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New Zealand Birding Trip

3–29 November 2001

I spent 26 glorious days birding New Zealand, Tiritiri Matangi Island Preserve, Stewart Island, Chatham Island, and Pitt Island with W. Ross Silcock, New Zealand Land and Pelagic Tours, Tabor, IA (see web information at end of photos), and his tour group in 2001.

We birded from the top of the north island to Invercargill at the southern tip of the south island.  The landscapes ranged from miles of undulating green hills with small herds of sheep, New Zealand red deer, American wapiti, and dairy cows on the north island to the majestic snow-covered peaks of the southern Alps on the south island.  A twenty-minute flight across the Foveaux Strait to the only town of Oban on beautiful and peaceful Stewart Island for a 2-day stay provided more bird species endemic to that island.  A highlight was a wonderful look at a Brown Kiwi at about 1 a.m. after being chased down the beach by a Hooker’s Sea Lion.

Following the main part of the tour, I and three others flew 600 miles east of Christchurch to Waitangi on Chatham Island for an amazing four days on that isolated and wonderful island where we found many bird species endemic to Chatham Island.  A 4-hour pelagic trip across Pitt Strait to Pitt Island yielded bird species endemic to Pitt island and a bonus of 6,000 pelagic species feeding around a large fishing trawler.

Highlights of the trip included 12 pelagic trips where we found 9 albatross taxa and 26 pelagic species in all.  A total of 138 species were recorded; in addition, we added another 7 species and found all the endemic species and subspecies except four on the amazing visit to the Chatham Islands.

I did not own my Canon digital camera and 100-400-mm Canon image-stabilized lens at the time of this trip, so all photos were taken with a point and shoot camera and scanned; hence, very few bird photos, unfortunately.

Click on photo to enlarge.

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1-NZ Brown Kiwi photographed by I. Visser and purchased from VIREO, Philadelphia


2-NZ Tour participants Kay Niyo, Al McTavish, leader Ross Silcock, Ann Barker, boat captain, Russ Widner, Mary Jensen, Nancy Brown, NZ Dept. of Conservation coleader Wynston Cooper, Norm Jensen on Double Vision catamaran bound for Tiritiri Matangi Island.


3-NZ Double Vision bound for Tiritiri Matangi Island.


4-NZ Tiritiri sign


5-NZ View from Tiritiri to Auckland on the north island


6-NZ Tiritiri lighthouse


9-NZ Greigg, the Takahe, rare endemic, with Ann Barker on Tiritiri


10-NZ Ross Silcock and Greigg, the Takahe


17-NZ Another Takehe, rare endemic on Tiritiri


18-NZ View of Auckland from Tiritiri


19-NZ Tiritiri harbor


21-NZ Preserved Governor's Mansion on Kawau Island near Tiritiri


23-NZ Little Barrier Island pelagic trip


28-NZ Wrybill at Miranda Shorebird Center


32-NZ Tane Mahuta, the ancient Kauri tree (gymnosperm) at Waipoua Forest Park


34-NZ Tane Mahuta, the ancient Kauri tree (gymnosperm) at Waipoua Forest Park


39-NZ Native New Zealand Scaup and Little Black Shag nests near Rotorua


41-NZ Black Swans introduced from Australia


45-NZ Maori canoe (waka) at Rotorua


47-NZ Maori welcome ceremony at Rotorua


48-NZ Rotorua government buildings


49-NZ Lawn bowling, Rotorua


56-NZ Ngauruhoe Volcano in Tongariro NP


57-NZ Lake Taupo


59-NZ Rare endemic King Shag colony on White Rocks in Cook Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound


61-NZ Red-billed Gull near Kaikoura, South Island


62-NZ Red-billed Gull near Kaikoura, South Island


64-NZ Kaikoura Bay and Mountains


65-NZ Kaikoura Cemetery


66-NZ Dolphin boat used for pelagic trip out of Kaikoura


72-NZ Cape Pigeons, Shy Mollymawks, Westland Petrels coming to chum


73-NZ Cape Pigeons, Shy Mollymawks, Westland Petrels coming to chum


74-NZ Cape Pigeons, Shy (Salvin's) Mollymawks, Westland Petrels coming to chum


75-NZ Royal Albatross estimated to be 40 yrs old and Westland Petrel coming to chum


76-NZ Royal Albatross estimated to be 40 yrs old and Westland Petrel coming to chum


78-NZ Cape Pigeons, Shy Mollymawks, Westland Petrels coming to chum


79-NZ Cape Pigeons, Shy Mollymawks, Westland Petrels coming to chum


80-NZ Royal Albatross estimated to be 40 yrs old, Black-browed Mollymawk (upper rt. corner), and Westland Petrel coming to chum


81-NZ Royal Albatross (in middle foreground reaching for chum) estimated to be 40 yrs old, Wandering Albatrosses, Shy Mollymawks, and Northern Giant Petrel coming to chum


82-NZ 40-yr Royal Albatross in center, Wandering Albatross, Shy (Salvin's) Mollymawk, and Northern Giant Petrel coming to chum


83-NZ Lunch on the braided Waimakariri River on way to Bealey


85-NZ Bealey Motel


86-NZ Bealey Motel overlooks braided Waimakariri River


87-NZ Bealey Lodge


88-NZ Statue of extinct Moa at Bealey Lodge


90-NZ Mt Rolleston near Arthur's Pass in Arthur's Pass NP


92-NZ Beech trees in Arthur's Pass NP


97-NZ Tussock grass and NZ Alps


99-NZ Endemic Kea near Arthur's Pass


104-NZ Endemic Kea near Arthur's Pass


106-NZ Bridge spanning river near Arthur's Pass


107-NZ Marsh and mountains near Arthur's Pass


120-NZ Waterfalls on way to Milford Sound


121-NZ Mountains on way to Milford Sound


124-NZ Wynston and Ross looking for elusive Rock Wren


125-NZ Birding group looking for elusive Rock Wren


129-NZ Boats in Milford Sound


130-NZ Milford Sound


136-Mitre Peak (Kakapo Reserve) in Milford Sound


133-Mile-high Bridal Falls in Milford Sound


138-NZ Tree ferns near Milford Sound


139-NZ Picnic lunch in Rock Wren habitat near Milford Sound


140-NZ Note beggar Kea at picnic!


141-NZ Kea begging


142-NZ Celmisia daisy spp near Milford Sound


144-NZ Mossy forest floor near Milford Sound


147-NZ Wetlands near Invercargill from the air


148-NZ Disembarking in Oban, Stewart Island, after 20-min flight from Invercargill


149-NZ Oban harbor, Halfmoon Bay, Stewart Island


151-NZ Brown Skua, Stewart Island


152-NZ Shy (White-capped) Mollymawk, Stewart Island


153-NZ Stewart Island Shag nesting colony


156-NZ Weka on Stewart Island


159-NZ Russ Widner sharing snacks with the Weka


160-NZ Russ Widner sharing snacks with the Weka


164-NZ Yellow-eyed Penguin at Hector Dolphin Bay


167-NZ Beautiful beach in Catlins


169-NZ Stewart Island Shag Colony near Dunedin


171-NZ Stewart Island Shag Colony and Royal Albatross Reserve and Nesting Preserve near Dunedin


172-NZ Taiaroa Head Light House near Dunedin


173-NZ King Soloman Airline (now Chathams Air) to the Chatham Islands


174-NZ Chatham Islands Guest House, Waitangi


175-NZ Chatham Islands Hotel, Waitangi


176-NZ Waitangi Harbor


178-NZ Rare endemic Chatham Island Oystercatchers


179-NZ Boarding lobsterman Link's Rock Lobster boat in Waitangi Harbor bound for Pitt Island


181-NZ Disembarking on Pitt Island


183-NZ Pitt Island Bird Preserve in foreground and overgrazed pasture in background


184-NZ Predator fencing around the Pitt Island Preserve


186-NZ View from Pitt Island of Pyramid Island, breeding grounds of the rare Chatham Island Shy Albatross


187-NZ View from Pitt Island of Southeast Island, the home of Old Blue, the Black Robin (1970-1983) who is the ancester of all the rare endemic Black Robins


188-NZ First Dawn Hill on Pitt Island, the site of the first dawn of the new Millenium


190-NZ Link and his Rock Lobster harvested while we toured the Pitt Island Preserve


192-NZ Link's Rock Lobsters harvested while we toured the Pitt Island Preserve


194-NZ Fishing trawler that we encounter while leaving Pitt Island


195-NZ Thousands of seabirds feeding off Pitt Island


199-NZ Thousands of seabirds, including ~1,000 White-chinned Petrels and 3,000 Buller's Mollymawks, feeding off Pitt Island


200-NZ Thousands of seabirds feeding off Pitt Island


201-NZ Buller's Mollymawk near trawler


204-NZ Old breeds of Chatham Island sheep


206-NZ Rare Pitt Island Shags on Chatham Island


208-NZ Rare ice plant on Chatham Island


211-NZ Ancient Moriori dendroglyphs on Kopi trees on Chatham Island


215-NZ Rare endemic Chatham Island Shags on Chatham Island


214-NZ Kay on Red Cliffs of Chatham Island with blow hole in background


222-NZ Kay Niyo and Ann Barker in America's Cup Harbor of Auckland


224-NZ New Zealand Land and Pelagic Tours, <www.rosssilcock.com>

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