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Day 21: Marlborough Sounds to Abel Tasman National Park

sunny 77 °F

Today we traveled from our secluded cottage in Marlborough Sounds to Abel Tasman National Park, a beautiful preserve in the northwestern part of the South Island of New Zealand.

Our first activity for the day was a water taxi ride bright and early to the nearest town, Picton. To my delight, word had gotten out that I was a birder, and we had a few un scheduled stops for some good birds, namely shags.

Our first stop was at a colony of rare SPOTTED SHAGS:
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Our second stop was at a mixed colony of shags, namely LITTLE BLACK and PIED SHAGS:

Little Black Shag:
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Pied Shag:
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It was an awesome mini tour!

Once in Picton, I immediately photographed this intermediate subspecies of LITTLE SHAG. That makes four shag species seen in just a half an hour!
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I also saw this gorgeous BLACK-BILLED GULL:
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Then, our tour guide offered to give us a quick look in the local nature museum. I got to touch this amazing Tuatara, a reptile species that has been around since before dinosaurs:
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After saying goodbye to our guide, our family hopped in our new rental car and we drove off.

Our only stop on the drive to our new abode was at a restaurant that only served green mussels as its main course. My mom and dad gobbled up the mussels while Pearl and I consumed the two main food groups: French fries and Coke. :-)

The rest of our drive was uneventful and our new cottage is at a beautiful seaside location near Abel Tasman National Park. The best things about the place we're staying at is the bounty of fruit trees around (we can pick as much fruit as we want), and large intertidal mudflats just a short walk from our place (great for birding).

After a quick dip in our personal pool, I headed to the mudflats to do some intense shorebirding. I saw species including WHITE-FACED and PACIFIC REEF HERONS, SOUTH ISLAND and VARIABLE OYSTERCATCHERS, BAR-TAILED GODWIT, PIED STILT, RED-BILLED, BLACK-BILLED, and KELP GULLS. Here are some of the photos:

White-faced Heron
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Variable Oystercatcher (black subspecies)
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Bar-tailed Godwit
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South Island Oystercatcher
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Pied Stilt. My favorite part about this bird is its flashy pink legs.
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I also saw some interesting rock formations near the mudflats:
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So, the bird-of-the-day award will be shared by four species today. Since it was a "four shag day", which is very noteworthy, I award bird-of-the-day to the four shags seen today: Spotted, Pied, Little Black, and Little Shags.

Tomorrow is our only full day in Abel Tasman National Park. It will surely be beautiful, so stay tuned!

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 502 Species (no new life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 23:14 Archived in New Zealand

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Comments

thanks for all the great pics, Henry!! The 'shags' remind me of cormorants a little.
the Pied Stilt looks like it belongs on a modeling runway for bird fashion!
I heard recently that changes in the timing of insect hatches greatly affects migrating birds, especially the long distance species. Yet another climate change consideration...... I hope to visit a Lek (Greater Sage Grouse) this year on regional field trips here

by mary Estalene

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