Thursday 6 February 2014 65 °F
Here is the combined post for the past three days in New Zealand. Note that the dates are in New Zealand time, of course.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4:
On this day we went from our cottage in Kaiteriteri to a pleasant chalet in the mountainous town of Hanmer Springs. I managed to bird the nearby estuary before we left:
NEW ZEALAND KINGFISHER
We then hopped in the car to drive to Hanmer Springs. Our first stop was for lunch and a small hike at Nelson Lakes National Park:
BLACK-BILLED GULL seen in the parking lot. Notice that it is banded by the ring on its leg.
A cute GREY DUCKling:
View from our picnic table:
The hike was lovely.
NEW ZEALAND BELLBIRD
We saw many massive beech trees on the hike, including the one pictured below:
Our second stop was for another small hike. I saw this nice waterfall while hiking:
My family's third and final stop for the day was at a beautiful waterfall that was created when an intense earthquake lifted up the ground:
Finally, we made it to Hanmer Springs. The view from our chalet was beautiful, with mountains all over the evening horizon.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5:
On Wednesday we traveled from Hanmer Springs in the mountains to Kaikoura, a village on the Pacific Ocean. I saw a view nice birds on the car ride, including this lovely juvenile AUSTRALIAN MAGPIE:
Then, after we arrived at our motel in Kaikoura, we took a hike near the sea. My mom and dad were both reminded of Ireland. I saw a plethora of wildlife along the way, including the following:
Female COMMON CHAFFINCH
Cool rock formation:
It was a nice day.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 6:
Today I partook in an amazing pelagic (seafaring) birding tour in the Pacific Ocean off of Kaikoura. I saw amazing bird species, including not one, not two, not three, but FOUR species of albatross! I saw ROYAL, WANDERING, SALVIN'S, and WHITE-CAPPED ALBATROSS! The way we saw so many of these giants is because we "chumed" off of the back of the boat. Chuming is when you throw bits of fish and bread into the water to attract waterbirds, in this case, albatross and other pelagics. Wandering Albatross have the largest wingspan of any living bird, so it was amazing to see them. Other pelagic species included NORTHERN GIANT, WESTLAND, WHITE-CHINNED, and CAPE PETRELS, HUTTON'S SHEARWATER, ARCTIC SKUA, AUSTRALASIAN GANNET, and LITTLE BLUE PENGUIN. Other waterbird seen were PIED, SPOTTED, LITTLE, and BLACK SHAGS, WHITE-FRONTED and BLACK-FRONTED TERNS, and KELP, RED-BILLED, and BLACK-BILLED GULLS. Mammals seen were Dusky and Common Dolphins, New Zealand Fur Seals, even a Sperm Whale! It was a wholly awesome tour! Here are the photos:
NORTHERN GIANT PETRELS:
This one was doing its mating ritual. Notice its upwards-facing tail:
WANDERING ALBATROSS. Largest wingspan in the world!
Here is a view of the sheer number of pelagic birds that flocked around the back of the boat when we chumed:
WANDERING and SALVIN'S ALBATROSS:
Me in front of all of the birds:
WHITE-CHINNED PETREL. Note that this bird does not have a white chin because it is the New Zealand subspecies.
Juvenile BLACK-FRONTED TERN
New Zealand Fur Seals:
Endangered HUTTON'S SHEARWATERS:
After the tour, we drove to Christchurch and arrived at a very SKANKY motel we are currently in. The toilet will not flush and the motel room smells acutely of onions and mold.
The bird-of-the-day award will go to many species today. It will be shared by WANDERING ALBATROSS, ROYAL ALBATROSS, WHITE-CAPPED ALBATROSS, SALVIN'S ALBATROSS, HUTTON'S SHEARWATER, and ARCTIC SKUA. There were just so many amazing birds today, I can't choose! This was arguably the best day of birding in my entire life.
World Life List: 511 Species (8 new life birds today)