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 ☺.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Invisible falcons

The clock is ticking on my freedom - only a few weeks left before I start uni. Shoshanah and I decided to make the most of it - we drove south to the very edge of the Waikato region, to Mapara Scenic Reserve. This is a known hotspot for North Island Kokako, but due to our sluggishness we missed the dawn by an hour and a half, so we didn't rate our chances. Our objective was to pick up two lifers for Shoshanah - the Yellow-crowned Parakeet, and the New Zealand Falcon. While these might not be particularly uncommon birds NZ-wide, they were both a long way from us and so a special trip was required.

After a slightly-tense ten minutes of Google Maps not working and us not being able to find the reserve, we parked my birding machine and walked over the mossy swing bridge. The lack of artificial noise was more than compensated for by the chorus of Whiteheads, Tomtits and North Island Robins, as well as about four Long-tailed Cuckoos - just getting ready for their migration to the tropics. We trekked up the hill, straining our ears for the thin, reedy screech of a falcon or the machine-gun chatter of a parakeet. What greeted us, however, were the tear-jerking, mournfully beautiful strains of a Kokako's song! This was a lifer for Shosh, and a new bird for my year list, so we were over the moon. We also had some really close encounters with a few Tomtits and Robins - a handsome male tomtit was only two metres from my face! No falcons or kakariki though, so we moved on to the breathtaking Pureora Forest Park. 

Venturing off the beaten track, the gravel road to Pureora Forest Lodge was almost too much for my little nana car to manage. Almost. Creepily, we didn't see a soul amongst the many tents and SUV's - but we told ourselves that they must all be out on the same hike. We walked the Waipapa Loop Walk, a nice gentle path through some scrub, second growth, and mighty tawa and rimu forest. We had barely gone twenty steps before we heard the chatter of a Yellow-Crowned Parakeet - we watched a pair duck and dive over our heads and disappear into the undergrowth. Seconds later, an unexpected Fernbird clicked nearby - we got so close to this indescribably cute 'swamp sparrow'. Kereru flapped clumsily overhead, and we had a flock of Kaka pass through the canopy - but no falcon. As we headed back to the ghost campsite, we reminded ourselves that the single dip on falcon was more than offset by our massive successes elsewhere - but a challenge has been set. See you next time, Mr Karearea.