Trip Report – TWITCHATHON 2003

Hawke’s Bay to Manawatu – 26-27 October 2003

“The Touring Wrybills” twitchathon team (me and Brent) had high hopes of a new record for the event until the planned pelagic out of Tolaga Bay was cancelled due weather. Undeterred, we started at 1225 Sunday at Ocean Beach Havelock North with a quick seawatch – 2 black-browed, 2 white-capped albatrosses and a giant petrel – continuing on through to Westshore Lagoon and Bayview we had tallied 56 species by 1530, with most common birds accounted for and a few extras like wrybill, sharp-tailed sand, spoonbill, spotted shag, Arctic skua and black-fronted dotterel thrown in.

Up past Lake Tutira to Boundary Stream, where we were treated to spectacular views of NI robin, tomtit and rifleman, and heard at least 2 morepork going nuts in broad daylight, along with long-tailed cuckoo.

A chance fernbird and a few NZ pipits on the way back to Bayview to try for marsh crake (failed!!), a bittern there as consolation and then blue penguin in Napier Port left us after 8 hours on 76 species.

Then through the darkness to Fielding for the night (just in time to watch England squeak past Samoa!!), and an early morning start at Pohangina for sulphur-crested cockatoo and Eastern rosella, Lake Omanu for grey duck, NZ dabchick and a really nice spotless crake, and a couple of hours pre-high tide at the Manawatu Estuary adding turnstone, pied oystercatcher, red knot and a bonus sanderling. At 1224 we found 8 Pacific golden plover to make a total of 86 species. Not sure yet if that will be a winning score, but it knocks spots off the previous best for no boats and islands.

An incredible 24 hrs of NZ birding – the only things we could have reasonably added were marsh crake and NZ falcon, and the presumed flesh-footed shearwater we saw off Bayview. Despite Brent’s protestations I refuse to count the “Red Junglefowl” that were, admittedly, a long way from any habitation – but that’s another story.