Yesterday was special.
Out in the valley, there was some morning mist flowing down from Upper Hutt to create an ink-wash effect. The forecast, however was for mainly fine weather.
Mary and I had decided the previous day to visit “Zealandia” formerly known as the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. We followed the path down to the wetlands beside the lower dam, and were fortunate to see some net building in progress. A pair of pied shags have chosen a site in tree near the walkway to make their home for the season. While the male goes out to gather suitable construction materials, the female does all the weaving and construction. As the male arrives back on the water near the nest the female get excited and throws back her head and squawks. The male with the mouthful of twigs or weed emerges, dripping, from the water, scrambles up onto the nest and then stands on her back to hand over the precious cargo.
As on some previous occasions, as we went around the tracks, I began to think there was not much happening, and even in the “discovery area”, where I would normally hope for a great variety, a solitary bellbird made an appearance. It was a handsome specimen so I was pleased with that.
However, the further we went up the valley, the fewer people there were around us, and the louder the chorus of birdsong became. Tuis were everywhere. A few kaka (parrots) were making a lot of noise, but the real characters of the day were the North Island robin.
Everywhere we went they came close. It seems that as we walk, we stir up insects, and they are eager to cash in on the bounty. These tiny birds are very brave and at times were within inches of our shoes.
A brief appearance by a saddleback was another highlight. These handsome birds have a lovely patch of rust-red colour across their backs, and are among the few coloured birds in the new Zealand Bush. On the other hand, as the All Blacks demonstrated in Wellington on Saturday night, mastery of your craft is more effective than a gaudy colour scheme (sly grin).
On the way out of the park, we saw a few Tuatara, but for my purposes the little coloured beads added by the scientists for identification and tracking tends to spoil any images. It was a delight then to see a very tiny juvenile (about a fifth of its adult size) which has yet to be marked.
Tomorrow may be less picturesque, but let’s find out about that tomorrow.