IMG 1282

It was raining lightly

Another day between shifts and even though the weather was inclement I decided I’d go for a walk. I chose once more to head to Zealandia. On my last visit to Zealandia I had encountered a number of saddleback (tieke) and got some photos, and I was itching to get better shots.

Arriving it was immediately noticeable that change was underway. For months the new visitors centre has been a hive of activity and now the old visitor centre was gone, a few wooden steps to nowhere the only sign that there was a building. A temporary room was now in place as the visitor arrival centre, just past a temporary toilet block. It all looks terrible, but presumably means that the impressive new building is close to opening.

Once I was signed in I headed up the valley, stopping off to check on the tuatara and pointing out some to some passing tourists. I looked for the tuatara I had seen last time underneath the giant log at the Tui Terrace lawn but it wasn’t too be found; probably hiding or no longer there having been moved on by the staff. I watched kaka feeding and then kept walking towards the dam.

IMG 1282Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A kaka feeding

I saw some saddleback from a distance as I approached the next kaka feeders, they and lots of other birds flying around distant trees. Continuing I walked up to the dam and across to the other side where I turned to take the round the lake track. It was on this track that I had seen the saddleback close up on my last visit, so I figured I’d try it again. This was a good call.

IMG 1315Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A whitehead (popokatea) taking a (very) brief stop

I saw saddleback in a different spot to last time but was rewarded with five birds moving through the bush around me. There were at least two youngsters being fed by their parents, half heartedly doing their own search for food between bouts of feeding. Some other walkers passing through scared the saddlebacks off for a while. I sat still and waited and was rewarded with another visitor, a stitchbird (hihi) flying over my head and watching me from an adjacent bush, staying long enough for me to get a couple of photos.

IMG 1480Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Watching the saddleback

IMG 1504Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A youngster getting closer (I presume its a youngster from the lack of wattles)

IMG 1551Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The curious stitchbird

I stayed for a half hour or so slowly moving around while the birds did a good job of ignoring me as they hopped in the undergrowth pecking at rotting wood and decaying leaves in the search of food. I only moved on because I knew I would be cutting it fine getting to the gate before closing time. While watching the stitchbird I was also visited by a few robins (toutouwai), careful flitting close by on the lookout for any insects revealed by my movements. Some of the robins were only young themselves, not yet tagged to help with identification.

IMG 1517Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A hopeful robin

I had one more saddleback encounter. I heard a distinctive call and stopped on the track and scanned the trees. I soon saw the saddleback and took a few shots. The camera was set to take a burst of shots and I think the saddleback became curious as it flew straight towards me, coming closer with each burst of shots. I gratefully took the chance to get some nice portraits.

IMG 1629Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Coming to the noise

IMG 1645Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Coming in close

After that encounter it was quick march to get to the exit on time. Another successful visit.

On a completely different note, we just had another earthquake! Always good to jolt you awake in the wee hours ;) This was a 5 on the scale and was quite the noticeable jolt, though very short. More here on the GeoNet New Zealand website.

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