Over the weekend me and my 10 year old son Zef completed a 24hr Whangarei District big day to see if we could break the Northland region record. We tied it in with one of my summer late afternoon pelagic trips on Saturday and then carried on through a chunk of the next day.
We kicked off at 5pm way out the back of the Poor Knights Islands when a Pycrofts Petrel, a Gray-faced Petrel and a Flesh-footed Shearwater all showed up at once. We added a bunch of other seabirds after that (tho a couple less than hoped for due to the super calm conditions on the ocean) as well as a few land birds on the PK Islands. When we got back to shore in Tutukaka at approx 10.30 we added Morepork, as well as Little Blue Penguin which we heard calling from a nearby nesting area. By the time we got to bed at midnight for a quick sleep we were on 25 species.
We were back up at 4am to head into a local bush and wetland area in Ngunguru where we saw the butt of a NI Brown Kiwi scurry into undergrowth and heard another calling nearby, as well as hearing numerous Banded Rails, a Spotless Crake and several Fernbirds. As the sun rose we headed to the local shorebirds feeding area for the usuals including a lone Whimbrel. A quick visit to the local poo ponds gathered a bunch of waterfowl, bush birds and most of the common urban bird species.
After cleaning up in the Ngunguru area we were on 64 species – we then headed into Whangarei and a bit south to the Marsden Point/ Ruakaka areas to visit various species specific locations we had scoped out earlier. Then by early afternoon we arrived at the Waipu Wildlife refuge where we picked Fairy Tern, more shorebirds and a Reef Heron which graciously dropped in just as we arrived.
For the end of the day we took a big detour out to Whangarei Heads and after a blistering hot walk up the bream head track we thought we were going to miss our last 2 hoped for species. After half and hour looking we had all but given up when right on cue, 10 minutes before 5pm, a Whitehead flew in calling into the trees above, and a NI Robin dropped right down on the ground in front of our feet. An awesome way to finish an excellent 24 hour adventure.
We ended up with a new Northland Region record of 88 birds in total, all based within the Whangarei District itself. Me and Zef had done a lot of pre-planning for the day and explored a great range of locations over the last couple of months which has been a great way to learn what’s around our local area. On the day we found nearly all the birds we’d expected to find apart from the ol Shining Cuckoo. Me and Zef are both stoked with the result.
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Awesome day out Scott. Well done and I'm sure Zef had a blast.
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I only ever see the butt of NI Brown Kiwi in the undergrowth. Congrats! I'm hoping to get out on another Tutukaka pelagic soon. Cheers.