New Zealand bird spotting: 0-10

Kia Ora! My first New Zealand post, in no particular order, will be all about birds! (I’m here for about 5 weeks doing all sorts, and will write more about what we get up to in other posts). I had a bit of a blogging break: largely due to not having a laptop and hating typing on my ipad. I have so many blog posts that I want to write, so they may end up coming a bit randomly…

I’ve really got into my bird spotting, starting with accidentally joining the RSPB back in Manchester. (I’m a sucker for getting caught in the street and agreeing to all sorts, I will talk about getting sucked into a pyramid scheme in another blog post.) My bf bought me an awesome pair of RSPB binoculars for my birthday which I have really enjoyed using, much to my suprise as I normally really struggle with focusing through binoculars.

So I want to document my New Zealand bird spotting – its super fun because not only are there LOADS of birds, they are also largely new to me and often brightly coloured, fun and interesting. I am also having fun playing with my camera (not really a photographer and i dont have anything flashy like a dslr but enjoy it all the same) so where possible I want to try and get my own photos of the birds! Havn’t managed it yet for all of them though so will have to do a photographic update of the ones I am missing another day (if I manage it.) Note, these are not in the order that I spotted them. Just random…

1. Housesparrow/Tiu

I have definitely seen lots of house sparrows…I may or maynot have seen hedgesparrows/dunnocks and will try and work out how to tell the differnece one day. Here is my own photograph of a housesparrow, taken on our afternoon trip to Arrowtown:

The housesparrow was introduced to New Zealand in the 1860s.

2. Blackbird

Again, pretty common, I’d say third most common after sparrows and chaffinchs from what I have seen, certainly of the birds you seen in urban areas. Here is my own photo of a male blackbird taken on our walk along the Dart River by Arrowtown. Introduced from Europe in the 1860s.

3. Tui

This is one of my favourites!!! It was one of my first spots on our walk around Mt Maunganui – looks like a shiny blackbird with a funny white sticking out bib stuck on its front. I didn’t have a bird book at this point so I had to google it, and it is so cool! It has two voice boxes so can make a huge range of sounds, there are videos on youtubes of Tuis in captivity mimicking human speech. We wake up to the sound of Tuis in our ‘batch’ in Queenstown – you can hear weird cough noises mixed into the bird song. Here are the only pictures I have managed to take of a Tui so far:

4. Silvereye/Tauhou

We started seeing these when we got to Queenstown, there are lots around our batch, and we see them all over the place now. The photos I took in Arrowtown and am quite pleased with. My book says they introduced themselves from Australia in 1856 and is now one of the most common birds in the county.

5. Black-backed gull/Karoro

These seem to be the least common gull here, from what we have seen so far anyway. Unlike in Jersey, the black-backed gulls don’t join in pestering the humans and squabbling over chips and other picnic remains, they prefer to stay aloof – you can almost hear them saying ‘WE are proper birds, so much better than that rabble…’

6. Black-billed gull/Tarapunga

Lots of these in Queenstown.

7. Mallard

These photos are of the mallards and black-billed gulls in the park in Queenstown on our last day. We were enjoying our lovely Fergburgers – Simon had a brie and vennison number and I had slow cooked pork, hashbrowns and mustard in a lovely burger-y mess. Deliscious. Anyway, the cheeky birds were eying us up, and to get a good photo I made the mistake of waving a chip in their direction. Mrs Mallard clearly moonlights as a ninja and the chip was gone from my grasp in milliseconds. Despite my attempts at chasing them off and flapping the bird book at them, now that Mrs Mallard knew what was at stake she decided to play the long game. Seeming to clear off she would circle us, coming in at which ever angle we were neglecting to flap at, inching her way slowly in until spotted, each time making it slightly closer the to gold. Eventually she worked out how close she could get before i chased her away and, sitting down, she settled in for the wait whilst making pleading eyes at me. I had almost given in and was reaching for a morsel to feed her, when with a battle cry of ‘DUUUUUUCKS’ some three year olds came charging towards her; they so thoroughly traumatised the bird population that no more was seen of Mrs Mallard.

8. Paradise shell ducks

These guys seem to almost always been seen in their complimenting pairs, this pair were photographed in Okarito where there are huge wetland deltas and unspoilt lagoons so is home to huge numbers of birds – we didnt see that many as you can’t see much of the area by foot and we didn’t really fancy going kayaking. We saw loads in Glenorchy and on the way to Paradise – there is some discussion as to whether Paradise is named after the ducks there are so many there, or whether it is named because it is so beautiful their.

9. Black Swans

We first started seeing these guys in Glenorchy – it was a case of spending ages looking at a couple on the other side of a lagoon with the binoculars and then walking slightly further down the path and turning round to see a pair with a cygnet right by the path! We then spotted another pair with a whole clutch of much smaller cygnets in the undergrowth later on, and have seen loads of them in lakes and ponds and lagoons etc from the car in our journeys around the country. Simon took the photos on his phone as sadly my camera ran out of batteries for our trip and the quality isn’t good enough to upload so I will get a nice photo for you for next post…

10. Southern island New Zealand Robins/Tomtits

We first spotted these guys in Paradise, and there was a sign saying they are a vulnerable species – I have to say though that we have seen loads on our walks!

T-T-T-T-Thats all folks!