoura.

Nov 25 Sun

Left Rotorua for Pureora at 7.30 am. Plan was for breakfast at café at Whakamaru, but it didn’t open until 9 am. Went up to Ranginui Rd and then back to the café. Found 18 Rooks on the way! Then back to the cafe and then returned to Pureora proper. Tough birding, but did get glimpses of kakariki and rifleman, but group needs better views. Had good looks at Long-tailed Cuckoo as it flew back and forth over us responding to Sav’s tape. No falcon. Went to Waihi at the bottom of Lake Taupo but windy and fernbirds not responsive. Sav thinks Okarito for sure (another “better view desired”). Also need BVD on redpoll. Stopped at Meyer Bridge for Blue Ducks but gate sign says permission needed- phone is 06-385-4645. Not sure about access, so climbed fence at the next paddock and had 2 Blue Ducks loafing on a rock. All saw the birds, but Lyn hurt her foot climbing the fence. We’re hoping it repairs itself quickly! Arrived in Wanganui after picking up peafowl along the way. Stayed at Coachmen motel with great traditional NZ food smorgasbord restaurant next door. After dinner we drove up to Kemp’s Pole and tried for night-herons, but again no luck. I think they’re defunct. Trip list up to 119.

Nov 26 Mon

First call was Virginia Lake- found a Mute Swan and quickly left for Bulls so as not to be discovered looking at Mute Swans by a real birder. Found a Black-fronted Dotterel at the gravel plant site. Good looks for all. On to Manawatu Estuary, which had usual suspects but no hoped-for Pac Golden-plover. Zipped down to Wellington. Ferry crossing was with Blueridge as no 1 pm or so sail time was available on Interislander. Good numbers of White-capped Shys and 2 Salvin’s along with 3 Northern Royals (one a bit odd with some white flecking in upperwings). Thousands of prions seen during the second half of the crossing. A few Sooties and Flesh-footeds, and only about 3 Westland’s- the latter ID by molt. Several jaegers in Queen Charlotte Sound. We stayed at a nice motel on Picton main street, a close walk to cafes and marina. Nice dinner at Shaitanas. Jumped trip list to 127.

Nov 27 Tue

Leisurely start at 7.45 am in Picton- breakfast at café overlooking marina. Boat trip with Dolphin Encounters was very good- saw 8 King Shags at southern tip of Blumine Island, a new roost spot. Saved us from the long trip out to White Rocks. Then to Motuara Island for SI Saddleback and SI Robin; a very tame robin was enjoyed at the water pool, but moderate views only of the saddleback. Also several jaegers and dusky dolphins. No Reef Heron- probably because a boat was parked up in the best spot. Back to Picton and on to Waihopai Valley Rd for the Black Kite- Sav spotted it in flight but I missed it- I didn’t hear Sav in the wind. Waited a while and it re-appeared but as I got onto it it dove out of sight. Not quite good enough to count for NZ! Oh well. On to Grassmere for the staked-out Red-necked Phal. Very windy and cold- finally I saw a bird’s rear (dorsal) hunkered against some salicornia- looked good to me based on the many I’ve seen in Nebraska and Sav concurred. NZ tick #2!! Looked for other trip ticks but no luck in the ferocious wind. No-one else got onto the phalarope. On to Kaikoura with the obligatory brief stop at Ohau Point for the group’s first good look at NZ Fur Seals. Good to be in Kaikoura- Sav generously allowed us dinner at the White Morph, a very nice way to end a good day for the group, but mixed day for me due to dipping on the kite. Trip list 130- getting into serious range, but need hard look for reef heron around Kaikoura.

Nov 28 Wed

Oceanwings with skipper Alistair produced the usual suspects and great looks. Added White-chinned Petrel, Southern Royal, and Wandering Albies. A large, white, apparent Snowy which Sav agreed with, plus Gibson’s. No good Antipodean. Spent the afternoon walking around the peninsula to South Bay looking for Reef Heron (1 hour and 5 min walk became 3.5 hrs with birding), but no luck. Nelli noticed a small grey bird that I walked out to flush but missed it in flight but that the guys saw well and identified as a Wandering Tattler- descriptions sounded good to me and Sav and a look in the book confirmed the ID for the guys. After the boat trip I saw a finch near South Bay Reserve that was a female Cirl- yellow-green rump; Sav concurred. Flushed it out of the grass and up came 2 more birds, apparent juvs. They flew up the steep grassy slope and I went up to flush them for the group to see, and at least 2 were juv/fem Cirls, but I couldn’t find a male. The group had trouble getting decent looks, though (another BVD). Turned in early for the next day’s big drive (550 km!) to Franz Josef.

Nov 29 Thu

Started at 7 am with breakfast at Oceanwings then big drive to Franz. Stops at St Anne’s for Cape Barren Goose (rather easy NZ Tick #3), Ashley River mouth but missed Eastern Curlew, and a few Black-fronted Terns. Lucky spot for me was a falcon perched on crag to northeast of parking area at Cave Stream. The falcon flew around and soared for the group! Headed over the hill to the windy-as-usual Lake Pearson where we finally found 2 Great Crested Grebes. Arthur’s Pass had Rifleman and 2 Kea, one of the Keas almost inside a café. Nothing much at the Hokitika sewage ponds, but the 2 escapee Cape Barren Geese were present. Drove on to Franz Josef and arrived about 5.30 pm. Had dinner and went to Okarito to meet Ian Cooper for Rowi trip. Saw 2 Great Egrets on Okarito Lagoon. Ian is an unusual guy with a very interesting kiwi-spotting strategy- he spaced the group out and each person had a whistle to blow if a bird was heard. After a long wait, Al heard a bird then had two run across in from of him! We heard his whistle and Ian gathered us at the spot, eventually giving us an incredible view of a female crossing the track and then coming back! Unbelievable. Lyn and I were so excited when we got back at midnight we had to have a cuppa tea in true NZ style! NZ Tick #4 for Ross.

Nov 30 Fri

Much more leisurely day- we stopped to see Fox Glacier then made scenic stops at Bruce Bay where we had great looks at several Hector’s Dolphins then at the overlook high over a distant seal haul-out. Then we drove to Monro Beach where after the nice walk out we finally had great looks in the scopes at 3 Fiordland Crested Penguins after chasing some yahoos out of the rocks well past the sign warning people to stay clear. Beautiful sunny day. Stopped at Haast Pass, where we made a valiant try but dipped on Yellowheads, tempered with good looks at Pipipi and Yellow-crowned Parakeet. Then on to Wanaka and a nice dinner at Speights Brew House Restaurant. Trip list now at 146 and still about 15 more species possible!! So pretty exciting, but definitely going to be a close call beating the record of 156!

Dec 1 Sat

Rather easy day from Wanaka to Stewart Island, with the ferry across to the latter leaving Bluff 5 pm. Looked hard for Little Owl en route but no luck. Great stop at known cliff site just north of Athol for falcon- saw 3 birds, a pair and probable year-old young bird. Got to Invercargill and located the store with the World’s Fastest Indian bike for Ken- interesting. Checked out a Fernbird spot at Bushy Point for better looks and had good luck. Also looked at Pac Golden-plover site on poor tide so will re-check on better tide on return in a couple of days. Crossing to Stewart was uneventful and quiet- only 4 White-capped Albies and nothing unusual. Set up at the South Sea Motel, had supper, and took off on Phillip Smith’s kiwi trip. Had great success, actually walking away from 2 kiwi feeding along the beach. We heard another on the way in. Had to zodiac the group to and from the boat in 3 shifts as the old jetty had been demolished by unknown persons, either on purpose or accidental. Phillip is indeed a kiwi-spotting genius, although Ian Cooper is getting into his orbit.

Dec 2 Sun

We had an early departure for the pelagic with skipper Graham on Aurora. Checked for Fiordland Crested Penguin and Yellow-eyed Penguin with success, Brown Skua (many), then out to Big Reef. Lots of albies, mostly WC Shys, but also a few S. Royals and Wanderings. Best birds were a Buller’s spotted by Sav and seen by me and poorly by others, and my favorite, a great, close Gray-backed Stormie!!!! First one I’d seen away from the Chathams. Outstanding boat trip with some sharp eyes on board. Graham dropped the group off at Ulva Island with our boxed lunches and Sav soon found Mohua on Boulder Beach Trail. SI Saddlebacks took a bit longer but we found 5 on the return trip, a family group and a single very vocal adult. The ladies returned early on a water taxi to shop (!!) and 3 of us came later. We rested a bit before dinner. An outstanding day, with the 2 bonus seabirds bringing the trip list to an amazing 153. The record is going to fall!! We still have Pac GP, Black Stilt, Chukar, Marsh Crake, Rock Wren, as well as a couple of shorebird possibilities that Sav’s contacts have lined up, and a Cirl Bunting stakeout for BVD.

Dec 3 Mon

Plowed back across Foveaux St in 1-2m swells, trying to see birds along the way. Sav had a Broad-billed Prion, but I couldn’t see it. Nothing else of interest. Paid Sav at BNZ in Invercargill then we drove via Riverton to Te Anau. Again looked hard for Little Owl, but no luck. Arrived at Te Anau about 1.30, had lunch then some (the ladies plus Bill) elected to stay in town while the rest of us shot up to Homer for Rock Wren. Despite more than an hour looking, no luck. Drove back and had a nice lazy susan-style Chinese dinner. Nothing new for the Trip List!!

Dec 4 Tue

Nice breakfast in Te Anau and off up the road for another try at Rock Wren. Beautiful day. Stood around at Homer Tunnel trail for about 45 minutes looking for signs of movement then suddenly a whistle from Ken: he had a Rock Wren!! We all gravitated in his direction and were able to follow it through the rocks up the slope until everyone saw it really well, including a final performance on top of a rock in the sun. Fantastic looks at a really tough but very cool bird to see. With the pressure off, the rest of the day was fun in beautiful sun with minimal wind. Milford Cruise on Red Boat was thoroughly enjoyed by all, and a few stops at interesting spots were made on the way back to Te Anau. Did my final bit of shopping and then group had supper at 6.30 at the Ranch Grill and Bar. A wonderful day in world class surroundings with a world class bird- Rock Wren!

Dec 5 Wed

Again a nice breakfast in Te Anau and then we drove to Omarama. En route we made a few stops- the usual loo stops and of course a stop for “supplies” aka “elevenses”, actually snacks. This bunch never stops eating! Looked hard for Little Owl, but again no luck. First birding stop was 20 km west up a gravel road on the south side of the Ahuriri River, where a nice pond yielded 3 very cool Black Stilts. Also in the area were 3 Pied Stilts and an obvious hybrid (essentially black with a white face and cheeks). With the Trip List now at 155 and needing one to tie, we unloaded at the motel at Omarama and headed up to Ruataniwha for the Marsh Crake. Sav played the tape briefly, then we waited. Soon Sav and I each heard different crakes calling, then we all had fabulous looks at one walking around in the open. It was a nifty bird with the sunlight making its underparts a beautiful shade of bright blue. A worthy bird which tied the record! We got back to the motel early enough to allow some shopping (for the ladies, while the guys had a few beers). Nice dinner in “downtown” Omarama. We’re looking forward to finding a Chukar tomorrow morning to break the record and then adding Black-tailed Godwit in Christchurch to put in some space!

Dec 6 Thu

Last day as a group! We had breakfast at 7.30 and took off for Christchurch, thinking we needed to be at the Avon-Heathcote Estuary by the 3.30 pm high tide. We stopped briefly at Lake Poaka where we had one Black Stilt, then photo-ops of Mt Cook at Lake Pukaki. We drove up Mt John and I saw a Chukar sitting on one of the posts beside the road- seen by all as it walked away! We saw another walking around on the way down. As we zoomed along, suddenly, between Fairlie and Geraldine, Sav, I, and Bill all at the same moment saw a Little Owl sitting on a pile of rocks- very exciting. The group got out and scoped it. 158! With visions of a 160 Trip List (needed 2 shorebirds at Christchurch), we stopped to pick up lunch on the run (“smash and grab”) at Geraldine and arrived at the estuary at 3.30 or so as tide was peaking, but couldn’t find the black-tailed godwit, or anything else new. The tide wasn’t high enough to move the birds off to a closer shellbank. We went to Halswell Quarry to get better looks at Cirl Bunting, and finally Sav spotted a nice male dusting himself on a path! Great way to finish trip- a lifer for all (the ones at South Bay were not seen well at all other than by Ross and Sav). Sav took the group to their Christchurch motel, where we parted ways. Sav took the Chathams 4 (myself and Lyn, Ken, and Charlotte) to the airport and departed. It was a great trip! We flew to Wellington at 8.45 pm, arriving a bit late at 9.45 in a howling wind. The shuttle to the Airport Motel went smoothly and we hit bed with happy thoughts of the record 158 Trip List!

Dec 7 Fri

Caught up on email in the motel room and shuttled over to the airport at 11.15 am. Grabbed lunch and went to the gate for our 1 pm Air Chathams departure. Met the Smiths, Tania, and Warwick Pickwell there. Should be a nice group. The flight over left (typically) about 30 min late, but we had a very smooth flight over and were met at the airport on Chatham by Val Jr and Allison (ex DOC, now helping Val at Hotel Chathams). Lyn and I have the big room at Traveler’s Rest- awesome! The group took the walk up to the shag colony above cliffs near Waitangi where we found 8 Chatham Shags and 6 Pitt Island Shags. Nice start. Back for dinner, which was an incredible spread- a whole bluenose (very delicate white fish) and a huge plate of crayfish! Absolutely delicious. Then fruit and ice cream for dessert. And, of course, the obligatory Tui beer! I discussed plans with Allison and Val- looks good for land tour on Saturday (me to drive as in the past) and the big boat trip Sunday. Best of all- the weather looks fabulous! Chats list at 14, with 2 endemics. Ian Smith mentioned Sav had called and had Pac GP and Curlew Sdp at Grassmere today!

Dec 8 Sat

First full day on Chats; we did the land tour using a 12-seater from Val Jr. Went to Awatotara, Waitangi West, Te Whanga Lagoon, Hapupu, and Kaingaroa. Finished at Kaingaroa with unbelievable Kaingaroa Club seafood feast! All sorts of fish, crayfish, even brandy snaps and pavlova! Found the endemics, including a brief look at Chatham Warbler at Awatotara (BVD). Great looks at pipits at Waitangi West beach. Chats list 34, incl 6 endemics. Big boat day tomorrow!

Dec 9 Sun

Weather is good for the trip! Val took us to Owenga and we boarded Matt Parika’s boat with deckie Tingi. Headed for Star Keys. On to South East where we found 5 Shore Plovers and motored down to Pyramid. Once south of Pyramid, large numbers of Chat Albies and Cape Petrels were present. We chummed for a while, but only attracted a Sooty Shear, 2 Salvin’s Albies (rather pale-headed versions, but otherwise looked adult), and a nice No. Royal. On to Big Mangere, where it took nearly an hour to get reasonable looks at Forbes’s Parakeet. One finally came close enough in the flax for the group to discern the yellow fore-crown. Then to Pitt I, where we were taken in 2 vehicles by Bronwyn and Bernie to Caravan Bush. Bronwyn led us along the trail to the artificial petrel colony, picking a up a few things on the way (Tui, tomtit, warbler). Bronwyn clapped at several locations but no Black Robin appeared- it appears that only one female remains, and she hasn’t been seen for a few weeks and is probably deceased. At the petrel colony, Bronwyn explained the fascinating program, then showed us (briefly! no photos!) an adult Chatham Petrel in a burrow!! What an amazing thing to see- we were very appreciative as we understand how sensitive the project is. The bird we saw was relocated as a chick and this is the second year it has returned to a burrow (the same burrow!) Thus elated, we returned to Flower Pot and a delicious dinner by Dellie Lanauze. Back on boat to Owenga and arrived in Waitangi courtesy Val Jr by near dark.

Dec 10 Mon

Leisurely breakfast, then did Henga Walk. Very nice, with interesting plants and lots of Weka, but little other bird life. We vegged until the 4.30 pm departure for Taiko boat trip. Next time I’ll schedule this after evening dinner at about 6pm, ie depart about 7 pm. It takes about 45 min to get down to the Tuku area, which would allow about an hour to chum until Taiko time. We added So. GP (good looks at greenish bill and pale face), a WC Alby flew through, and good looks at a Gray-backed S-Petrel. A Taiko came towards the boat at about 9.40 pm. Unfortunately Tania and the Smiths didn’t get onto the bird, but Ken, Warwick, and I got looks that confirmed each other’s seen features and together provided a convincing sighting of Taiko. Apparently a week ago a government official visited the Taiko Camp and the crew was able to call in a Taiko. The Chat Petrel/Taiko double is probably unprecedented. Got back about 11.30 pm tired but happy! Chats list 53. Two great NZ ticks for Ross, a very cool total of 6: Okarito Kiwi, Cape B. Goose, Chat Petrel, Magenta Petrel, Hud Godwit, and RN Phalarope.

Dec 11 Tue

Winding down. After breakfast had a quiet morning- packed most of our stuff, and visited the nice craft shop just north of the river bridge. After bar lunch Allison showed us around the new Kopinga Marae- very impressive. Then a few of us walked over to the Chat Shag colony near Waitangi for Tania to get some good pictures, which she did. Then back to Waitangi and vegged until dinner. Last dinner was fun, with delicious blue cod and strawberries/ice cream for dessert. And, of course, a couple of big-bottle Tuis.

Dec 12 Wed

Writing this on the airplane about half way to Wellington. Plane left Chats about 10.30 am, only a little late. Rest of trip back to Tabor uneventful. Great to be home- will face mountains of mail at home and work and email at work tomorrow!

Annotated Trip List

001. Apteryx mantelli North Island Brown Kiwi: 2 seen, 3 heard Trounson Kauri Park.
002. A. australis Southern Brown Kiwi (Southern Tokoeka): 3 seen Ocean Beach, Stewart Island.
003. A. rowi Okarito Brown Kiwi (Rowi): 2 seen Okarito Forest.
004. A. owenii Little Spotted Kiwi: 2 seen, 6 heard at Tiritiri Matangi I.
005. Anser anser Feral (Graylag) Goose: widespread.
006. Branta canadensis Canada Goose: widespread, but mostly South I.
007. Cereopsis novaehollandiae Cape Barren Goose: 3 at St. Anne's Lagoon.
008. Cygnus olor Mute Swan: Virginia L, Wanganui.
009. C. atratus Black Swan: widespread, including Chatham I.
010. Tadorna variegata Paradise Shelduck: widespread.
011. Hymenolaimus malacorhynchus Blue Duck: 2 on Manganuioteao R.
012. Anas platyrhynchos Mallard: widespread, but most are hybrids and back-crosses with Pacific Black Duck.
013. A. superciliosa Pacific Black Duck: phenotypic Pacific Black Ducks scarce and localized.
014. A. rhynchotis Australasian Shoveler: widespread in small numbers.
015. A. chlorotis Brown Teal: 2 on Tiritiri Matangi I.
016. A. gracilis Grey Teal: widespread.
017. Aythya novaeseelandiae New Zealand Scaup: widespread.
018. Callipepla californica California Quail: widespread.
019. Meleagris gallopavo Wild Turkey: widespread open farmland, most North I.
020. Alectoris chukar Chukar: 2 on south slope Mt. John.
021. Coturnix ypsilophora Brown Quail: fairly common on Tiritiri Matangi I. Not seen elsewhere.
022. Gallus gallus Red Jungle-Fowl: NZ listers count population near Warkworth; also in Coromandel.
023. Phasianus colchicus Common (Ring-necked) Pheasant: widespread.
024. Pavo cristatus Indian Peafowl: north of Wanganui.
025. Eudyptes pachyrhynchus Fiordland Penguin: 3 at Monro Beach, 4 near Oban.
026. Megadyptes antipodes Yellow-eyed Penguin: 8 on islands north of Oban.
027. Eudyptula minor Little Penguin: widespread; 4 subspecies seen, including Chatham Is.
028: Diomedea chionoptera Wandering (Snowy) Albatross: one off Kaikoura.
029. D. gibsoni Wandering (Gibson's) Albatross: several off Kaikoura and 2 off Stewart I.
030. D. epomophora Southern Royal Albatross: one off Kaikoura, 3 off Stewart I.
031. D. sanfordi Northern Royal Albatross: 3 Cook Strait, 4 Chatham Is.
032. Thalassarche melanophris Black-browed Albatross: An adult of this taxon was off Kaikoura; single immatures not identifiable to taxon were in the Hauraki Gulf, off Whitianga, and off Kaikoura.
033. T. steadi White-capped Shy Albatross: several off Kaikoura and in Foveaux Strait; one off Chatham I.
034. T. salvini Salvin's Shy Albatross: A few off Kaikoura, common Foveaux Strait, 2 near Pyramid, Chatham Is.
035. T. eremita Chatham Shy Albatross: numerous at Pyramid, Chatham Is.
036. T. nov. sp Pacific (Northern Buller's) Albatross: several around Chatham Is.; one off Stewart I. Dec 2 not identified to (sub)species.
037. Garrodia nereis Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: one near Wreck Reef, Stewart I. Dec 2; several around Chatham Is.
038. Pelagodroma marina White-faced Storm-Petrel: common Hauraki Gulf and off Whitianga; 5 at Chatham Is.
039. Pealeornis maoriana New Zealand Storm-Petrel: 5 in Hauraki Gulf late afternoon.
040. Macronectes giganteus Antarctic (Southern) Giant-Petrel: only one seen was at Chatham Is.
041. M. halli Hall's (Northern) Giant-Petrel: 1 each Hauraki Gulf and off Whitianga, a few further south; numerous around Chatham Is.
042. Daption capense Cape Petrel: widespread Kaikoura southward, including Chatham Is., all australe, but 2 very pale, apparent capense with huge flock of Fluttering Shearwaters and Fairy Prions off Whitianga 23 Nov.
043. Puffinus bulleri Buller's Shearwater: numerous Hauraki Gulf, 4 off Whitianga, one Kaikoura.
044. P. carneipes Flesh-footed Shearwater: Common Hauraki Gulf, Whitianga, 10 Cook Strait, one Marlborough Sounds with Fluttering Shearwaters.
045. P. griseus Sooty Shearwater: only a few north, but abundant Foveaux Strait and common Chatham Is.
046. P. tenuirostris Short-tailed Shearwater: a few each Hauraki Gulf, Whitianga, and Kaikoura.
047. P. gavia Fluttering Shearwater: abundant Hauraki Gulf, Whitianga, Queen Charlotte Sound.
048. P. huttoni Hutton's Shearwater: fewer than expected Kaikoura.
049. P. assimilis Little Shearwater: a few outer Hauraki Gulf, 10 Whitianga, and 2 around Chatham Is.
050. Procellaria aequinoctialis White-chinned Petrel: 5 off Kaikoura.
051. P. parkinsoni Black (Parkinson's) Petrel: numerous Hauraki Gulf, 10 Whitianga.
052. P. westlandica Westland Petrel: 3 Cook Strait (molting flight feathers), numerous Kaikoura.
053. Pachyptila turtur Fairy Prion: huge flock 5-10,000 off Whitianga and 1000+ Cook Strait; a few seen elsewhere, but none at Chatham Is. Note: one Broad-billed Prion seen in Foveaux Strait only by Sav Saville.
054. Pterodroma axillaris Chatham Petrel: one seen at nest site on Pitt Island.
055. P. inexpectata Mottled Petrel: singles off Whitianga and in Foveaux Strait, seen by leaders only.
056. P. cookii Cook's Petrel: numerous in Hauraki Gulf and common off Whitianga.
057. P. pycrofti Pycroft's Petrel: numerous dark birds off Whitianga; the darkest individuals undoubtedly this species, but many intermediate birds unidentifiable.
058. P. macroptera Great-winged (Grey-faced) Petrel: 2 in Hauraki Gulf only sightings.
059. P. magentae Magenta Petrel (Chatham Taiko): One seen off the southwest corner of Chatham Island Dec 10. It was spotted at 9.40 pm (sunset 9.07 pm) by Ken Lowder approaching the boat from the west, probably attracted by the boat's running lights. I found it as it turned right towards the bow of the boat, when it was 20-30 ft away. I saw an all-dark bird with white underparts which were broad anteriorly and tapering rearward to a point, presumably the undertail coverts. The underwings were dark; if this had been a Cape Pigeon, the only other comparably-sized species present, I would have seen the bright white underwings easily, given the clearly-seen white underparts. Ken saw about the same features, as did Warwick Pickwell. Tania Ireton got onto the bird a bit late and only saw a dark bird flying away. Given the features seen, location, date, time of day, I am sure this was indeed a Magenta Petrel.
060. Pelecanoides urinatrix Common Diving-Petrel: Common throughout, including 2000 off Whitianga.
061. Morus serrator Australasian Gannet: Common in north, none south of Marlborough Sounds.
062. Phalacrocorax melanoleucos Little Pied Cormorant: widespread.
063. P. varius Pied Cormorant: widespread around coasts.
064. P. sulcirostris Little Black Cormorant: North I only, widespread in low numbers.
065. P. carbo Great Cormorant: widespread, including Chatham I.
066. Leucosticte carunculatus Rough-faced (King) Shag: 8 at southern tip of Blumine I., Queen Charlotte Sound.
067. L. chalconotus Stewart Island Shag: common Foveaux Strait area.
068. L. onslowi Chatham Shag: About 20 on cliffs near Waitangi; large colony on Round Island, Star Keys.
069. Stictocarbo punctatus Spotted Shag: none seen North I.; common Marlborough Sounds and Stewart Island.
070. S. featherstoni Pitt Island Shag: a few around Chatham Is; not numerous.
071. Tachybaptus novaehollandiae Australasian Little Grebe: 2 at Ormiston Rd pond near Waipu.
072. Poliocephalus rufopectus New Zealand Grebe (Dabchick): North I only; fairly common on lakes.
073. Podiceps cristatus Great Crested Grebe: 2 at Lake Pearson and 5 in Lake Ohau area.
074. Platalea regia Royal Spoonbill: widespread at estuaries in low numbers.
075. Egretta alba Great Egret (White Heron): 2 at Okarito Lagoon.
076. E. novaehollandiae White-faced Heron: widespread, including Chatham Is.
077. Botaurus poiciloptilus Australasian Bittern: 4 at Whangamarino Swamp, one flyover near Tauranga.
078. Milvus migrans Black Kite: one at Waihopai Valley Road seen by most of group.
079. Circus approximans Swamp Harrier: widespread, including Chatham Is.
080. Falco novaezeelandiae New Zealand Falcon: one at Cave Stream area, 3 near Athol.
081. Gallirallus australis Weka: one alongside road near Hokitika, common Ulva I. and Chatham I.
082. G. philippensis Buff-banded Rail: one at Wenderholm Park, 3 at Opoutere.
083. Porzana pusilla Baillon's (Marsh) Crake: one at Ruataniwha Wetland, Ohau Delta.
084. P. tabuensis Spotless Crake: one at Wharf Pond, Tiritiri Matangi I.
085. Porphyrio porphyrio Purple Swamphen: widespread, incl a few Chatham I.
086. P. hochstetteri South Island Takahe: 2+ Tiritiri Matangi I.
087. Fulica atra Common Coot: Okere Falls, Whakamaru, L. Taupo (Waihi), Wanganui (Virginia L).
088. Haematopus finschi South Island Pied Oystercatcher: widespread, at estuaries North and South I. and inland South I.
089. H. unicolor Variable Oystercatcher: widespread at estuaries and on beaches.
090. H. chathamensis Chatham Oystercatcher: 13 at various loccations Chatham Is.
091. Himantopus leucocephalus White-headed (Pied) Stilt: widespread.
092. H. novaezelandiae Black Stilt: 3 at Ahuriri Conservation Area, along with one hybrid, and one at L. Poaka.
093. Charadrius bicinctus Double-banded Plover: widespread at estuaries and riverbeds.
094. C. (=Anarhynchus) frontalis Wrybill: 32 at Miranda, 5 at L. Grassmere.
095. C. obscurus Red-breasted (New Zealand) Plover: 15 from Waipu Estuary south to Maketu.
096. Thinornis novaeseelandiae Shore Plover: 5 on Rangatira (Southeast) I., Chatham Is.
097. Elseyornis melanops Black-fronted Dotterel: one at gravel plant area on Rangitikei River at Bulls.
098. Vanellus miles Masked Lapwing (Spur-winged Plover): widespread; also Chatham I.
099. Limosa haemastica Hudsonian Godwit: one at Miranda.
100. L. lapponica Bar-tailed Godwit: widespread; 3500 at Miranda.
101. Numenius phaeopus Whimbrel: one at Kaikoura seal colony. Subsp. not determined.
102. Tringa incana Wandering Tattler: One at Kaikoura Peninsula.
103. Arenaria interpres Ruddy Turnstone: widespread.
104. Calidris canutus Red Knot: all seen were at North I. estuaries, where common.
105. C. ruficollis Red-necked Stint: 4 at Miranda, 5 at Maketu, 12 at L. Grassmere.
106. C. acuminata Sharp-tailed Sandpiper: 7 at Miranda, 2 at L. Grassmere.
107. Phalaropus lobatus Red-necked Phalarope: one at L. Grassmere.
108. Catharacta antarctica Brown Skua: one Hauraki Gulf; common Foveaux Strait and at Chatham Is.
109. Stercorarius parasiticus Parasitic Jaeger: fairly common around North I. and especially in Marlborough Sounds. None seen further south.
110. Larus dominicanus Kelp Gull: widespread.
111. L. scopulinus Red-billed Gull: widespread.
112. L. bulleri Black-billed Gull: widespread, including colony at Miranda; common inland South I.
113. Sterna caspia Caspian Tern: widespread in small numbers.
114. S. striata White-fronted Tern: widespread, including Chatham Is.
115. S. albifrons Little Tern: 2 at Miranda.
116. S. nereis Fairy Tern: 3 at Waipu Estuary.
117. S. albostriatus Black-fronted Tern: Seemed less numerous than in 2005; inland South I. riverbeds.
118. Columba livia Rock Pigeon: widespread; often away from human habitation.
119. Streptopelia roseogrisea Barbary (African Collared-) Dove: 2 in Orewa.
120. Streptopelia chinensis Spotted Dove: 6 at Puketutu I., Mangere, and one near Miranda at Mangatawhiri.
121. Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae New Zealand Pigeon: widespread.
122. H. chathamensis Chatham Island Pigeon (Parea): 6 at Awatotara River.
123. Cacatua galerita Sulphur-crested Cockatoo: 12 at Cascades Kauri Park.
124. Nestor notabilis Kea: Arthur's Pass, Homer Tunnel.
125. N. meridionalis Kaka: 4 seen over Little Barrier I., one at Tiritiri Matangi I., 4 at Pureora. Several South I. and common at Oban.
126. Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae Red-crowned Parakeet: Common Tiritiri Matangi I. and Ulva I.; nesting at Awatotara River on Chatham I. and heard at Caravan Bush, Pitt I.
127. C. auriceps Yellow-crowned Parakeet: a few at Pureora, Motuara I., Haast Pass, Ulva I.
128. C. forbesi Forbes's Parakeet: at least 3 on Mangere I., Chatham Is.
129. Platycercus eximius Eastern Rosella: common North I. with southernmost near Foxton.
130. Chrysococcyx lucidus Shining Bronze-Cuckoo: widespread, but hard to see well; taped one in close at Kauri Coast Holiday Park.
131. Urodynamis taitensis Long-tailed Cuckoo: 2-3 heard and one well-seen at Pureora, but none elsewhere.
132. Athene noctua Little Owl: Only sighting between Fairlie and Geraldine.
133. Ninox novaeseelandiae Morepork: heard whenever we were out after dark. None seen.
134. Dacelo novaeguineae Laughing Kookaburra: one at Matakana Rd junction with Anderson Rd near Warkworth.
135. Halcyon sanctus Sacred Kingfisher: widespread northern North I., fewer elsewhere.
136. Acanthisitta chloris Rifleman: 2 at Pureora, widespread South I. beech forests.
137. Xenicus gilviventris New Zealand Rock Wren: one male at Homer Tunnel.
138. Notiomystis cincta Stitchbird (Hihi): common at Tiritiri Matangi I.
139. Anthornis melanura New Zealand Bellbird: common at Tiritiri Matangi I. and from Pureora south through South I. and Ulva I.
140. Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae Tui: widespread except for southern North I. and northeastern South I., where none seen. Three on Pitt I.
141. Gerygone igata Grey Gerygone (Warbler): widespread.
142. G. albofrontata Chatham Islands Gerygone (Warbler): 2 at Awatotara River and 4 at Caravan Bush, Pitt I.
143. Callaeas cinereus Kokako: 4 on Tiritiri Matangi I.
144. Philesturnus rufasater Saddleback: currently the North and South Island Saddlebacks are considered one species, although they apparently will be split in the future. A South Island Saddleback was seen on Motuara I, Queen Charlotte Sound, and 5 on Ulva I. North Island Saddleback is common on Tiritiri Matangi I.
145. Gymnorhina tibicen Australasian Magpie: widespread.
146. Mohoua ochrocephala Mohua (Yellowhead): seen only on Ulva I., where 3 found.
147. M. albicilla Whitehead: common Tiritiri Matangi I., a few at Pureora.
148. M. novaeseelandiae Pipipi (Brown Creeper): widespread South I.
149. Rhipidura fuliginosa New Zealand Fantail: widespread North and South Is., 2 on Pitt I.
150. Corvus frugilegus Rook: Flock of 18 between Whakamaru and Pureora.
151. Petroica macrocephala New Zealand Tomtit: widespread in low numbers North and South Is., 4 on Pitt I.
152. P. australis New Zealand Robin: common Tiritiri Matangi I., Pureora, widespread South I, Ulva I.
153. Hirundo neoxena Welcome Swallow: widespread North I. and South I., numbers lower towards south. A few Chatham Is.
154. Alauda arvensis Sky Lark: widespread, including Chatham Is.
155. Bowdleria punctata Fernbird: heard only North I., seen well Bushy Point, Invercargill.
156. Zosterops lateralis Silver-eye: widespread, including Chatham Is.
157. Acridotheres tristis Common Myna: widespread North I.; southernmost near Wellington.
158. Sturnus vulgaris Common (European) Starling: widespread, including Chatham Is.
159. Turdus merula Eurasian Blackbird: widespread, a few on Chatham Is.
160. T. philomelos Song Thrush: widespread, most common in north; a few on Chatham Is.
161. Passer domesticus House Sparrow: widespread, including Chatham Is.
162. Prunella modularis Dunnock: widespread, but in low numbers northward. One on Chatham I.
163. Anthus novaeseelandiae New Zealand Pipit: widespread North and South Is., but somewhat localized by preferred habitat.
164. A. chathamensis Chatham Islands Pipit: common on Chatham and Pitt Is.
165. Fringilla coelebs Chaffinch: widespread.
166. Carduelis chloris European Greenfinch: widespread North and South Is.
167. C. carduelis Eurasian Goldfinch: widespread, including Chatham Is.
168. C. flammea Common Redpoll: widespread, especially to south, and on Chatham Is.
169. Emberiza citrinella Yellowhammer: widespread North and South Is.
170. E. cirlus Cirl Bunting: female and 2 juveniles near South Bay, Kaikoura Peninsula, and a male at Halswell Quarry Park, Christchurch.