New Zealand birds post / photo dump - Part I - North Island

All things winged, in the field or your own private aviary.

Moderator: Scott Waters

Post Reply
User avatar
chrish
Posts: 3298
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX
Contact:

New Zealand birds post / photo dump - Part I - North Island

Post by chrish » July 11th, 2014, 2:19 pm

Spent about a week in New Zealand in May visiting family. Wasn't a birding trip per se, but I did manage to get out and see a few birds.

It was winter, but the Tui were extremely active and vocal. I don't know if they pair up in the early winter or what, but they were calling and fighting like cats and dogs!

Image

One of the more common birds around my parent's house is the introduced California Quail. This is one of this year's products -

Image

Other introduced birds around their yard include the Eurasian Blackbird (which I regard as a very handsome bird for a Turdus) -

Image

and the introduced Australian Eastern Rosella (I can't ever get a photo of these high strung missiles) -

Image

They also have native birds around their house including the abundant Silvereye -

Image

and the Gray Gerygone (Gray Warbler) -

Image

Lots of Welcome Swallows were still around -

Image

Because they live on the coast, most of the birds I see near their home are shorebirds. Any walk down to the beach will produce

Oystercatchers of two species (standing in the boat harbor parking lot of course!) -

Image

The South Island Pied Oystercatcher -

Image

and the aptly named Variable Oystercatcher which can be Pied or solid black or anywhere in between

Image
Image

Several species of Cormorant/Shag can be found along the coast there although I only photographed two this trip - Little Pied Cormorant

Image

The juveniles are tricky because they aren't Pied so they look like a different species

Image

and the slightly larger Pied Cormorant -

Image

Down at the water's edge you get 2 common species of gull (Kelp and Silver Gull) and 1 common species of tern (White-fronted), but I didn't photograph those. The only larid I photographed near their house was this less common Caspian Tern -

Image

Any walk down to the mudflats at low tide will produce a variety of birds including the White-faced Heron -

Image

and one of my favorites, the beautiful Pied Stilt -

Image

I was surprised to see a couple of these Bar-tailed Godwits around. While most of the world's population does winter here in NZ, by this time (mid May) they should be up in Alaska breeding.

Image

Masked Lapwings were also hanging around in the area -

Image

Actually the most interesting bird I found near their house was one I had never seen in the area before. It hadn't rained in almost two weeks (a long time in NZ) and one night it rained heavily. The next morning I went down to the mangroves and saw dozens of these walking about on the grass and sidewalks. Apparently they had come up out of the mangroves to drink the fresh water from the puddles. In many trips down to these mangroves, I had never noticed a single one before.

Buff-banded Rail

Image

I made a few trips to a regional park (Tawharanui - pronounced Tarfranu-ee) that has had the predators (Stoats, Weasels, Ferrets, Possums, Cats, Rats, etc) removed by extensive trapping and baiting and now is starting to see the arrival and reintroduction of many native species which had been largely extirpated from the mainland.

The forests their now ring again with that archetypical New Zealand forest song - the song of the Bellbird.

Image

In the woods there I also saw a few of the newly established population of North Island Saddleback -

Image
Image

Whenever you see these NZ natives like this North Island Robin, you understand just how vulnerable they are. They evolved/adapted to an island with no mammalian or reptilian predators so they simply walk/hop around on the ground and low in bushes without making much effort to get away. In some areas where they are more habituated, you have to be careful not to step on them at times. They are sitting ducks for mammalian predators like cats.

Image

Also common in Tawharanui now is the Brown Teal or Pateke. These shy little ducks of forest streams were introduced back there a few years ago and now have bred and become established. They have also become used to humans so they can be seen more easily -

Image

One thing about birding in NZ is that raptor ID is easy. Over most of the country, if you see a raptor flying, hunting or eating roadkills, it can only be the Australasian Harrier -

Image

I also saw a few of the "native" quail, the Brown Quail -

Image

The pastures of Tawharanui (and pretty much all of New Zealand) are overrun with Pukeko (Purple Swamphen). Over most of their large range, Purple Swamphens are relatively shy gallinules, tending to hang around in marshes like normal gallinules. In New Zealand, the absence of predators have allowed them to become a grazing animal like sheep and they are abundant on parks, pastures, golf courses, road medians, etc..

Image

Another common pasture bird of the North Island is the gorgeous Paradise Shelduck. These ducks form lifelong pair bonds and are almost always found in pairs with a stunning black-headed male and his pretty white-headed female

Image

So that was my north island birding. I really didn't do much birding frankly, but still managed to see a few interesting species. The real birding part of the trip was when I went to the south island and went offshore in Kaikoura. Details and photos in the next post.

User avatar
monklet
Posts: 2648
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
Location: Ventura, CA
Contact:

Re: New Zealand birds post / photo dump - Part I - North Isl

Post by monklet » July 11th, 2014, 8:27 pm

Wow, you pounded it!!!

J-Miz
Posts: 372
Joined: October 28th, 2010, 3:26 pm

Re: New Zealand birds post / photo dump - Part I - North Isl

Post by J-Miz » July 12th, 2014, 4:19 am

Great...now I want to go birding in New Zealand.

Lovely photos. I used to have a pet Eastern Rosella (appropriately named "Rainbow"). I miss him! Such gaudy birds. And I really like that white-faced heron...what beautiful plumage. But all your finds are awesome...stuff I'll probably never see in person.

Thanks for spending the time to take us all along!

Post Reply