Welcome to Birdquest
Friday 22nd October - Sunday 14th November 2010
New Zealand is one of most popular destinations in the world, thanks to a combination of factors: a host of endemics, terrific seabirds, fabulous scenery, good accommodations and food, empty roads and, for non-birders at least, it is the ‘spiritual home’ of The Lord of the Rings. The long drives between locations all seemed worthwhile as we tracked down some of the rarest and most endangered birds on the planet, whilst taking in some of the finest landscapes that one could wish for.
A total of 148 species included all four endemic families (kiwis, New Zealand wrens, wattlebirds and the family newly created for the Stitchbird), no fewer than 69 regional endemics and an impressive 29 species of tubenoses (including eight species of albatrosses, seven shearwaters, three pterodromas, three Procellaria petrels and two storm petrels). There were many highlights on the tour: all the endemic landbirds bar one (Kakapo is off-limits to tourists); some amazing pelagics; all five species of kiwi (everyone saw at least 4 species), superlative encounters with Yellow-eyed and Fiordland Crested Penguins, great views of two New Zealand Storm Petrels, two sightings of Blue Duck, several New Zealand Falcons, two pure Black Stilts, exceedingly close encounters with fearless Keas, and incomparable views of a pair of Rock Wrens. Other good species included Chatham Island Albatross, Antarctic Fulmar, King Shag, Australasian Bittern, Brown Teal, New Zealand Dotterel, Wrybill, Antarctic and Fairy Terns, Long-tailed Cuckoo, the bizarre Kokako and both forms of Saddleback. One of the notable features of New Zealand’s endemic birds is their tameness and most species were seen extraordinarily well. On the mammal front, we saw four species of dolphin, including the diminutive Hector’s Dolphin.