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  • Matt

Birding the Subantarctic to South Korea and everywhere in-between!

In November 2023 I headed away to lead my first of this season’s 21-day birding tour of NZ for Wrybill birding tours.  On the journey to start the tour I found three long-staying Australian Terns south of Miranda. A New Zealand tick for me and recent split from Gull-billed Terns. 

The tour itself was successful.  Highlights included seeing four species of Kiwi, finding Takahe with only minutes to spare before running to catch the ferry and two highly rewarding Hauraki Gulf pelagics.

On the North Island we had an awesome encounter with a flock of Wrybill that had a very relaxed Red-necked Stint in amongst them; found both migrant Cuckoos, Long-tailed and the smaller Shining Bronze; also NZ Falcon, Blue Ducks and Australian Bittern.

On the South Island we found King Shags and Orange-fronted Parakeet on our first day – not forgetting a pair of Hoary-headed Grebes with a chick.  Two awesome Kaikoura pelagics which are always a high point but this time included a sighting of the long staying Antarctic Fulmar.  This bird is a regular visitor in the winter months but less so into the summer.  In the mountains we got Okarito Kiwi, Fernbird, Kea and Rock Wren.  Stewart Island and Ulva Island are again a high point and this trip was no exception.  Good kiwi viewing in the evening and the Stewart Island pelagic rewarded us with Grey-backed Storm Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel, Westland Petrel, and 1 Short-tailed Shearwater in amongst the Sooty Shearwaters.

We finished the tour with two Black stilts in Mackenzie Country bringing our total to 147 species for the 21-day tour.

I had a couple of weeks at home before jumping on the Heritage Adventurer to guide on the “Birding Down Under” (BDU) for Heritage Expeditions.  This 18-day trip departs and returns to NZ’s South Island town of Bluff, with visits to The Snares, Auckland Islands, Macquarie Island, Campbell Island, Antipodes Islands, Bounty Island, and Chatham Islands.  I had visited all these islands, but not all on one trip!

Juvenile Leopard Seal at The Snares

The Snares is an incredible place - so much wildlife.  We saw the all black Snares Tomtit and the endemic gingery looking Snares Fernbird.  Four species of seal were seen: NZ Fur Seal, NZ Sea Lion, a juvenile Southern Elephant Seal (probably from Macquarie Island) and a young Leopard Seal visiting from the ice.  Of course, not forgetting the thousands of Snares-crested Penguins!

Yellow-eyed Penguins, Enderby Island

At Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands we were met by the welcoming committee of New Zealand Sealions on Sandy Bay.  Awesome looks at the rarest penguin in the world, the Yellow-eyed Penguin plus Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Auckland Island Shag, Auckland Island Flightless Teal, NZ Pipits and Banded Dotterel.  This dotterel which is longer legged and scruffy plumage should, in my humble opinion be regarded as a separate species from the Banded Dotterel on NZ’s mainland.  It was a damp but wonderful day on this very special island some of which was spent watching Southern Royal Albatross flying low overhead.

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross

The farthest south we could go was Australian-governed Macquarie Island.  We were met by thousands of King and Royal Penguins, heaps of Southern Elephant Seals along with Southern Brown Skuas, and Northern and Southern Giant Petrels.  With a bit of searching we saw Gentoo and Eastern Rockhopper Penguins plus a few endemic Macquarie Island Shags.

King Penguin chicks, Macquarie

After a couple days at Macquarie we sailed north back into New Zealand waters and spent the day at Campbell Island, which is a firm favourite of mine.  Southern Royal Albatross, Campbell Island Shag and Teal, Antarctic Terns, Sub-Antarctic Snipe were all encountered, plus very grumpy NZ Sea-lions.  A surprise find was the dozen or so Australian Shelducks flying around Perseverance Harbour!

Onwards to Antipodes Islands where we found Antipodes Parakeet and Reischek's Parakeet plus lots of Erect Crested Penguins and a few Eastern Rockhoppers.  Another pinniped was added to our list in the shape of a Subantarctic Fur Seal.

From the Antipodes we sailed northeast towards the remote and very rugged Bounty Islands, home to almost the whole world’s population of Salvin’s Albatross.  Also seen: the endemic Bounty Island Shag, Fulmar Prion, Cape Petrels and thousands of Erect Crested Penguins.

Our final group of islands was Chatham Islands, but first a stop at the world-famous Pyramid Rock (Tarakoikoia).  Rising out of the ocean, it looks like the lair of a Bond villain but is home to the stunning rare Chatham Island Albatross.  From here we went onto the main islands where we found Forbes Parakeet, Pitt and Chatham Island Shag – and two of the rarest waders in the world - the tiny Shore Plover and the mega Chatham Island Oystercatcher!  Land bird sightings included Chatham Island Warbler, the huge Chatham Island Pigeon … plus Emu!  This is the only place in New Zealand where Emu are seen as wild population.

Chatham Island Pigeon, Chathams

I spent Christmas and the new year at home and did some guiding at Ulva Island and kiwi spotting at night.  Mainly enjoying some down time and walking Nonu on some of the local beach and bush tracks.

2024 saw me begin the tenth year of guiding with Wrybill Birding Tours!  In January I flew north Auckland to start another 21-day birding tour. 

North Island highlights included re-finding one of the Australian Terns (seen on the November tour), Wrybill at close range, two very rare Fairy Terns, Blue Ducks, North Island Brown Kiwi and a very showy Morepork.  Two successful pelagics got NZ Storm-petrel, Black Petrel, Flesh-footed, Buller’s Shearwater and even a lone Black-winged Petrel onto our list. 

We had a magical “wader-fest” day in Hawkes Bay watching waders:

x63 Pied Stilt

x1Variable Oystercatcher

x4 Pacific Golden Plover

x6 Black-fronted Dotterel

x7 Spur-winged Plover

x51 Banded Dotterel

x1 New Zealand Dotterel

x1 Whimbrel

x53 Bar-tailed Godwit

x3 Marsh Sandpiper

x4 Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

x1 Pectoral Sandpiper.

Baillon's Crake

South Island highlights began with a roar - great looks at Orange-fronted Parakeet and a South Island Saddleback, plus forty King Shags.  An amazing encounter with a couple of Marsh Crakes also known as Baillon’s Crake. This normally super shy bird was walking around in the open alongside the reed bed. Needless to say a lot of photos were taken!  Kaikoura pelagics never disappoint - five species of Albatross (Wandering, Northern and Southern Royals, White-capped and Salvin’s). Hutton’s and Sooty Shearwater, Westland and Cape Petrel and the ever-noisy Northern Giant Petrel. 

Ironically Common Tern are not that common in New Zealand but thanks to the assistance of another Wrybill guide, Dave Thomas (aka DT), who had his scope set up at Ashley Estuary we saw Common tern sitting amongst White-fronted Terns.  As we were leaving I spotted a bonus bird, the long-staying mega - Black Stilt - among a flock of Pied Stilts.

Stewart Island is always a highlight of the 21-day Wrybill tour for its trifecta of avian delights: Ulva Island, Stewart Island Brown Kiwi, and a full day pelagic.

Predator-free Ulva Island is home to a lot of special birds including Yellowhead, South Saddleback, Brown Creeper, Rifleman, Red and Yellow Crowned Parakeet, Kaka, South Island Robin, NZ Pigeon and Weka.  We found all these amazing birds - plus a daytime roosting Morepork – and a handful of New Zealand Sea Lions charging around Sydney Cove!

Back at Stewart Island, after dinner we set out to find endemic icon, the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi (Tokoeka). We found at least three birds including a juvenile male bird that walked right up to us. 

The next day we had an epic full day Stewart Island pelagic: Yellow-eyed, Fiordland Crested and Little Blue Penguins; Southern Royal, Buller’s, Salvin’s and 100 White-capped Albatross; White-faced Storm-, Grey-backed Storm-, Northern Giant, Common Diving, Cape, Mottled and Cook’s Petrel; Buller’s, Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters; plus a host of shags, gulls, terns and Fairy Prions.

The final days of the tour were spent back on the South Island.  A private reserve we have permission to visit in Otago got us two more Yellow-eyed Penguins, and in Oamaru we ticked Otago Shags.  Close views of two Black Stilt in the stunning Mackenzie country allowed plenty of photo opportunities and we finished the tour with a healthy total of 146 species on the list.

I was home for a week before flying from Stewart Island to Auckland again to start a custom 16-day tour of New Zealand for Wrybill Birding Tours, this time leading nine Swedish birders around.

Spending our first morning north of Auckland we found two Fairy Terns feeding on the ebbing tide plus the bonus of a lone Little Egret which are not very common in New Zealand.  At a reserve protected by a predator-proof fence we found Whiteheads, North Island Robins, North Island Saddleback, NZ Pigeons and Buff-banded Rail.  After dinner we returned to the same location and spotted a pair of North Island Brown Kiwi and a lone Morepork.  It had been a long day for the group as they had arrived into New Zealand at 5am on this, our first day of the tour.

New Zealand Storm Petrel was our main target for the full day pelagic scheduled for the next day, which we ticked along with White-faced Storm Petrels; Fluttering, Flesh-footed and Buller’s Shearwater; Cook’s and Black Petrel; and Little Blue Penguin.

South Island Takahe and chick

It was not possible to overnight at Tiritiri Matangi but despite our reduced time there Brown Teal, Brown Quail, Red crowned Parakeets, Whiteheads, North Island Robin, North Island Saddlebacks, and Stichbirds all made it onto our list of most wanted and seen.  Trickier to find but also ticked was North Island Kokako which showed very well and an awesome display from South Island Takahe (three adults and a chick completely ignored us!).

At Miranda: Pied Stilts, South Island and Variable Oystercatchers, Pacific Golden Plovers, Masked Lapwings, Bar-tailed Godwits, Banded Dotterels, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Royal Spoonbills, a single Great White Egret, and of course our first Wrybill were added to our growing list.

Two showy Long-tailed Cuckoos flew around us at Pureora Forest.  Also Kaka, Yellow-crowned Parakeet, Rifleman, North Island Robin, Tomtit, and Fantail were seen.  A long but rewarding day finished off nicely with a pair of Blue Ducks sitting by the river.

Spotless Crake, Fernbird and NZ Pipit were added to our trip list the next day along with three Nankeen Night Herons in the trees surrounding a café.

On the South Island we got a bonus Australian Little Grebe, usually we would see this bird in the north of the North Island but this had not been possible because of a 21-day tour being condensed into 16 days.

At Queen Charlotte Sound our targets were King Shag and Orange-fronted Parakeet and both were successfully ticked.  The King Shag sitting amongst Spotted Shags; the parakeet tested our skills but finally the whole group saw this skulking super rare bird before we had to leave the small island and get back on the boat.  Also seen was an unusual Flesh-footed Shearwater with Fluttering Shearwaters and a small pod of Hectors Dolphins.

There are very few freshwater lakes in New Zealand where you can see grebes together, but later that day we did just that and ticked 3 species.  The rare to New Zealand Hoary-headed Grebe, a single New Zealand Dabchick and the larger Australian Great-crested Grebe.

At Kaikoura both pelagics were successful with seven species of Albatross: White-capped,

Northern and Southern Royals, Gibson’s Wandering, Black-browed, Campbell Island and Salvin’s. Four species of Shearwater: Buller’s, Flesh-footed, Short-tailed, and the local breeding Hutton’s Shearwater. Petrels: Northern and Southern Giant, White-chinned and Westland.

Making our further south we stopped briefly to see the Black Stilt at Ashley Estuary.  Stewart Island and Ulva Island were fantastic: two relaxed very showy Stewart Island Brown Kiwi in the evening and Ulva Island’s South Island Saddleback, Yellowhead, Brown creeper, South Island Robin, Kaka and Weka.

Back on the South Island as the tour was coming to a close we were watching Yellow-eyed Penguins in north Otago and noticed that one bird had a badly severed foot (possibly shark attack). I found Rosalie who is the resident warden and she and I went over the fence to try to recover the bird with the aim of getting it to Dunedin Wildlife Hospital.  As I picked up the bird it took its last breath.  It was so sad.  We think it was probably getting ready to moult, weighing in at 6.3kg.

With the death of one of the world’s rarest penguins still heavy on our minds, the last day of the tour was spent watching a pair of Black Stilts feeding on a muddy lake bank, adult and juvenile Baillon’s Crake were spotted, and a female New Zealand Falcon flew over the van chasing a Song Thrush!  The falcon was our final new bird for the tour, finishing the 16-day trip with 145 species.

I was home for around two weeks before packing my bags once again, this time for nearly two months away guiding with Heritage Expeditions on the Western Pacific Odyssey (WPO) followed by a cultural expedition exploring southern Japan and South Korea.

The WPO is almost a month at sea travelling from Auckland in New Zealand to Yokohama in Japan, making stops at Norfolk Island (an Australian territory), New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Micronesia (a new country for me as the Covid pandemic put paid to a previous attempt to visit), outer southern Japanese islands before disembarking at Yokohama in Japan.

Buff-banded Rail

We set sail from downtown Auckland at around 10pm and woke the next morning (still in New Zealand) at Great Barrier Island for a brief visit.  Then onto our final New Zealand birding destination at Urupukapuka Island in the Bay of Islands where Buff-banded Rail seemed plentiful. Our next stop was Norfolk Island, a former penial colony but now a popular tourist destination.  For us it provided the opportunity to see some special birds: the absolutely stunning Norfolk Island Robin with its outrageous red breast; the less showy Golden Whistler; Grey Fantails and Slender-billed White-eye; the shy endemic Norfolk Island Parakeet; and the stunning tiny White Tern.

White Tern, Norfolk Island

The weather was not the best for our two-day visit to New Caledonia but we managed to find all the birds and it remains one of my favourite places to visit and bird.  On the list: New Caledonia Grassbird, Kagu, Cloven-feathered Dove, New Caledonia Parakeet, Crow Honeyeater, New Caledonia Cuckooshrike and New Caledonia crow.  For me it was nice to see Yellow-bellied Fly Robin, Barred Honeyeater and New Caledonian Streaked Fantail once more.  On the harbour wall next to where the vessel was tied up was a very photogenic bonus in the shape of a Wandering Tattler.

Wandering Tattler at New Caledonia

Sailing north to the Solomon Islands with its amazing people and birdlife, we began in the south at Santa Ana, then to Makira, Guadalcanal, Honiara (the capital), Tetepare Island and Kolombangara. Way too many highlights to try and mention, but I did run back up the road to see my first ever Crested Cuckoo-Dove, and a stunning Silver-capped Fruit dove was also a new bird for me.  Good to see the strange looking Melanesian Megapode again. The huge Sanford’s Sea Eagle, the shy White-collared Monarch to name but a few...

Farther north still we found plenty of Red-footed, Brown and Masked Boobies, Bulwer’s Petrel, Tahiti Petrel and the much sought after Beck’s Petrel.

Micronesia was a new country for me and we arrived at Chuuk mooring alongside the wharf at Weno.  With a few free hours pre-lunch we walked the main street in search of as many endemic birds as possible and found: Purple-capped Fruit Dove, Caroline Islands Swiftlet, Micronesian Myzomela, Oceanic Flycatcher, Caroline Reed Warbler, Caroline Islands White-eye and lots of Micronesian Starling.  After lunch we spotted these same species again and added Oriental pratincole, and the sought-after Caroline Islands Ground Dove, Yellow Bittern and Pacific Golden Plover to the list.

The next morning, we travelled from the ship over 18km by zodiac to Toll South, made an outrageous climb up into the rain forest bush bashing with local guides for 2 hours each direction.  We were rewarded of the super rare Chuuk Monarch … and then drove the 18km by zodiac through reefs and atolls back to the ship.

We had few days at sea before entering Japanese waters, and spotted Matsudaira’s Storm-Petrel, Tristram’s and Leach’s Storm-petrel, and a bulky South-polar Skua heading north.

Our first stop in Japan was the stunning Chichi-jima Island in the Ogasawara Islands.  While we waited onboard for customs and immigration we birded from the deck, spotting Black Wood-Pigeon, Eastern Buzzard, Blue Rock-Thrush, Warbling White-eye and Brown-eared Bulbul.  After customs & immigration clearance, we explored the nearby bush paths and found Japanese Bush Warbler, Green Turtles and Ruddy Turnstones at the harbour.

The next afternoon we arrived at the uninhabited Japanese island of Tori-shima, home to the Short-tailed Albatross.  This stunning looking bird almost went extinct due to humans harvesting their feathers.  We circumnavigated this small volcanic island but due to strict marine controls we were not allowed too close however still got good looks at a couple of hundred Short-tailed Albatross, the more abundant Black-footed Albatross and a lone Laysan Albatross.

Miyake was our final stop before Yokohama.  While the vessel got into position we watched Streaked Shearwaters, Pelagic Cormorant, Japanese Cormorant and a couple of Black-tailed Gulls (our first gull species since New Caledonia).  Once ashore we drove to the local bird reserve.  A few new birds for me: Ijima Leaf Warbler, Izu Thrush, Izu Robin and a couple of Owston’s Tit. Great to re-encounter some familiar birds too: Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Bull-headed Shrike, and Oriental Greenfinch all of which I had seen on a previous visit to Japan.  We found a couple tiny Japanese Murrelet just before we set sail again - next stop Yokohama.

Very early the next morning the huge bustling landscape of Yokohama was peppered with a few gulls (Black-headed, Herring (Vega) and Slaty-backed) plus a lone Arctic Skua and a small flock of six Intermediate Egrets.  With the ship tied up at the harbour wall in downtown Yokohama, we ate our final breakfast together, passengers disembarked and headed to the airport or hotel for an extended stay, and myself and a couple of other guides headed into Tokyo city.

I headed to the Tokyo hotel I’d stayed at last year, and where I’d stay for the next 6 nights.  I was in bed by 5:30pm and woke at 6:30am the next morning!  After breakfast, I headed out to Kasai seaside park, which I’d also visited last year with a couple of mates who are also guides.  It’s an easy place to bird, located on the coast of Tokyo Bay, and has a small forest and freshwater lakes and ponds.  As with any Tokyo park, you are never alone and I birdwatched around joggers, cyclists, kids and dog walkers.  It didn’t stop me finding some cool birds though: Black-faced Spoonbills, Whimbrel, Dunlin, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Bar-tailed Godwits feeding on the ebbing tide.

On the freshwater lakes, Little grebes, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall Eurasian Teal, Little and Great Egrets, and in the Bush Dusky Thrushes, White-cheeked Starlings, Oriental Turtle Doves, Japanese Tit and Masked Buntings.

I visited this park a couple of times in the week and added new birds each time. Ruddy Turnstone, Eurasian and Far-Eastern Curlew, Terek Sandpiper and Black-necked Grebes from the shoreline, and in the bush I found Brown-eared Bulbul, Narcissus and Blue-and White Flycatchers.

At the Tokyo Bird Park, spotted on the treelined paths of a very small reserve surrounded by a large industrial estate were Warbling-white Eye and Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker. On the lake, Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Little Ringed Plovers, and common Snipe were found.  Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Common Pochard, Eurasian Wigeon and Eastern Spot-billed Duck swam around the lake as Black Kites circled above.

Blue-and-white Flycatcher at Karuizawa

From Tokyo I caught the bullet train northeast to Nagano.  Using this as a base I did a side trip on the train to Karuizawa and Karuizawa wild bird park.  A fantastic reserve set in native forest with a river running through it.  Birds new and old came thick and fast which made for a great morning’s birding – Japanese Woodpecker, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker and Great-spotted Woodpecker, Hawfinch, Asian Stubtail, and Ashy Minivet. Asian Brown, Blue-and-White Flycatchers, and the stunning Narcissus Flycatchers were a pleasure to witness.  Japanese, Coal, Long-tailed, Willow and Varied Tits seemed common.  I revisited this reserve the next day: Eastern-crowned Warbler I had seen before but Eurasian Nuthatch and Treecreeper were new to the Japan list along with a pair of Eurasian Goshawk. I also saw the introduced Red-billed Leiothrix aka Pekin Robin.

Snow Monkeys at Nagano

On my final morning in Nagano I caught the early bus up into the mountains.  For once birds were not the main target - today it was about the world-famous Japanese Macaques known as the Snow Monkeys.  They are the northernmost non-human primate and spend the winter months in these snow-covered mountains.  After the bus trip I continued on foot walking up into the hills and finding Siskin along the way.  I spent the morning in the company of these fascinating macaques - it was a real privilege to witness these amazing creatures up close.  Less amazing was witnessing the stupid human race, trying to take selfies and touching the Macaques - I do wonder sometimes if we are going backwards in evolution.

From Nagano it was back onto the bullet train to the coastal city of Kanazawa on the northern side of Honshu.  From here I jumped into a taxi out to Kemmin Kaihin Park which is situated right along the coast.  This bush covered park with small lakes and rivers and was a magnet for birds. It was one of my favourite days birding.  A few of the great birds I found are: Japanese Bush Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Japanese Leaf Warbler.  Pale, Eyebrowed and Brown-headed Thrushes. Daurian Redstart, Red-flanked Bluetail.  White-cheeked and Chestnut-cheeked Starlings. Narcissus Blue and White, and Asian Brown Flycatchers. Common Kingfisher and fly over Grey-headed Lapwings.  Meadow, Masked and Grey Buntings.  Hawfinch and Oriental Greenfinches to name but a few. One of the highlights was finding a pair of Japanese Thrushes - the male with is dark head and back and dalmatian speckled flanks.  This often-skulking bird was high on my must-see list.

That night I met up with Steve, John and Thijs who were working on the next voyage with me.  As we headed out for a meal that night I noticed a Peregrine Falcon flying over the city railway station - keep on birding!

The following morning we joined the Heritage Adventurer in Kanazawa harbour. This trip was a bit different for me as it was more of a cultural tour, rather than birds and wildlife. It was a ten-day tour around southern Japan and two days and nights exploring South Korea.

A lot of this tour would visit parks and gardens, so there was always going to be a little birding.  Onboard were at least three other birders who soon found me!

We visited many places that I probably would never have visited by myself, but it’s amazing how you can find birds. On our first full day we visited Shirakawa village we got Japanese Tit, three species of wagtail (Grey, Japanese and White), a showy pair of Bull-headed Shrike, and Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker.  As we crossed a bridge I thought to myself the river looked like a good place for dipper. On the way back I stopped and checked it out and boom!  A lifer in the shape of two Brown dippers chasing each other up down the river.

We spent two full days in South Korea, which was a new country for me.  At Taehwa River National Garden, we found the gorgeous Vinous-throated Parrotbill flicking through the long grass and weeds alongside the river, along with the loud Oriental Reed Warbler that I had also seen in Japan.  A toilet stop near a highway provided a quick birding opportunity and I found a pair of Light-vented Bulbuls!

Sailing back into Japanese waters we visited the sobering site of the first atomic bomb - Hiroshima.  I strolled around Hiroshima Peace Park looking across the Motoyasu River towards the A Dome/Genbaku Dome.  The place where on 6th August 1945 at 08:15am the first atomic bomb exploded.  This was the only structure left standing near the centre of the explosion and has been preserved to retain its post-bomb condition.  The skeletal remains are a powerful symbol of the most destructive force ever created by humans, but the dome and surrounding Peace Park also symbolise hope for permanent world peace.  My personal feeling is that 70 years later the human race has learnt nothing.

Docking at Osaka on 9th May we disembarked and I began my long journey home.  Bus to Osaka Airport; flights Osaka to Narita Tokyo; Tokyo to Auckland; Auckland to Christchurch; Christchurch to Invercargill; and my fifth and final flight Invercargill to Stewart Island.

Some facts and figures:

-       I left home on 19th March and returned home on 11th May

-       I had visited 6 countries

-       I had seen 252 species (including 23 lifers) on the WPO

-       I had travelled approximately 4760 Nautical Miles (8816km/5478miles) on the WPO

-       I saw 95 species using public transport during my solo time in Japan

-       Japan/South Korea trip I found 63 species

-       My Japanese life list rose to 164 species

-       My two-day South Korea list stands at 31 species!

As I picked up my bags from the Stewart Island flights van here in Oban I noticed a

Cattle Egret landing close by.  It’s not bird I would have chosen to be my first bird once back on the island!  That evening the sky put on an incredible Aurora show - we could see the green and purple glow with our naked eyes from the kitchen window.  Needless to say we went outside and took a few photos.

I gave myself a week off before jumping back into work, conducting a bird survey for SIRCET (the fourteenth year of counting native and endemic bird calls in the local forest for Stewart Island/Rakiura Community & Environment Trust).  I also got back into a bit of local guiding at Ulva Island and caught up with writing trip reports for my Wrybill Birding trips late 2023 and early 2024.

Jules is happy that the other half of Nonu’s dog walking team is home.  On one of our dog walks at 10 o’clock in the morning Nonu and I even found a pair of Kiwis fighting near the road.  The Cattle Egret list rose to four individuals seen together!

Well, thank you if you got made it to the end of my latest news!



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