Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

October 25, 2011

Birds of Central Otago and Mackenzie

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:12 pm

Mackenzie and Central Otago Birds.

Before I left for the Mackenzie region of New Zealand I filmed a few Canada Geese and New Zealand Scaups in the pond at the camping ground at Ashburton. Then I headed up the hills past Geraldine and stopped at a bridge going over the Opuha River. There was a New Zealand Kingfisher (Halycon sancta vagans) on the wires and a Welcome Swallow and Chaffinch sitting on some rocks in the river. At the Pioneer Park, a few kilometers down the road, I went for a short walk up the hill and saw lots of song birds that I could not identify and a a New Zealand Pigeon.

Canada Goose
Canada Goose ( Branta canadensis )

After that, I headed to Fairlie, past the gorgeously coloured Lake Tekapo to Twizel, where I had hoped to visit the Black Stilt hide. Black Stilts are an endemic wading bird with completely black plumage in their adult form and long red legs. They had neared extinction due to destruction of habitat and the introduction of feral predators. But chicks reared in captivity are released into the wild. Now Black Stilts numbers are increasing and extinction has been averted. I did not eventually go to the hide because of car trouble but I did see one fly past at the Ahuriri River.

Mackenzie and Central Otago Birds video

I camped that night on the banks of the Ahuriri River 3 kms north of Omarama. I managed to films some Canada Geese, and saw some terns in the distance fishing in the river. A Pied Oystercatcher was flipping the rocks on the river banks. Just before Cromwell, in Central Otago, I spotted a pair of California Quail (Lophortyx californica) at Bendigo on the banks of the lake formed by the Clyde dam. The male has a distinctive plume on top of his head.

I went for a day trip to Queenstown and there were quite a few Mallards who were being quite aggressive at times towards the endemic New Zealand Scaup, of which there were only two. New Zealand Scaup (Aytha novaeseelandiae) are found in mountain lakes and coastal ponds. The male has a bright yellow eye and a dark greenish head. The female is without the yellow eye and has a white face patch during breeding season.

There were also some Black-billed Gulls waiting for the tourists to throw them scraps of food and fighting amongst themselves for the tidbits. The Black-billed Gull (Larus bulleri) is usually seen inland and is common on the South Island of New Zealand. Immature birds have pink bills and legs so are difficult to distinguish from the Red-billed Gull. They nest in colonies, mainly on shingle river beds.

Mackenzie and central Otago bird list

New Zealand Scaup
Black-billed Gull
New Zealand Pigeon
Australian Magpie
New Zealand Fantail
Welcome Swallow
Black Stilt
New Zealand Kingfisher
Pied Oystercatcher
California Quail

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