Mum woke me up at the dreadfully early hour of 8:00am (for a Saturday) and interrupted my sleep-in bliss. Once I heard what she had to say, I was dressed, breakfasted and ready to go in 15 minutes! Finally, I was going to visit Whangamarino! Because whatever her plans were for the morning had been cancelled, she was free to drive me there! (Only 227 days, 16 hours, 6 minutes and 30 seconds until I can get my licence - not that I'm counting down or anything!).
As it turned out, we weren't going for a good hour yet, so I jumped onto the computer and found out as much as I could about the birdlife in Whangamarino from eBird. Once it was time to go, I was as keen as the proverbial mustard.
Turns out I didn't do as much research as I thought I had.
So, we got off to a good start on Oram Road searching for the Black Kite - an Aussie species of hawk that has been blown over to NZ - but missed it. However, as we drove past Pokeno, Mum spotted a Rook above the car, so that was the first 'lifer' of the day. We drove through Mangatawhiri looking for the rare Galah, (an introduced species of pink and white cockatoo found pretty much only in that area) but missed them, and so carried on down to Falls Road (after a little GPS drama).
So, during my eBird research I simply clicked on the first 'hotspot' I saw and decided to visit that one, but as luck would have it it wasn't amazing. Combine that with the fact that it was in the middle of the day, and you have a recipe for pretty much no birds. So, after about an hour we decided to move on, going further down the road. I spotted an old duck-shooting hide a few hundred metres from the road, down a steep hill. 45 minutes and 0 birds later, I emerged, utterly defeated. Whangamarino seemed to be determined to have the last laugh.
So, we turned around to cut across the wetlands via Island Block road, and I was resigned to missing out on any crakes. Deciding to try one last time, I stopped by a pond next to Coal Bucket Marsh. Almost instantly, I saw Black Swans, multiple shag species, LOTS of pooks and finally, FINALLY, heard the sewing-machine call of the Spotless Crake, thus bagging my second lifer of the day.
We got home and I examined my multitude of cuts and scrapes, and rested my weary legs. Only 2 new birds? Was it really worth it?