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Friday, 26 April 2013

New Zealand

Waitakere Ranges and Omaha 


The park and ranges are not far from Auckland, in fact less than 30 minutes away, it has a visitor centre full of goodies overlooking a vast sub-tropical forest. Of the fauna one of the many attractions is the Kauri Tree, they are quite simply enormous both in girth, similar to my waistline nowadays, and in height. Like Redwoods they are staggering to observe as many have their own little ecological system up higher with a number of other fauna growing out of them, the trees in the park are about a 1000 years old but some can be double that.

There are a number of walks you can go on, from short ones which myself and Shaun were doing around an hour, to all day walks, the interior is very dense, if you leave the footpath you can become disorientated and lost, people have.
As we started our walk the first birds that gave themselves up were Sulphar Crested Cockatoo, an Australian introduction, as with most Parrots they were heard before we saw them, they are loud.

Tom Tit

Grey Warbler

Going deeper I got onto a Fernbird in an open marsh section, trying to get a photo of this proved impossible, I then had brief views of a Rifleman and then as we moved on a Grey Warbler. The density 
of the habitat made it very hard to get onto anything, tantalizing glimpses and then gone.

The best bird by far and one that I have not seen came as we exited the forest, a pair of Tom Tits, although a common endemic I had missed them on the first trip in 2007, the male in particular was a little cracker. The photos I got of him were not great as I forgot to up the ISO for the umpteenth time, never less there not too bad.

New Zealand Pigeon - bigger than our Woodie significantly

A New Zealand Pigeon was outside as we drew up near the car finished the walk off, not a lot of species seen; New Zealand doesn’t have a big list of birds but just enjoyable walking through the Forest. 


My daughter and Shaun had booked this up for 4 days for a getaway break for us all, the house was stunning, right next to a 2 mile beach that had no one on it, and at the end of the beach was a Bird Reserve, exceptionally stunning .The reserve was a breeding site for New Zealand Dotterel and Fairy Tern, both very rare and endangered, unfortunately both had bred and moved on as we were now starting Autumn. 2 days in and I headed down the beach for a walk, Gannet, Banded Dotterel, Arctic Skua and Caspian Tern were all seen on the way, I did find 4 NZ Dotterel but these were feeding distantly out at low tide when I got to the end. Amongst them were Bar Tailed Godwits, Banded Dotterel and both Oyc’s,after a good look round I then headed back, age, 70 odd degrees and all the gear I was carrying, camera, bins, backpack and telescope was taking its toll. It used to be so easy when all I had was bins.

The endless beach

What beach's are for, fun - Erin and Shaun

Banded Dotterel

Caspian Tern

The next day I grabbed an hour at dawn and walked inland and found a lake, a proper little oasis, this held a number of Waterfowl, no fewer than 14 Brown Teal which is a rarity, 4 Australian Shoveler, 10 Grey Duck, a pair of Paradise Shelduck and Pukeko’s everywhere. 
Silvereyes and Fantails were everywhere as usual and a White Faced Heron put on a good show for the camera.

Brown Teal 

Grey Duck

White Faced Heron

Australasian Shoveler

During the stay I also went and saw Auckland Blues play at Eden Park, for those that know me I am a big Rugby fan having followed Saracens for years, this visit was a Fathers day present from my daughter. Glad to say that the Blues won, comparing it to the English game and there is no doubt that there is more tenacity at the breakdown, I think that this comes from a naturally strong and athletic people. 

Eden Park

Try time

Great to watch and a marvelous atmosphere so a big thank you to my daughter Julie and Shaun and the company of Jeff and Danni.