Back to Zealandia again.
Yesterday was a very nice day on which the wind almost disappeared. Our morning plans were interrupted, so Mary and I went to Zealandia with the intention of having lunch there. The first environment you meet on passing through the gate is the lower dam, where there are several varieties of waterfowl. A significant colony of pied shags nest in two large trees on either side of the lake. For some reason, when they take off to the South, they seem to do a standard procedure turn and come back over the nearer shore line. I think this one is a juvenile bird.
A newcomer to the dam is the dabchick. As far as I am aware, this is a singleton, and as yet there are no signs of more. I continue to be entranced by the colour contrast between the dark plumage and the brilliant green of the nearby bush reflected in the lake.
At the top end of the lower dam, there was a family of New Zealand Scaup (Papango). I counted eight ducklings though they kept diving for food so it was hard to keep track. The behaviour of the male was at best, furtive, as if trying to dissociate himself from the consequences of his actions.
Leaving the lake, we followed the lower path and enjoyed the walk in the bush for its own sake. We could hear bird song all around, but in this part of the reserve the bush is so dense that the birds can stay hidden if they so choose. On a warm day with little wind the dappled light was a delight.
When we rejoined the main path, we saw several Kaka (Nestor meridionalis) , the lowland parrot. These birds are similar in size to a chicken and that beak looks as if it could inflict injury.
Up in the discovery area, where there are feeding stations, many Stitchbirds were fluttering in and out. I estimate there were perhaps twenty of them, occasionally augmented by the bellbird with its clear chiming note. Pure delight for me. I still have not regained my control over the use of the long lens in deep shade, but definite improvements are happening.
We carried on around the Round the Lake Track, as I had done with my visitors a few days earlier. To our great pleasure we were accompanied some of the way by a tiny North island Robin (Toutouwai). These birds are fearless and will advance towards you and sit on your boot in hope of catching the insects you disturb. This can be a problem with a big lens that won’t focus closer than 1.8 metres. I had to keep backing away.
My final picture of the day is of a less agile subject but one which is almost harder to find. The native New Zealand Greenhood orchid (Pterostylis australis) flowers in November to December. It is small (about 10 cm) and hides itself well among the various grasses on the bush floor.
That’s all for now.