I write this from my cramped aeroplane seat, dreaming of the birds that might have been.
After many months of eager anticipation, the day had come. My family, girlfriend and I were off to the gorgeous Cook Islands for a whole week! Alongside the swimming, hiking and general touristing, we had been busy drooling over Rarotonga's unique birdlife. Upon our arrival at the airport, however, we were met with an unwelcome surprise - our flight had been cancelled! Fortunately, Jetstar put us up in one of the flashest hotels I'd ever stayed in (not saying much!) and we were due to fly out the next day. As soon as I had finished coming to terms with our truncated holiday, I begun to plan. Our luxurious accommodation was only twenty minutes walk from Mangere Wastewater Treatment Plant - a real hotspot for the area, and offering some tempting year-listers. And so the next morning, our bellies full from the breakfast buffet (courtesy of Uncle Jetstar), we waddled to Puketutu Island and the surrounding canals and ponds.
It was a hot morning spent birding, mostly quite pleasant but punctuated by the periodic wafts of raw sewage. Birders are weird. Despite running out of time to sift through wader flocks, the canal yielded a single Brown Teal and a female Scaup, along with some nice Grey Duck and Royal Spoonbills. We wound up on around 40 species for the day, not bad considering that we only had time for the ponds!
After we had trudged back to the hotel, we headed (back) to the airport and took off - for real this time!
|A Little Pied Shag keeping its distance|
|A pretty pure Grey Duck next to a Mallard|
|A Brown Teal between two Mallards|
|A nervous Variable Oystercatcher|