NEW ZEALAND 2001 ONE-MONTH BIRDING TRIP

 

Thursday, May 10, 2001. Week 5, Day 1. R&R or Shopping -- You Can Do Both.

The weather report says that the Northland, where we WERE headed, is going to get drenched with heavy rain and high winds, increasing during the day, and into the night. So we scuttle our plan to go back up to try to actually SEE a Northern Brown Kiwi at Trounson Forest.

Instead, we will take a day off to do whatever we feel like. Sharon will read and I will work on some photos and a report. Then we'll go down to where Syl works, and see if a Maori artist there will make us some Maori things. Then we'll go out for lunch with Syl, meeting Bill and Rachel also.

Syl has gone the opposite direction from where she works, for an appointment, and stops by to pick us up on her way back. Then the three of us go to where she works with disadvantaged youth from Hamilton. She introduces us to Peter Taratoa, a wonderful Maori bone and wood carver, and leader for the kids, in the workshop. They are currently making nose flutes out of bamboo, and Pete demonstrates one. It's fascinating. Then he shows us some work he has done, and Sharon specifies what she wants, based on his samples. In addition, I admire a Maori fighting stick, called a Taiaha, which I decide to buy.

Bill and Rachel arrive and we all walk through the wind and rain (Bill: "Rain? This ain't no rain!") to the local shopping center only about a block away. On the way past some flowers, Bill asks me, "Did I ever tell you how I have trained the bees to jump through the ring in my key chain?" I laugh, and we continue on over.

Everybody orders their choice for lunch. I go for two corn dogs and french fries. Is this the same guy who joined Weight Watchers? That's ok, I've been eating pretty sparingly mostly. Mostly.

Bill and Syl tell us two local jokes about accents.

In the first, during World War II, a New Zealand lad goes to England to join a fighting group, about to go off to war. A commanding officer sees that he's from New Zealand and decides to chat with him. "So, you came over and joined us to die?" New Zealand lad: "Actually no, I came heah yes-ta-dye."

The second one: What's the difference between a buffalo and a bison? Answer: You can't wash your face in a buffalo.

After a lunch photo, everybody splits. Syl goes back to work, Bill and Rach go back to the University and Sharon and I go shopping at another shopping center, just beyond this one.

I want to buy a book called Letters from the Battlefield -- a number of letters written in World War I before and during breaks in some of the terrible battles fought all over Europe and Africa. Many of the authors were killed shortly after their letters were written, although not all. I find the book in Whitcoll's, a New Zealand book store chain which is very good. Sharon also buys a couple of books. Then we hit the out-and-out tourist store, where we load up with more stuff. Then we walk back to Syl's.

There Pete demonstrates some Maori fighting stances and moves with what will be my new war stick. First he stands at what you might call ready , then with the stick in front of him. Next it's over his shoulder, and he gives his only smile of the series. Next I get a blurry photo of the "kill" move. Shudder. The Maori were serious. Even the feathers on the stick had a purpose -- distraction. They were twirled around as the stick was spun, before the fighting started. If your opponent looked at the feathers, that was enough of a distraction that you might strike first.

We go into the workshop again, and I get a kick out of the kids working there. Pete does a little work on one of the nose flutes Sharon has ordered, and I get a closeup of the work. That's a Dremel he's using.

I want to try my digital camera in the macro mode, and I take photos of a nose flute, a wonderful wooden comb and an ornate white comb, carved from bone, I think.

We finally finish up, and pay Pete, having gotten some cash from a cash machine in the shopping center. Then, Syl takes us home and finishes off her work day downstairs in the computer room. She does lots of digital photo and video work here.

Sharon proofreads a trip report in the dining table corner, upstairs on the living level, and I can't tell you how great it feels to listen to the rain on the tin roof, watch the rain through the corner windows, and be safe and comfortable. Ahhh.

Rachel and Syl go out for their Hebrew language class, and Bill orders pizza. The remaining three musketeers chomp down to our satisfaction, then Rachel and Syl get home and do the same. We watch West Wing, and it's the first time I've seen it. They talk so fast that you have to listen to every word. I could watch this show again.

You may recall that Bill and Frannie the Cat have trained each other to put up two stools and a hoop, then Frannie jumps back and forth 3 or 4 times, then Bill pets her vigorously and feeds her.

Well, as often happens in this house, at this time of year, with windows open, a praying mantis comes in. Now the usual fate of such a creature is that it becomes a snack for Frannie. But somehow, Frannie doesn't see the walking green stick. Bill says, "I'll train it to jump through a hoop." This takes no time at all. He holds his car key ring down in front of the mantis, and the mantis jumps through, then keeps on going. Amazing!

Sharon turns in and after working a bit more and getting off Report No. 11, I do too. One thing I discover is that I forgot to internet-ify one photo. Instead of 25k, it's 1.3 megabytes. Hope nobody tries to download that one from the website (the unevenly-broken-off finger statue). I'll fix it next time I'm at our website.

What a relaxing day and night! Especially compared with what we'd have gone through if we had gone north. Shudder.

No birding today.

Friday, May 11, 2001. Week 5, Day 2. Birding on Empty.

7:30 AM and we're loading up the motorhome. I know that we have bought such a volume of souvenirs and gifts that we need another suitcase. Bill loans us one that his brother-in-law loaned to him. That saves us from having to buy one. We get the motorhome mostly loaded, then have breakfast with Bill, Syl and Rachel. We are in no hurry whatsoever, but we get out of there about 8:30 so we have time to do all the stuff we want today.

What a great time we've had here at Bolstads. Thanks you guys, and sorry for all the butchered Maori language I (mis)used, Syl. I plead ignorance and some insanity.

11:01. We are at the Otorohonga Kiwi House, where we stopped in 1994. But, what's up here? There's no Giant Moa Statue, though I was sure there was. No, never, says a worker. There is a display of cards that say "welcome" in about 200 languages. I get photos of a Kokako, a Morepork, a Kingfisher and a Kea who is about as relaxed as can be, with its wing unfolded and pointing straight down, revealing all the great hidden colors of this bird.

We go through the other cages, displays and the aviary, noting some pale orange mushrooms growing on a limb. We see Scaup, Shoveler, Coots, Red-crowned Parakeets, Pied Stilts, and one Saddleback, who sings his "see saw see saw see saw" song.

We finish up here, and head off to the Waitomo Caves. We aren't going through any cave this time, but are looking for the shop where Sharon bought her walking stick. She recognizes it on the way in, but we go all the way to the car park anyway, turn around and come back. As we are driving in to where the old car park was, we note display shelves through an upstairs window, but a CLOSED sign resting against the lower level. We figure it's just a residence now, and that is confirmed by the couple who come out. Yes, they recall that the upstairs was used to sell things some time ago, but say that it's only used for weaving nowadays.

We ask if we can take a photo or two, and the man says to take a hundred if we want. We take a couple, including one of Sharon standing in the old entrance to the shop, holding her stick.

2:07 and we just finished lunch at now-defunct Midway Motors on the drive from Waitomo. We decide to go and try for the Nankeen Kestrel (an Australian bird), but when we get about 15 km out from where the small road leaves the main highway, I choose this moment to notice that the gas gauge is on empty. The big E. How did I do that? I have to drive back into town and fill up. And then, we decide it's too late to go look for this bird. We'll wait and get it in Australia when "Survivor" gets done with the country. And two years or so go by.

But we DID see a lifer Hedgehog in a ditch on our way in. I thought I grew up with hedgehogs in Missouri, but Sharon tells me there aren't any there, and in fact, that there aren't any in the U.S. What I thought were hedgehogs were actually woodchucks. I'm sure she's wrong, so if you know that she's wrong, send me an email. If you agree with her position, then mind your own business.

We drive towards Auckland to choose our last Holiday Park, passing a sign that says STOP THE PRISON. A little later another says, WETLAND BIRDS, NOT JAILBIRDS.

5:31 and we are in Monokau Central Holiday Park, about 12 km from the airport and about 10 km from where we will turn in the motorhome tomorrow, at Adventure Caravans.

We have showers, and "practice-pack" and Sharon goes to another meeting.

Saturday, May 12, 2001. Week 5, Day 3. The San Jose Migration.

Sharon calls Carrie, and arranges for a pickup. We should get in about 2:20 PM today, Saturday, after leaving here at 5:30 PM Saturday. Nice trick, huh? We pack and Sharon reads while I finish off another report.

Later, Sharon cleans up the motorhome as I empty the holding tanks. We ask for an extension from 10 AM, the normal leaving time for this Holiday Park, to 12:30 PM, and that's fine.

We have lunch, warming up last night's dinner in the microwave. Then it's off to Adventure Caravans to turn in our motorhome. We drive over and unload all our gear. I take a shot of Sharon with Arti (Attie), Cassandra and Cassandra's little girl. Then Arti drives us to the airport.

It's about 2 PM and we have gone through all the checkins. We'll read and nap till 5:00 boarding, and 5:30 takeoff. I get a shot of Sharon as exit-ation time nears. She earlier got a shot of me -- ever alert.

But at 4:50, they announce that when our plane was coming in from Brisbane, Australia, a bird struck the engine and they have to inspect it. If it's all OK, then they estimate that we may take off sometime after 9 PM. Holy moly. They give us restaurant coupons, but there's not much else anyone can do. So we have pizza, read, I sleep some more, and we wait.

We decide not to share the fact that we are birders with anyone. But I'm guessing we're the only ones who wonder, "What kind of bird?"

A little before 9:00, they announce that although the inspection is not finished, the inspectors say that for all practical purposes, things are ok. We can begin loading.

Sharon and I board early and go to seats 75D and E. This is the last row of the seats between the aisles, but I check, and thank you thank you thank you, the seats recline.

We make it to LA in 11 hours, I think, and are just about last through agriculture and customs. We round a corner to find approximately 300 people waiting in the line that Qantas has arranged for travelers to change their connecting flights (since we all missed our connections). I decide that we should skip this, just walk to the next building, and ask American to put us on the next plane.

We do this, and they've got us on a 6:20 PM flight. Thus, because we skipped that horrible line through having prior experience at this airport (and even though an American Airlines representative near the end of the 300-person-long line told us it would do no good, they would just send us back), we don't lose any more time. I call Carrie again, and she and Bob will pick us up at the San Jose airport about 7:30.

No more surprises. We take off without hitting any birds, land at San Jose, and Bob and Carrie are walking around the corner just as we are. Our luggage comes through ok, including my fighting stick, which (thanks to Syl's persuasion and assistance) I have loaded into a piece of PVC pipe. It's capped on one end, and a screw-on threaded piece is glued onto the other end, then an end cap screwed on. Then that is taped on securely. I wrote our address on the outside of the pipe.

We are driven home by the "Ross Chauffeur Company" in style.

And that, folks, is the story of New Zealand 2001. I hope you enjoyed it. G'Dye.

In the bird summary table below,

"Trip Bird Number" is the chronological order that the first bird of that species was encountered on the trip.
"Trip Lifer Number" is the chronological order that the first LIFE bird of that species was seen or heard, on the trip.
"Rpt" is the reference to the Trip Report Number that bird's encounter was first described.
"Location" and "Island" together tell the location that the first bird of that species was seen or heard during the trip.
I have also included my approximate "Difficulty" rating, where 1 = easy and 7 = very difficult.
An asterisk after a bird's name indicates that the bird is endemic (natural breeding range is New Zealand and nowhere else)
An 'S' after a bird's name means that photo was taken with the digital camera through our spotting Scope.
A 'D' after a bird's name means that the photo was taken with the Digital camera.
A 'V' after a bird's name means that the photo was taken off of our Video tape.

The New Zealand Trip Bird List. 104 Trip Birds, Including 78 Lifers.

Trip Bird Num. Bird Name (alphabetical order) Trip
Lifer
Num.
Date Diffi
culty
Rpt Location Island
76 Albatross, Royal* 53 mon apr 23 3 6 Marlboro Sound above South Island
40 Bellbird*   mon apr 16 2 3 Tiri Tiri Matangi North Island
101 Bittern, Australasian (heard) 75 wed may 9 6 13 Turangi, South Lake Taupo North Island
12 Blackbird   sun apr 15 1 2 Orewa Beach North Island
33 Chaffinch   sun apr 15 1 2 Rodney North Island
58 Coot, Australasian 40 sat apr 21 4 5 Wanganui North Island
103 Crake, Marsh 77 wed may 9 7 13 Lake Ngaroto North Island
104 Crake, Spotless 78 wed may 9 7 13 Lake Ngarato North Island
81 Creeper, Brown* 58 wed apr 25 3 7 Punakaiki South Island
102 Dabchick, New Zealand* S 76 wed may 9 5 13 Turangi, Lake Taupo North Island
27 Dotterel, Banded* 15 sun apr 15 3 2 Omaha Beach North Island
26 Dotterel, New Zealand* 14 sun apr 15 4 2 Omaha Beach North Island
55 Duck, Blue* 38 sat apr 21 7 5 Whakapapa North Island
77 Duck, Grey 54 tue apr 24 4 7 Murchison South Island
56 Dunnock   sat apr 21 4 5 National Park North Island
89 Falcon, New Zealand* 64 sat apr 28 6 9 Milford Sound Car Park South Island
85 Fantail, Black (different subsp)   thu apr 26 4 8 Knights Point South Island
14 Fantail, Pied D   sun apr 15 1 2 Orewa North Island
91 Fernbird* 66 mon apr 30 6 10 Invercargill South Island
49 Gannet, Australasian
D
33 wed apr 18 3 4 Muriwai Beach North Island
25 Godwit, Bar-tailed   sun apr 15 2 2 Omaha Beach North Island
98 Goose, Cape Barren S 72 mon may 7 6 12 St. Anne's Lagoon South Island
84 Grebe, Australasian Crested 61 thu apr 26 5 8 Lake Moreaki South Island
7 Greenfinch   sat apr 14 1 1 Orewa North Island
4 Gull, Red-billed D 2 sat apr 14 1 1 Auckland Airport North Island
2 Gull, Black-backed 1 sat apr 14 1 1 Auckland Airport North Island
64 Gull, Black-billed* 43 sun apr 22 3 6 Foxton Beach North Island
19 Harrier, Australasian 9 sun apr 15 1 2 west of Orewa North Island
28 Heron, White-faced D 16 sun apr 15 2 2 Rodney North Island
93 Heron, Reef 68 tue may 1 6 10 Halfmoon Bay Stewart Island
53 Heron, White 36 thu apr 19 5 4 Miranda North Island
54 Kaka (forest parrot)* V 37 fri apr 20 6 5 Pureora Forest North Island
83 Kea (alpine parrot)* D 60 thu apr 26 4 8 Fox Glacier South Island
23 Kingfisher D 12 sun apr 15 1 2 Omaha Beach North Island
47 Kiwi, Brown (heard)* 31 tue apr 17 4 3 Trounson Forest North Island
82 Kiwi, Great Spotted (heard)* 59 wed apr 25 5 7 Punakaiki South Island
69 Kiwi, Little Spotted (heard)* 48 sun apr 22 4 6 Wellington North Island
95 Kiwi, Stewart Island* V   wed may 2 6 10 Ocean Beach Stewart Island
43 Kokako* 29 mon apr 16 7 3 Tiri Tiri Matangi North Island
18 Magpie, Australian   sun apr 15 1 2 west of Orewa North Island
11 Mallard   sat apr 14 1 1 Orewa Beach North Island
92 Mollymawk, Buller's* 67 tue may 1 4 10 Halfmoon Bay Stewart Island
75 Mollymawk, Shy 52 mon apr 23 4 6 Cook Strait Cook Strait
48 Morepork (heard) 32 tue apr 17 4 3 Trounson Forest North Island
5 Myna, Common   sat apr 14 1 1 Auckland Airport North Island
10 Oystercatcher, Pied 5 sat apr 14 1 1 Orewa Beach North Island
9 Oystercatcher, Variable* 4 sat apr 14 1 1 Orewa Beach North Island
88 Parakeet, Yellow-crowned* D 63 fri apr 27 4 8 Haast Pass South Island
38 Parakeet, Red-crowned 25 mon apr 16 5 3 Tiri Tiri Matangi North Island
57 Peacock 39 sat apr 21 6 5 Upokongaro North Island
35 Penguin, Blue V 22 mon apr 16 4 3 Tiri Tiri Matangi North Island
96 Penguin, Yellow-eyed* S 70 thu may 3 5 11 Otago Peninsula South Island
80 Petrel, Westland * 57 tue apr 24 4 7 Cape Foulwind South Island
72 Petrel, Common Diving 50 mon apr 23 3 6 Cook Strait Cook Strait
70 Petrel, Northern Giant 49 mon apr 23 5 6 Wellington Harbor Wellington Harbor
100 Petrel, White-faced Storm- 74 tue may 8 4 13 Cook Strait Cook Strait
32 Pigeon, New Zealand* 20 sun apr 15 3 2 Rodney North Island
17 Pipit, New Zealand 8 sun apr 15 3 2 Orewa North Island
15 Plover, Spur-winged   sun apr 15 1 2 Orewa North Island
74 Prion, Fairy 51 mon apr 23 4 6 Cook Strait Cook Strait
87 Rifleman* 62 fri apr 27 6 8 Haast Pass South Island
41 Robin, NZ* D 27 mon apr 16 4 3 Tiri Tiri Matangi North Island
30 Rosella, Eastern 18 sun apr 15 4 2 Rodney North Island
37 Saddleback* 24 mon apr 16 6 3 Tiri Tiri Matangi North Island
67 Scaup, New Zealand* D 46 sun apr 22 3 6 Foxton Beach North Island
46 Shag, Black   tue apr 17 2 3 Donnellys Crossing North Island
13 Shag, Little 6 sun apr 15 2 2 Orewa Inlet North Island
61 Shag, Little Black 41 sat apr 21 3 5 Wanganui North Island
8 Shag, Pied 3 sat apr 14 1 1 Orewa Beach North Island
79 Shag, Spotted* 56 tue apr 24 3 7 Cape Foulwind South Island
94 Shag, Stewart Island* 69 wed may 2 4 10 Golden Bay Stewart Island
71 Shearwater, Buller's*   mon apr 23 3 6 Wellington Harbor Wellington Harbor
73 Shearwater, Sooty   mon apr 23 3 6 Cook Strait Cook Strait
16 Shelduck, Paradise* D 7 sun apr 15 1 2 Orewa North Island
99 Shelduck, Chestnut-breasted 73 mon may 7 6 12 Lake Elterwater South Island
6 Shelduck, Ruddy (Sharon only)   sat apr 14 6 1 Auckland North Island
68 Shoveler, Australasian D 47 sun apr 22 4 6 Gnu Manu North Island
21 Silvereye 10 sun apr 15 1 2 Warkworth North Island
51 Skylark   thu apr 19 2 4 Miranda North Island
1 Sparrow, House   sat apr 14 1 1 Auckland Airport North Island
62 Spoonbill, Royal 42 sat apr 21 4 5 Foxton Beach North Island
3 Starling   sat apr 14 1 1 Auckland Airport North Island
97 Stilt, Black* 71 sat may 5 7 12 Twizel South Island
24 Stilt, Pied 13 sun apr 15 3 2 Omaha Beach North Island
65 Stint, Red-necked 44 sun apr 22 6 6 Foxton Beach North Island
42 Stitchbird* 28 mon apr 16 6 3 Tiri Tiri Matangi North Island
29 Swallow, Welcome 17 sun apr 15 1 2 Rodney North Island
20 Swamphen, Purple   sun apr 15 2 2 west of Orewa North Island
59 Swan, Black D   sat apr 21 3 5 Wanganui North Island
60 Swan, Mute   sat apr 21 4 5 Wanganui North Island
36 Takahe* D 23 mon apr 16 5 3 Tiri Tiri Matangi North Island
66 Teal, Grey 45 sun apr 22 4 6 Foxton Beach North Island
90 Tern, Black-fronted* 65 sat apr 28 5 9 Milford Sound South Island
63 Tern, Little   sun apr 22 6 6 Foxton Beach North Island
50 Tern, White-fronted 34 wed apr 18 3 4 Muriwai Beach North Island
86 Thrush, Song   thu apr 26 3 8 Haast South Island
45 Tomtit* 30 tue apr 17 2 3 Waipoua Forest North Island
31 Tui* 19 sun apr 15 2 2 Rodney North Island
44 Turkey, Wild   tue apr 17 2 3 Brynderwyn North Island
22 Warbler, Grey* 11 sun apr 15 2 2 south of Warkworth North Island
78 Weka* D 55 tue apr 24 3 7 Cape Foulwind South Island
39 Whitehead* 26 mon apr 16 5 3 Tiri Tiri Matangi North Island
52 Wrybill* 35 thu apr 19 5 4 Miranda North Island
34 Yellowhammer 21 mon apr 16 3 3 Whangaparaoa North Island

After this table was compiled, I realized that I had left off Pukeko (Purple Swamphen), a common trip bird, and Caspian Tern, an uncommon trip bird. But I didn't feel like re-doing the table. So it's 106 trip birds instead of 104.


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