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Endangered Birds of Tiritiri Matangi

NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 16 February 2020 | Views [164]

North Island Kokako, bird of the day, Tiritiri Matangi

North Island Kokako, bird of the day, Tiritiri Matangi

FULLERS 360 FERRY LEFT THE DOCK AT 9:00 “en punto” for the 75-minute trip out to Tiritiri Matangi Island.  An hour and a quarter doesn’t seem long on dry land but when the ferry starts pitching and rolling, time seems to slow down.  Inveterate landlubbers, Connie and I shared a seasickness patch — we wanted to be in tip-top form for the island. 


                   You Don't Want to Miss the Boat!

Tongue-twisting Tiritiri Matangi is a magical, predator-free sanctuary but it wasn’t always so.  For the 150-years after it was sold to the crown the island was deforested and farmed.  Since 1984 hundreds of volunteers have planted a quarter million native trees and the forest has regenerated.  It has been “re-stocked” with native birds captured from around New Zealand and has become a paradise for birders.  The 220-hectare island is criss-crossed with hiking trails, some leading to secluded beaches, making it a great destination for non-birders, too.  


  Red-Crowned Parakeet





Ferries sail only on weekends leaving at 9AM and returning at 3:30.  The crew, staff and volunteers adamantly reminded us that anyone who missed the boat faced a costly $500 water-taxi ride or a very long swim.  Tiritiri Matangi boasts a large staff of volunteer guides who are committed to keeping the island predator free.  You must disinfect your footware before boarding the ship and keep all packs zipped to prevent hitch-hiking critters from coming ashore.  They also guide groups around, pointing out the various trees, insects and birds.  None of the groups seemed serious about birding so we soon left the group and went off on our own.






                                                    North Island Robin

While we didn’t see any of the little spotted kiwis — they are generally nocturnal — we did see and photograph a good number of the island’s birds.  Even though many of the birds sport identification bands, all of the birds on the island are wild.  Bellbirds and Tuis predominated and filled the air with their calls, while North Island Robins came in a close third.  


                     North Island Kokako

The sighting of the day was of the rare North Island Kokako, who casually appeared alongside the trail.  Although North Island Saddlebacks are now relatively abundant, we spent an inordinate amount of time getting a photo as he scrounged through the leaf litter, always managing to keep a twig or leaf between himself and the camera.  And we came a cropper with the Morepork Owl whom we later learned likes to hide among the palm fronds.  



        South Island Takahe

The return ferry to Auckland was just as long but much smoother than the trip out.  I didn’t notice anyone splashing behind us or frantically waving from shore, so I guess no one missed the boat.




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