Auckland – Tiri Tiri Metangi Island

We arrive late to Auckland, during rush hour traffic, unlike most of New Zealand, Auckland traffic is quite similar to what we’re use to in North America….driving on the left didn’t help either. We checked into the Crowne Plaza for our two night stay.  Nice central location for everyone.

Next morning I was up early and walked down to the wharf catching the boat to Tiri Tiri Metangi island and the ladies hung out in Auckland.

Auckland  Skyline

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The waters going out to the Island were alive with birds…

Little Blue Penguin

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Fluttering Shearwater

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Australasian Gannet’s were very abundant

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Not sure what type of Jellyfish these are but there were hundreds in the water.

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We docked the boat and were given an orientation speech and off we went in search of birds……

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Variable Oystercatcher greeted us on our arrival.

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Saddleback

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And there were plenty of trails crisscrossing the island

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Blue paper fungus growing on tree

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Wild Takahe can be found raoming, anywhere on the island

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Tui Close Up, this was the most numerous bird

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Spent a few minutes with this bird while it was feeding n grasses

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Bellbird

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Saddleback

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Little Quail

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Kiwi Tracks in Mud

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North Island Robin

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Whitehead

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Whitehead

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Sue had a good day visiting a museum and touring the city…newzealandcookislands2016-478

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New Zealand was fun for us all, there’s something for everyone.

Ciao for now

 

 

Posted in Birds, Trips | 1 Comment

Waitamo – Glow Worms, Caves and Kiwi House

We left Rotorua easily and headed back west to Waitamo.  There are sections of caves that you can visit here.  Sue and I chose the Glowworm Cave and Aranui Cave.  Zoe went to all three Gloworm, Aranui and Ruakuri Caves.

I really thought this would be a money grab but was I wrong, yes the price is a bit steep but the tours are awesome and like nothing we’ve seen before.

The glowworm caves are dark and photos isn’t allowed.  In the other cave I did my best but the images are fairly grainy due to high ISO.

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Cave Wetas – only wildlife in the caves

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Sue and I had a bit of time to kill while we waited for Zoe’s final cave  tour to end and we went to a nearby Kiwi House.

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Pacific Black Duck (Grey Duck)

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Blue Duck

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Cape Barren Goose

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Sacred Kingfisher

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Spur-winged Plover

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Banded Rail

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New Zealand Shoveler

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Grey Teal

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Weka

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Brown Kiwi at 1.6 million ISO, yup near total darkness and I still got an image

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On the way to pick up Zoe I found a few more new birds for the trip.

Song Thrush

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A Wild Sacred Kingfisher

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Another great day had by all….

Ciao for now

Posted in Birds, Trips | 1 Comment

Wellington to Rotorua – Birds, Thermal Parks and Caves

We left Wellington knowing we’d be back there some day.  I could easily see, Sue and I, going there for a winter break.  Friendly people, scenery and climate.

There were more dairy/cattle farms in the north but the variety of pasture birds seemed to be the same as on the South Island.

Pied Stilt

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We did see more Redpolls and Finches near Taupo

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A smoking up close look at a Yellowhammer, the second of this trip.

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Young Black-billed Gull

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Crazy panorama..

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European Import’s

Eurasian Coot

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Black Swan

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Dabchick Grebe

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Love is in the air

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Black-billed Gull

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Spur-winged Plover

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This photo doesn’t really show just how much water is going through this gorge at Huka Falls.

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Next stop was the Orakei Korako Geothermal Park & Cave, another spot that’s worth the price of admission.  An enjoyable afternoon.

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A small boat takes you to the Thermal Park

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The Cave

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Fantail

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Welcome Swallow

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Sue planned to go to the Te Puia, the Maori cultural center and geothermal wonder and I looked around the area for spots to bird.

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I happened on a Waste dump with thousands of gulls and after donning a hard hat and safety jacket they let me wander about taking images of Kelp Gulls.

1st cycle

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Adult

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1st Cycle

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3rd Cycle

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Adult

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1st

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1st

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2nd

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1st

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1st

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2nd

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We thought it would be a great to call it a day, early and enjoy dinner in Rotorua.

We chose an Italian restaurant…with interesting wall décor.  first Italian restaurant I’ve ever been in that bread wasn’t included with your meal.  You had to pay for it.

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A great day had by all

Ciao for now

 

 

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Wellington – Zealandia

We headed out on the ferry from Picton, south Island to Wellington, North island on August 26.  The weather was not very good for viewing, foggy, rainy and windy, oh and did I mention cold….

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I did see a few things from the deck…

Spotted Shag

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I’m thinking White-capped Albatross

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I was pouring when we reached Wellington but it was the only heavy rain we had in New Zealand.

Great view and  sunrise through our window…

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Next morning under clear skies we visited Zealandia, a must for anyone who wants to see native birds.  These birds can fly in and out of the sanctuary, the fence keeps the introduced predators out.

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Why The Fence

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Why the fence is so high.

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The sanctuary covers 225 hectares (over 550 acres)

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There is a bit of climbing involved..

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There are awesome birds found here that allow you to get close…

New Zealand Pigeon

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Grey Warbler

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Pied Cormorant

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They have a pair of Takahe, who’ve been together for a long time and can no longer breed so they were moved here to make room for younger birds on Mana Island.  They are called Puffin and T2, very approachable.

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Bellbird

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Stitchbird

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Kakariki – Red-crowned Parakeet

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Kaka

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Saddleback

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Tui

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New Zealand Parrot

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A surprising European introduction – Dunnock

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Beautiful paradise Duck

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A very interesting selection of paintings on the wall

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A bird I really wanted to see a Kakapo0, was on loan to the another sanctuary…would have like to see this bird.

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Outside the coffee shop was a sign that caught Sue’s attention…

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A reminder that things aren’t always safe…

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There were a few endangered Lizards…

Tuatara

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Wellington Green Gecko

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We had a bit of time left so we visited the Cable Car Museum nearby, small but cool, with lovely views of Wellington.

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That night there was a game between The All Blacks (New Zealand) and the Wallabies (Australia) so we grabbed some wine and did what everyone else in the country was doing, watched the game.  The view helped.

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Next morning we explored Wellington, walked a bit downtown and visited the Museaum of New Zealand – Te Papa Tongarewa, some of the areas in the museum, photos are not allowed.  I would have loved to show you the Maori area but you’ll have to visit on your own for that one.

I would have loved to find a Morpork Owl.

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New and Old

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This map was particularly sad of how much forest has been destroyed

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Norway Rat with poison pellet

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Kakapo

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A Kakako, another bird I tried hard to see…

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North we go….

Ciao for now

Posted in Birds, Trips | 1 Comment

Kaikoura – Albatross Encounters

Not much to say about this pelagic, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.  Before we left for our pelagic I finally got to see and touch my first little Brown Kiwi.

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Let the pelagic begin.

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Here’s one I’m not sure about but looks good for this species….

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Cape Petrel

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Here are two I can’t make up my mind which species they are, looks good for both.

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Salvin’s Albatross

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More Salvin’s Albatross

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Antipodean Albatross

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Another that looks good for Antipodean Albatross

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Spotted Cormorant

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Little Pied Shag

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From start to finish it was only 3 hours but with all the action it seemed like 10 minutes.  We were less than 2 miles from shore, drifting, bird were everywhere.

Kaikoura Albatross Encounters a name to remember if you are on the south island of New Zealand.  I knw I’ll be back there some day.

Zoe found an interesting side trip, just north or Kaikoura is the Ohau Stream Walkway and Waterfall in Half Moon Bay.  During the winter months fur seal pups can be seen on the rocks along the path and frolicking in the pool below the waterfall.  Another must see.

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The coastline was lovely here, wished it had been sunnier.

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Adult New Zealand Fur Seal doing what they do best, relaxing.

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While we stopped for a snack we found numerous birds on the beach.  New Zealand crayfish (lobsters without claws) were $80 dollars per 1/2 pound.

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Variable Oystercatcher

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Pied Cormorant

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Red-billed Gull

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Black-billed Gull

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Later we returned to Kaikoura and head to a spot where we’d hoped Little Blue Penguin’s would come in to roost.  No luck.  We did see plenty of Kelp Gulls though and a lovely sunset.

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The view from our hotel the next morning.

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Ciao for now

 

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South Island, New Zealand

During our layover in Vancouver, Sue and I met up with our friends Dave and Pat.  We stopped for lunch and went for a walk….not much was happening birding wise.  Only thing of interest we found, was this lovely Long-billed Dowitcher.

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And had some great blackberries on the walk, they were everywhere along the path.

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It’s amazing how much shorter Dave is, than I remember.

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The only insect we saw was this Fiery Skipper.

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Soon it was time to head back to the airport for our 13 hour flight to New Zealand.

Great flight, food was very good, drinks were free, lots on the entertainment screens and the seat were very spacious.  A very enjoyable time.  I’d fly Air New Zealand anytime.

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As if 13 hours wasn’t enough, we waited  for our next flight to Queenstown.  Was a good call by my daughter Zoe, instead of driving to the South Island and back.  We would drive from south to north.   We never would have had enough time to drive both direction.  Driving is on the left and while the roads are good.  Averaging 80km per hour is tough.

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We arrived in Queenstown, and as we walked to the rental car, came across this sign.  Pretty cool.

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After 15 hours in planes, we headed straight to our hotel just outside of Queenstown, I got a taste of driving on left again.  Then we headed out to Moke Lake to get some fresh air.

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My first New Zealand was a Pacific Black Duck (Grey Duck to the Kiwi’s).

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There were many Pied Oystercatchers in the fields.

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I also saw this import, a Chaffinch, on a post.

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Even the sheep were happy with the weather, remember this is supposed to be their winter….

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It was getting dark and we were bagged, so back to the hotel for a dinner and a few drinks then off to bed.  Lovely sunset that evening.

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Great view of Queenstown from our hotel the next morning.

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We headed towards the West Coast, stopping briefly at Wanaka, on Lake Wanaka.  Pick up a few birds and again breathtaking scenery.

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New Zealand Pipit

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When we arrived at Wanaka, their were many birds….

White-eye

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Small Pied Cormorant

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New Zealand Scaup

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Black-billed Gull

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Eurasian Grebe

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Black-billed Gull

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Little Pied Cormorant

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Eurasian Blackbird

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We moved on up the West Coast, heading in the direction of the Fox and the Franz Josef Glacier.

Australian Magpie

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Paradise Duck

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Kelp Gull

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A lovely Red Deer Stag

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Purple Gallinule

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We finally arrived at the Glaciers…

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After a 30 minute walk we arrived at the glacier.

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On the way out I found a few birds in the shrubbery..

Not sure about this one

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Fantail

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Tomtit

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We went moved on to the Bella Vista Motel, in Franz Josef,  heading out to the Franz Josef Glacier, the next morning.  Another climb, to get the best view.

Before heading out to the Glacier, I took a short walk through the town….came around the corner and found my only Moa of the trip.

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On to the Glacier

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HDR of the glacier.

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We stopped along the coast and were enjoying the scenery but the sand flies had other ideas…the only time we encountered biting bugs on the whole trip.

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A lovely water fall…

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We headed for Arthurs Pass, where I’d been told you could see wild Kea’s.  Not that I couldn’t see one anywhere but these birds were used to having people nearby.

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Zoe making a new friend…

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These birds love rubber, and any unattended vehicle is fair game, if you go there keep an eye on your car.

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After a coffee break we headed towards the east coast, with great scenery and the occasional bird.

Spur-winged Plover

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Perfect Reflection

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Plenty of sheep on South Island

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Black Swan (European Import)

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Young Gull

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Red-Billed Gull

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White-faced Heron

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1st year Kelp Gull

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Variable Oystercatcher

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We arrived in Kaikoura that afternoon and I went by the Albatross Encounters office and arranged a pelagic for the next morning.

Ciao for now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Birds, Trips | 2 Comments

Antelope Island and Bear River NWR

I had been keeping lists since the early 90’s and was never satisfied with my Chukar entry on my list and since both Chris and I needed a Chukar for our year lists, off we went to Antelope Island.

Antelope Island never disappoints, there may have been half a million phalaropes on what little water there was, feeding on a fly hatch.  Every inch of shoreline was occupied by thousands of Franklin Gull’s feeding on the same flies.

Red-necked Phalarope

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As soon as I set up my scope to look over the water, I heard Chris say he had a Chukar in his scope.

Chukar

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Driving the circuit there were many free ranging animals to see…

Mule Deer

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Bison

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Pronghorn Antelope

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A very cooperative Rock Wren, my best photo to date.

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Lots of Swallows suffering in the 106 F degree temperatures

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I didn’t find many insects but Western Meadowhawk’s were numerous

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On our way out we came across a young pheasant

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It was time to move northward towards Bear River Wildlife Refuge.  We both needed Grebes for our list and we hoped we’d see Western Grebes and maybe a Clarke’s Grebe.  Were we in for a surprise….there must have been at least 400-500 of both species in the water.  Some as close as 5 feet off shore and many still had young of various ages.

Clarke’s Grebe – Western Grebe Comparision

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Clarke’s Grebe

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Western Grebe

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It was so much fun photographing these birds at such close range.

Many other species could be found at this Wildlife Reserve.

American Crows

AmericanCrow2016

Black-necked Stilt

BlackneckedStilt2016

With Young

BlackneckedStiltJuvenile2016

Young American Coot

JuvenileCoot2016

Long Billed Dowitcher

LongbilledDowitchers2016

Marbled Godwits

MarbledGodwits2016B

Northern Harriers

NorthernHarrier2016D

Ring-billed Gull

RingbilledGull2016

Ruddy Duck

RuddyDuck2016 RuddyDuck2016B

Sage Thrasher

SageThrasher2016

Sandhill Crane

SandhillCrane2016B

White Pelican

WhitePelican2016

I will visit this Wildlife Refuge again, what an awesome place.

Ciao for now

 

 

 

 

 

 

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