Smith’s Longspur – Crazy Day in the Life of a Birder

Time to start catching up with my posts.

I heard about the Smith’s Longspur being seen, near Long Point, Ontario on December 17th, a few weeks before the January 1st 2017,  date I planned to get going again after a few months break, from birding.

This was a great bird and I just couldn’t pass it up but the 7 hour drive through Toronto, wasn’t that appealing.  I checked for flights and the prices were out of this world so my only choice was to drive.

So I decided to go on the 19th of December if it was still there…I waited at home, until I saw Rex Bartlett’s post that the bird had been seen at 8:10am.

I jumped in the car and off I went.   611 km from my door, through Toronto traffic, after being stuck for an hour in Oshawa and then again in Pickering, I arrived at the area at 3:33pm.   Most of the people were packing up after having seen the bird, I could see the flock feeding by the side of the road and the Longspur was among them.

Pulling over to the side of the road to have a better look, a car coming the other way spooked all the birds…..I though here they go but to my surprise the birds flew in a circle and landed right beside my car, leading the way was the Smith’s Longspur.

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After 30 minutes the light began to fade and it was time to drive back the 611 km to home.  I stopped for a bit to visit with friends in Toronto and got home at  1am.

Someday I’ll visit Churchill to see this bird in breeding plumage but for now, it will have to do.

Ciao for now

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AutoCentrics – Oiltrell, 106-30 Stafford Rd, Nepean ON K2H 8W1

I just returned from a trip to Europe expecting to sign a contract with the owner of Oiltrell in Bells Corners for a 1991 Mazda Miata, as per our verbal arrangement on the 27th of October.

I was so excited to have Greg start working on this car for me that I ordered $500 dollars worth of parts from California for the car.  Hopefully I can still cancel the order.

Well Today I went and saw him to arrange our meeting for tomorrow and he told me that he sold the car.

I guess his word means nothing.  I will never do business there again.  Words can’t describe how disappointed I am today, I was so looking forward to this.

I guess a verbal agreement means nothing these days.

Paul

 

 

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Rarotonga Cook Islands

We arrived in Rarotonga, Cook Islands after a relatively short flight.

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Petrified Coral could be found anywhere on the beach, huge pieces of coral and shells are everywhere.

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Not many shorebirds but Wandering Tattlers were common

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Lovely Flowers…

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First day Frigatebird

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Our accommodations at http://www.tropicalsands.co.ck/

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Pacific Reef Heron on Beach, they come in two color phases.

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Another Tattler

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Tropical Sands

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My Birding Ride

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Avatiu Harbour

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Shoreline at low tide

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Unlike other ocean destinations, we’ve been the shallows were alive with life

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Lovely blue clam, I found while wading

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Rarotonga Starling

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Most abundant bird Jungle Fowl

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I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Ian Karika who is the manager of the Takitumi Conservatin Area searching for a Kakerori or Rarotonga (Flycatcher ) Monarch an endemic species of the island. The totally Grey bird is over 4 years old and the other is under 4. Pretty cool to watch Ian call the birds in, not by pishing but clapping and calling out. He has more than doubled the population of these rare birds since 1996. Thanks Ian

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Rarotonga Flycatcher Adult Above, younger bird below

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Going to the summit

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Not what I signed up for but what a blast..

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For info Contact: Ian Karika – Kakerori@tca.co.ck

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Big surprise at summit was the fly by of two White-tailed Tropicbird’s, I wished I’d been more ready.

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Cucumber Moth

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Second most numerous bird the Myna

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Something seems familiar

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Jungle Fern

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Insects

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Large Bats

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Life in the shallows

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Early morning sighting on beach in front of Tropical Sands

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At night the sand becomes alive with movement

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More photos of Tropical Sands

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Our hosts Kanoe and Rudy, great place, very clean, nice people

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White Tern

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I took a photo of two flying tropicbirds and it was a total surprise to find they were a pair of Red-tailed Tropicbirds

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No Idea

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I wanted this shirt, but they only had mediums

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From the Islander Hotel across from the airport, waiting for flight and watching whales

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A great time…

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Whales were happy too

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Last look at Rarotonga

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Until the next adventure

Ciao for now

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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

 

 

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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

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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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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

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