New Public Transport Big Day

We weren't confident. It didn't seem possible. In fact, we hardly believed Russell had 58 species using only public transport! But there were no records for the North Island, so George and I struck out in an attempt to establish a North Island Public Transport Big Day Record, and walked out on 62 species!

We started at Zealandia at 8 o'clock, walking in knowing what to expect after an 'hour off' the day before. We got all the shags and all of the bush birds in the time we were there, as well as four duck species and just seven introduced bird species. The miss of the morning was bellbird which were nowhere to be found. Walking up the street to catch the #3, we added Rock Dove and Thrush, but Starling remained evasive. 

We bussed on down to the center of town where we caught the ferry over to Day's Bay. We added White-Fronted Tern, Fluttering Shearwater, Spotted Shag, Variable Oystercatcher and Little Penguin. The pier gave us Welcome Swallow, and #83 got us down to Nikau Street and Eastbourne. Here we added Green and Goldfinches, Banded Dotterel (two adult males and two juvies), two bellbirds (good for the area) and Starling.

From here we headed back over to the Hutt Estuary, which was a waste of time due to tides and mass of peoples. We got Black Swan and Spur-Winged Plovers though, and whilst these may not be vital species it means we can give more time to looking out for real rarities such as White-Faced Heron and Magpie.

Continuing on #83, we jumped off at Wellington Station and headed on to New World, where I collected a Potato-Top Pie and a bag of chips. Getting back to the focus of the day we jumped on the train (don't worry, no real jumping, more of a leisurely walk) and headed on for Plimmerton. We picked up White-Faced Heron on the way, but other than that all very quiet. 

We got to Plimmerton on 45, but harsh weather and mistimed tides resulted in very few birds. A quick scan of the gulls (the Laughing has taught us to never be too casual) brought up nothing interesting, surprisingly.

We re-boarded the train, now 30 minutes ahead of schedule and got Magpie, Pukeko and Harrier on our way to Waikanae. A mini heart-attack got us at Waikanae after we walked out of the gas station to collect supplies and saw a bus parked by the stop! We rushed over only to find that the driver was just early and waiting till it was time to go.

We arrived at the ponds near Waikanae and immediately the birds began to roll in. We had two geese species and shoveler immediately after disembarking the bus, and it just kept going! We added Grey Teal, Skylark, Caspian Tern, Pied Stilt, and Albatross sp. from the spit and surrounds, and a real highlight was a Black-Billed Gull which is uncommon in the area. There were also two voc chicks, but dogs ran through them and freaked out the parents  . Fortunately the dogs followed the adult birds who were in flight over the the water which was a little chilly for their liking!

We walked along the boardwalk in an effort to break Russell's record of 58, and we were on 57! Pheasant brought us level, and the Fernbird blew us over! What a way to crack a record - at least 6 Fernbird and some giving good views. It was great to see, but we weren't done yet, so we carried on!

Coot and Dabchick on the Takahe Street ponds got us up to 61 at 6:15, and as we'd missed the bus, tried for crake at Manly Street. We had no luck, but managed to catch this one! We were happy to see Sharon at Paraparaumu Station and she gave us directions to a Yellowhammer spot. However, with the next train quite a fair way after our 7 minute away one we decided that it was best not to risk it!

On the way home we got Spoonbill feeding at Pautahanui and ended on 62! As we'd broken the record, we decided to end it there and request a lift home, rather than a 26 minute wait for the bus. We did, however, marvel at the Starlings going to roost in the CBD before our driver arrived and were reminded of documentaries of similar spectacles in Rome. However, no Falcons showed up  .


Set off (Michael at left, George at right).

Set off (Michael at left, George at right).