Motutapu Island, Auckland

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:52 am

Motutapu Island, Auckland

Postby Nakilad » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:39 pm

Kia ora koutou,
Just spent four days camping at Home Bay on Motutapu Island over the long weekend. Such a beautiful location to relax away from the crowds . . . and get some epic birding done. The long walk from Rangitoto wharf wasn't very productive, it was hot enough that I think the terrestrial birds were in the cooler, mature forest in the interior. Just a few shags and VOCs.

The time on Motutapu was the highlight though. Most of the European species were super abundant. Plenty of yellowhammers, skylarks, chaffinches, greenfinches, house sparrows, blackbirds and thrushes in the paddocks, along the tracks and at the fringes of the vegetation. There were also welcome swallows, fantails and grey warblers in good numbers, and a couple of pipits.

But, naturally, the rare endemics and natives were an absolute highlight. Kakariki seemed to be constantly flying between mature trees at the back of the campsite and the pohutukawa on the cliffs. There were only three takahe close to the campsite, but we saw them every day although they were pretty cautious. Can't wait for the day when they're all over the island. There were plenty of brown quails, including quailettes (yeah I made that up), in the regenerating bush. I also came across a few ruru on a night walk. No kiwi though, didn't even hear any. And plenty of pateke in the ponds, and three beach pateke. I understand many of them are mallard hybrids unfortunately.

But peak birding part 1 was seeing a family of 3 turuturu/shore plovers (lifer!) on Sandy Bay. An adult and juvenile (I assume) hung out at the south end of the beach, and the other adult spent a couple of hours working it's way north, feeding, turned around and worked it's way south, feeding, then came back up the beach, feeding. Such a rush to see not just one of these rare shorebirds, but a family. The whole time we were on the beach there was a workup 300 m out. At one point there was an arctic skua (another lifer) harassing the WF terns for an easy feed.

Peak birding part 2 happened on the last day in the bush behind the camp. While watching a brown quail work its way through the leaf litter I saw a spotless crake following behind. On the return walk I saw it scurry from the track back into the bush to a damp muddy patch. While watching it feed another 2 appeared at the mud! 3 puweto in one spot!

Great location, would go again.
Posts: 579
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: Motutapu Island, Auckland

Postby Jim_j » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:21 pm

Thanks for posting - I'll add it to my to-do list...


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