8. New Zealand (1)

This is the first of the last three blogs and cover species not shown in the blog on parrots (March) and the more recent blogs on waders (shorebirds), herons, rails and so on. It is a long blog with some 43 photos and will be followed by New Zealand (2) which will deal with gulls, terns and storm-petrels, whiulst the last, New Zealand (3), will cover shearwaters and albatrosses. In this blog there is little comment unless deemed necessary and I am particularly grateful to Etienne Littlefair for his two photos of Great Kiwi, taken under very dim lighting conditions without flash, and also the Rock Wren taken on an absolutely vile day after hours waiting. My grateful thanks also to our tour leader for Wrybill Tours, Brent Stephenson, for the first photo, for being so darned good with us all and showing us so much with so much patience! So, that said, here goes ....
the group, Brent our intrepid leader kneelingl
 New Zealand has suffered an enormous number of introductions, many by exiled Brits who decided that British birds would improve those to be found naturally .....

A nice but distant and rather elusive male Yellowhammer, as much sought by Geoff, our Australian photographer who would go to nearly any lengths to get a decent photograph of one.
California Quail
Chukor Partridge
Other introduced species, presumably for hunting purposes, include the European Common Quail and the Chukor Partridge which amanages to maintain a self-sustaining population.

There are, fortunately, rather more interesting native species, and if asked probably the number one would be a Kiwi, although not which of the 4 species. One often sees these road signs, most of which have been peppered by non-consearvation minded hunters. We made nocturnal expeditions to see the, some very briefly, two with incredible success. The first, when photography was not allowed, was on an excursion with Ian Cooper of Okarito Kiwi Tours www.okaritokiwitours.co.nz to show us Okarito Brown Kiwi when first a radio-tracked female Jolene walked nonchalantly between us and was soon folowed by her smaller and shyer male. The second good views were when we went to an island off Stewart Island, crossing a Paterson Inlet (my ancestors must have got everywhere!) where Southern Brown Kiwis feed on insects on the same beach where Sir David Attenborough has also watched them. The photos are those of Etienne.

Southern Brown Kiwis
White-faced Heron
 Apart from the White-faced Herons, we also saw Royal Spoonbills and, with some luck after prolonged scanning, an Australasian Bittern.
Paradise Shelduck, female
Plumed / Grass Whistling Duck

Blue Ducks
New Zealand Falcon, an adult female and juvenile found after many days of fruitless searching;
New Zealand Falcon
Weka : a ridiculously tame endmic rail
Takahé: another ridiculously tame endemic, this from a population transferred to the rat-free Tiritiri Matangi Island where they wander freely amongst visitors
Mount Doom, an irresistable photograph with comments about us all being doomed. (Remember 'Dad's Army'?)

New Zealand Pigeon, difficult to photograph as they always seem to sit partially in sunshine and partially in shade
Sacred Kingfisher
Rock Wren (photo by Etienne Littlefair): diabolically secretive and maximum skulker, it took around 4 hours in pretty nasty weather for Etienne to get this photo. I failed!
There is a whole group of small and very attractive passerines, starting with the Silvereye above and including the Whitehead (we missed out seeing the Yellowhead), the Fantail, the black phase of this I found very attractive to watch, the Tomtit but the prize must go to the New Zealand Robin, a most incredibly confiding and inquisitive little bird as the following four photographs will show after one decided that Geoff was worth investigation.

New Zealand Robins and one investigating if Geoff was edible or harboured insects
The following are more native passerines..
Bellbird (female)
Tui (male)
So here endeth the 8th instalment of this series (actually number 9 but the parrots were earlier.

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