A Wellington Big Day

So the day started at 5.00 am, getting breakfast [of sorts], dressed and finding my, mostly charged, camera. At 5.20 out of the house it was, down to the Island Bay coast, where nothing was showing, until a fishing boat arrived with a Salvin's Albatross following it in! Very nice addition to the list, followed by a Reef Heron flying off the rocks and a single Fluttering Shearwater (the only one of the day!).

From there it's straight to ZEALANDIA, at about 7.30 I was in there, picking up all the crucial bush birds (saddleback, stichbird etc, you know the like), as soon as I stepped in a paradise shellduck flew over, kaka called, and a pied shag swum in nearby - all good new birds adding to the day list. The first time walking through the inner sanctuary, birds such as the Takahe, Brown Teal, California Quail were a no show, so I decided to walk up quite a considerable hill to try to pick up those species. No luck, but walking back through I picked up all the previously mentioned species!

Straight from ZEALANDIA to Keith George Memorial Park, to pick up Whitehead, a species I missed at ZEALANDIA, 5 min in a flock of 6 popped up – it’s fantastic to see them flourishing in a park just off SH2. It’s easy to access, and totally worth it to pop in for a visit with a good number of whiteheads and apparently, tomtits (although I missed them) and great looking bush.

From Keith George, over the hill to Pauatahanui in Porirua it was, to pick up such birds as Grey TealPied Stilt, Song Thrush and others – nothing very exciting though, just to make up the numbers  
At the Plimmerton Fire Station right after that there were no terns at all, unfortunately so up to Waikanae it was.

At Waikanae it was a quick stop to the Waimanu lagoons, to pick up Little Black Shag, a species which was only seen once on the day, Canada Goose, and lots of little brown things. I expected I’d need to come back in the evening for low tide, so after about 30min it was straight up to Pharazyn reserve. 
At Pharazyn I picked up Feral Goose (surprisingly not at Waikane  ), NZ Dabchick, Pheasant and others that were around.
From Pharazyn it was to Peka Peka Beach, where I got Pukeko (I know! Only just getting pukeko) and Skylark.

Hopping back in the car it was time for Otaki Sewage Ponds, where I picked up absolutely nothing! Which was slightly depressing as I was almost certain I’d get Black-fronted Dotterel – so down to the Otaki Estuary where I got many Skylarks, which sound lovely but not getting me up the numbers I need. Finally, a male Banded Dotterel popped up singing on a little rock, a new bird *whew*.

After that I quickly headed over to the Waitohu Estuary where apparently Barbary dove are present though there were none that day. 
After dipping on Barbary dove, a panicked visit back to the Otaki Sewage Ponds to try desperately to pick up Black-fronted Dotts was necessary. After looking around with binos for about 15min I heard a rustling at my feet, looked down and just there, on the other side of the fence was a BFD!

After that small victory, back to Waikanae it was, with a quick check around the lagoons (no luck   ) I headed out onto the beachy bit, where after about 15min I located a sole Caspian Tern, a new species, pushing me ever closer to that target of over 60. Keeping on walking there wasn’t much really until I turned around, saw some large white birds flying, fist pumped and yelled “SPOONBILL!”: a new species!

Driving back up to SH1 and down again to cross the river (it takes a little while), it was straight to the Takahe Drive pond, where I picked up coot, about 7 of them, which I dipped on at Pharazyn.
This next spot was probably my most anticipated, the Otaihanga Boardwalk, a fantastic spot for Fernbird. Heading off to start the walk it was about 6.00, and arriving bang on time paid off – 4 Fernbirds! 2 birds popped just after the bridge, and were closely followed by another pair a bit further back. Such cute birds! 

Arriving home at 7.40ish, I tallied up my final score, 64! The new Wellington big day record!  
However, there were a couple of major dips on the day, i.e. Kingfisher! So there is a possibility of a higher total than that, next year!

 Fernbird @ Waikanae

Fernbird @ Waikanae

 Skylark @ Waikanae

Skylark @ Waikanae

 Whitehead @ Kieth George

Whitehead @ Kieth George