OK, enough blather. Here are my top three:
3. Pureora Forest Park - 11 birds
I've only birded here once, because it is a really long way from my house, but it was great. The park itself is massive, and one of the only places in the Waikato where you can see blue ducks (whio), yellow-crowned parakeets (kakariki), long-tailed cuckoos, and riflemen. The one time I did go there, I missed out on the whio, but saw riflemen, LTCs, kaka, and the usual bush birds. So why is my life list for this place so small? We went at the worst possible time, early afternoon. I can only imagine what it would be like at dawn, and hope to go camping there some day so I can see kokako and whio.
2. Maungatautari Ecological Island - 27 birds
This is a great place for bush birds, especially kaka, tomtits, North Island robins, North Island saddlebacks, stitchbirds and whiteheads. Because it is fenced with a pest-proof fence, many rare species are kept here, like Takahe (only available on a tour of the wetland), North Island Brown Kiwi, and Stitchbirds. Maungatautari has excellent walking tracks, and is an ideal place to take the family. Bring a jacket, however, because it can be really cold in the shade.
|Tomtit at Maungatautari|
1. Miranda Shorebird Centre - 48 birds (!)
According to eBird, this is the best spot in New Zealand to see birds, with over 100 birds found there. In the summer, many Arctic migrants are found, including thousands of Bar-tailed Godwits, Red Knots, various sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, both oystercatchers, etc. This is an excellent place to stay, offering very basic accommodation at very agreeable prices. I was very fortunate in seeing a very rare Fairy Tern, of which there are only about 40 of in New Zealand! During the winter, you may see the rare White Heron, along with Royal Spoonbills. Oh, and a lot of White-faced Herons. Definitely go to Miranda, although if you are an NZ birder you would have been there countless times already, and don't need my advice 😀. Also, remember to check the wetlands and mangroves for Banded Rails, bitterns and Grey Teal.
I am always on the lookout for new spots, so if you know of any, please post them in the comments below.