MG 5039

The Union Mine track

On a hot afternoon a few days back I went in search of wildlife at Zealandia. Each visit I tend to make up the route I walk, tending to target areas where I’ve seen interesting animals in the past. Recently this has meant walking the path linking the Union Mine track and the Beech track keeping an eye out for the falcons. I was walking this in reverse and had seen some people below pointing into the trees and managed to spot one of the falcons perched on a branch. Walking on I reached the spot where I had seen the people and they were still there and I was asked “Did you see the young falcon?”. The guy was quite enthusiastic and rather incredulous when I said no. He pointed up the track behind me and said “It’s just there!” so I turned to look. The youngster was on a branch at about head hight, no more than a meter from the track. I must have had a blind moment.

MG 5039Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Perched track side.

I spent the next half hour taking photos and video. The falcon was initially behaving strangely, hoping down to the dead tree fern foliage on the bank and seemingly looking for something. Turns out that it was foraging for a dead chick that must have fallen amongst the foliage, maybe the falcon had dropped it earlier? Once the chick was found the falcon picked it up and flew across the track to a fallen pine log and proceeded to feed.

MG 5152Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Feeding time.

MG 5171Photo by Brendon & Keryn


MG 5179-2Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Keeping an eye on the audience.

Eventually the falcon flew off and later on I it flying with one of its parents over the valley. Further flights had the falcons accompanied by a rag-tag flock of minder birds, tuis and sparrows keeping an eye out and warning others that the hunters were around.

I’ve also always been looking to see any young tuatara and until last week had no success. I had been on the Union Mine track looking for tuatara and had a short chat with one of the Zealandia guides. He showed me a few locations where tuatara could be seen outside the research area and also told me where a baby tuatara had been seen recently. Heading down to fence marker 114 I had a look down and there was a little tuatara, about the size of a gecko. Getting decent photos proved difficult, but I persevered and managed a number of decent shots.

MG 5477Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The small tuatara.

MG 4868Photo by Brendon & Keryn

In some sun on the 13th. You can see grey parietal (or third) eye on top of its head if you look at the larger photos on flickr here

I had a last encounter with a family of quail on the Union Mine track. The parents kept an eye on me from the fence while the youngsters did their best to fly up as well. The wind was blowing and the male looked quite strange with his feathers being blown around.

MG 5412Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Father in the breeze

MG 5352Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Contemplating the jump

It has been a good summer so far for wildlife viewing at Zealandia, who knows what I’ll see next time.

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One thought on “The Union Mine track

  1. Wonderful images. I’ve been keen to visit Zealandia and reading this has just made me keener. Going to have to come to Wellington for a couple of days.

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