Saturday, 23 December 2017

Garden Visitor!

A nice garden visitor yesterday. He made it difficult to take a photo hidden behind the tree, mind you he probably wouldn't have noticed me, he was too busy tearing a Blackbird to bits!!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

The Last Leg - Hong Kong & River Dolphins!

Perhaps after 7 weeks away Hong Kong was a city too far! But nevertheless we made the most of our two nights there. Prior to leaving home I had booked a Dolphin watching trip for the morning of our only full day, we were quite excited about this one.

So an early start to get across to the pick up point for the trip, then a 30 minute drive from Kowloon to where we were to pick up the boat at Lantau Island. The first two hours or so out on the boat proved fruitless, with just a few birds seen;
A distant Pacific Reef Heron,
 Great Egret,
 Black Kite.

Chinese Pond Heron, Intermediate Egret, Chinese Egret, Tree Sparrow and Grey Heron were also seen. After tootling around for a long time the skipper asked if any of us were in a rush to get back, luckily everyone on the boat said no. Because about 15 minutes after that;

We saw at least two Dolphins, commonly called Pink Dolphins, they are actually (after looking it up!) classed as Chinese White Dolphins, to differentiate with the Amazon Pink Dolphin, apparently a different species. The local experts think that there are now only about 42 left, a few years ago the count was in the 70s.

I am not surprised, the rubbish/pollution in the water around Hong Kong is shocking, then mix that with the fact that the Dolphin territory runs into the very busy shipping lane to the south west of Hong Kong and that they have built the new Hong Kong - Macau bridge right across it as well (due to open early 2018) there demise seems inevitable.

I am glad and privileged to have had the opportunity to see them, and happy that a fair portion of the money that we paid for the trip goes to the conservation group trying to save them and who organise the trip as well.

So on to our next day. Our flight home wasn't until midnight, so we arranged an extension on our room so that we could check out at 6pm as we had booked a city tour for that morning. This was a general tour of the sights, Kowloon, Hong Kong and Victoria Peak. The trip took us out to Stanley Market, bought a few bits there and found a nice coffee shop, where we were suddenly inundated by bird song, thankfully I was carrying the big lens in my rucksack just in case!
These were all in one tree by the cafe, overlooking the sea, awesome!
Crested Myna,
 Oriental Magpie Robin,
 Black-collared Starling,
 Light-vented Bulbul,
 Red-whiskered Bulbul and
Spotted Dove (on the Cafe roof)

So there endeth our trip.

Absolutely knackered after it, but wouldn't have missed any of it!

Monday, 18 December 2017

New Zealand Part 6 - Dunedin and Albatross!

We left Milford Sound in the rain, and had another long drive to Dunedin. We have quickly realised that New Zealand is much bigger than you think!
Dunedin from Signal Hill.
Up at Signal Hill we saw Blackbird, Tui, and Bellbird.

The town was full of Red-billed Gulls
and Feral Pigeons of course. But the highlight for us and what we were really looking forward to was a wildlife trip out to the Otago Peninsula.

We started by going to see nesting Yellow-eyed Penguins and Little Penguins, with the added bonus of a vagrant  Erect-crested Penguin and Fjordland Penguin.
Erect-crested Penguin,
 Fjordland Penguin,
Yellow-eyed Penguin and
 Little Penguin.

As we were viewing the Yellow-eyed Penguin a visitor came in to the adjacent pond,
Royal Spoonbill,

although the local Paradise Shelduck with ducklings weren't too happy with its arrival and chased it off after a few minutes. The offending Shelduck!
We walked along to the beach after viewing the penguins, and had a nice view of some New Zealand Fur Seals

and a New Zealand Sea Lion down on the beach.

After the Penguin views we boarded a boat to take us out to see the coastal birds and wildlife. We soon spotted Pied Stilt (aka White-headed) flying around, but I didn't even try a record shot as the boat was pitching a bit and the light wasn't good, we had just had some rain and the skies hadn't cleared.

Anyway we soon saw the primary target for this trip,
Northern Royal Albatross

Just a few of the many photos I took!

There were lots of other brilliant birds about too, large numbers of different species of cormorant;
Bronze (or Otago or Stewart Island) Shag
  Spotted Shag,
 as well as Great Cormorant, Pied Cormorant and Little Pied Cormorant.
We had some great views of NZ Fur Seals,

 Lunchtime for the Pup!

Around the headland we came across the Spoonbill colony:

The Albatrosses were magnificent so I can't resist another photo....

Finally on cruise back to Dunedin, we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some Dusky Dolphins;

So that was New Zealand. We saw 71 species of bird while we were there, with our itinerary it was much more difficult to see birds and unlike Australia where we saw lots of birds in the cities, it wasn't the case here. However we did see some quality!

So time to wend our way home, via Christchurch and a two night stop in Hong Kong. So sorry one more post to do, before we end up back in Birmingham.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

New Zealand Part 5 - Milford Sound

Another long drive took us from Queenstown to Milford Sound. Sadly a bad weather day, lots of rain and low cloud, but that didn't spoil the scenery, in fact it added to it, especially in the mountains, there were waterfalls absolutely everywhere.

One of our stops was at a wetlands on the way, there were some NZ Scaup on the ponds, Swamp Harriers flying over the reed beds and this Bellbird in the bushes

 As I said lots of waterfalls,

 Another stop gave us a close up of a Kea
 it was still pouring of rain and the light was terrible,
 but the photos had to be taken!

So on into Milford Sound, our boat for the night..
 More fantastic waterfalls and scenery.

We saw a distant glimpse of Fjordland Penguin from the boat, some cormorant the following morning as we cruised out into the open sea, but otherwise with the very overcast and wet weather. Not much troubled the scoreboard.
So a few more scenic shots,
A cruise ship sailed into the sound and out again,
 one of the other boats on the sound,

 Heading into a waterfall!

Next stop Dunedin....