So who is this weirdo?
Hi! My name is Liam and I am a beginner birder living in Glen Massey. I first became interested in birds after a 6-month missions trip to Papua New Guinea in 2016, and my interest grew from there! I am now a member of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Young Birders New Zealand (OSNZ and YBNZ respectively ). So now, I'm starting this blog so I can share my birding adventures with anyone who will listen ☺.
Sunday, 20 August 2017
Peat bog slog
Thanks to our nation's wonderful education system, coupled with my own laziness, it has been a while since my last post, and indeed, a while since I've been birding at all. Instead of dealing with the withdrawal symptoms and moving on with my life, I made an impulsive decision last night to head south to Lake Ngaroto to see the migrant cattle egrets that make this lake their home during the winter months. This meant putting all exam study on hold, convincing my parents it was just a "study break", and bracing myself for a concentrated hit of that agonising torture so cleverly disguised as a public transport system. Despite these Herculean trials, I made it to McFalls Road, where the (very friendly, despite my previous rant) bus driver dropped me. I would be on foot from here.
I meandered uphill onto the fittingly named "Lake Road", scanning both sides of the road with my binoculars for a glimpse of the birds. A friend said that they were at a effluent pond on the other end of the road, so that was my first port of call. After a decent trudge, I arrived at the aforementioned poo pond, only to be filled with righteous indignation! These birds had moved! How dare they?
Now feeling quite affronted, I walked to the end of the road and again checked all the paddocks for the egrets, seeing skylarks, yellowhammers, stilts, swallows and plovers, but absolutely no Cattle Egrets. I trekked back to the other end of the road, STILL seeing no species of heron whatsoever, and gave up.
Nursing the deep wound of "dipping", I realised that my bus wouldn't arrive for another 3 hours, I wandered, fairly aimlessly, down State Highway 3 until my (allegedly) sharp eyes spotted a predator-proof fence. Curiosity aroused, I walked down the hill to take a look. Turns out it was Lake Serpentine, which was a predator proofed peat bog. Not only that, but it was free AND had a toilet. I was well and truly convinced and went in.
Considering the time of day, birdlife at the lake was good, with lots of fantails and grey warblers in the bush. The walking tracks were a little bit flooded, so my woefully inadequate trainers turned into sponges, but as I moved around the lake I started ticking off many an interesting bird. A new mallard family started off the walk, and plentiful introduced passerines bulked out my total. Chaffinches, dunnocks and silvereyes were all predictably numerous, as well as skylarks and swallows. A pair of rather irate Spotless Crakes were an unexpected bonus, and a lonely Grey Teal on the lake kept things interesting. I talked to a volunteer checking the tracking tunnels and she said that she has often seen bittern and fernbirds, but today was not my lucky day (as was becoming rapidly apparent!). She told me about the Wetland Trusts plan to reintroduce KIWI to the site, which will be exciting, and she is expecting the other wetland birds to grow in number once they begin breeding at the site.
I had a good 3 hours birding at the lake before I had to leave to wave down a bus (or so I thought...). I walked once more around the lake before heading off, crossing the road and waiting for the bus.
2:10 - No bus. Not entirely unexpected.
2:15 - Still no bus. I've told myself not to worry until 2:20.
2:20 - A definite lack of buses. Slightly concerned. It has also started raining.
2:30 - Now raining heavily. Thanks to a small tree I am getting only slightly saturated.
2:40 - Just saw the bus... going the WRONG WAY. Must have read the timetable wrong. Oh well, any minute now.
3:00 - I am now quite cold, and my trainers seem to have absorbed several times their weight.
3:15 - FINALLY A BUS.
Anyway, after about 80 minutes I dried myself off and typed up this post using the bus WiFi.
EDIT: Thanks to late buses and my own ineptitude, I didn't get home until 5.
That's birding for you.