By Justin Jansen, Blitterswijckseweg 3, 5871 CD Broekhuizenvorst, the Netherlands
I spent between 28th April to 3rd May 1998 in New Zealand and from 2nd to 7th May I spent some time at Oahu, Hawaii. This after 6 months in Australia. The trip was low-budget, I was very tired and as a result I only did a small amount of bird, particularly in Hawaii. The most important bird areas I visited and a brief description of these spots follows.
I visited areas north-west of Auckland (Muriwai beach), south-east of Auckland (Miranda), Rotorua and a site north of Lake Taupo (Pureora State Forest).
This site is north west of Auckland, and is roughly 35 minutes of driving from the northerly outskirts of Auckland. Take the North-western Motorway and State Highway 16; following the signs to Helensville, after few miles you get the turn-off to Muriwai. Get on this road and continue until you get to the beach. Park your car, get up the rock, and you have there good viewing platforms and from here you see the gannets and further offshore around the rock loads of shearwaters breed.
Miranda Shorebird Center
Miranda is situated in the south-western corner of the Firth of Thames. It's about one hour southwest of Auckland. Take Highway 1 out of Auckland, and take the turn-off at Pokeno to Hamilton (and I think Miranda is also sign posted). You can't reach the spot by public transport.
Miranda is a well-known estuary for shorebirds. Up to 40,000 birds can be recorded here in the right season. The New Zealand summer is the right period and November to March are real good months. Up to 2,500 Wrybills can be found as well as Red-breasted Dotterel, Black-billed Gull and Double-banded Plover. The shorebirds are hard to find while roosting, but when you get to the hide when the tide is falling good numbers you can find. I just missed a Red-necked Phalarope and a Pectoral Sandpiper as extreme New Zealand rarities, to give the potential of the spot! Also regularly Grey-tailed Tattler and Terek sandpiper are wintering here.
There is an information center, and you can stay here overnight. I stayed here and I really enjoyed it. To contact the center RD 1, Pokeno, South Auckland, New Zealand Phone (64) 9 232 2781 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org and all the extra info you can find on http://www.miranda-shorebird.org.nz/
Wrybills and Oystercatchers are around from late January to July/August, the rest of the year they breed elsewhere in New Zealand.
The main reason to head for Rotorua and surroundings are the birds are easy to find here. For example New Zealand Grebe, New Zealand Scaup are very easy here and guaranteed. And if you can't get on Little Barrier Island this is the easiest spot to find Saddleback and Stitchbird (I found both in less than a minute upon entering the island).
The island in the middle of Lake Rotorua named Mokoai Island is easily reachable with the Scatcat that departs from the pier and goes several times a day. The Saddleback present on the island were transported from Tiritiri Mantangi (in 1992), the Stichbird transported from Hauturu (Little Barrier Island) in 1994 and the North Island Robin (New Zealand Robin) transported from the nearby Mamuku Ranges.
I spent a short time here trying to find some seabirds. Only Australian Gannets passed by. The gulls however were nice to see. Kelp, Red-billed and Black-billed Gull were easy.
This site is situated on the eastern half of the Northern island. About 45 minutes from Miranda. I drove from Miranda to here and from Waihi Beach to Rotorua and en route some breathtaking landscapes were seen.
Pureora State Forest
The park is located in the eastern King Country in a square formed by Te Kuiti in the northwest, Tokoroa in the northeast, Taumarunui in the southwest and Turangi in the southeast. Because of its good location between north-south State Highways 3 and 4 in the west and State Highway 1 in the east it is easily accessible for those prepared to make a short diversion. Access to the park itself is possible from State Highway 30 and otherwise from secondary roads from State Highway 32 (east), 41 (south) and 4 (west).
This park is a real 'must' and the variety of species is excellent. I recorded, near the buried Forest and the tower, the best species including Kokako, Whitehead, Rifleman (still one of the nicest birds I have ever seen in my life), White-eye, Yellow-crowned Parakeet, Gray Gergone, Kaka, Bellbird and New Zealand Pigeon.
To get to this spot turn-off left before the information center (Pureora Field Center) and get to the Bismarck Road and park your car at the car park (over here I recorded the Brown Kiwi, Morepork (5 calling birds) and Kokako). And take the short trail to the tower.
I birded two spots, one in the center of Waikiki at the garden of Hilton Hotel. White Terns breed here and showed themselves well around this spot. The other spot is at the Halona Blowhole. To reach this spot take the bus from the center to Koko Head.
For New Zealand I used: Heather B & Robertson H, 1997. The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Oxford.
For Hawaii I used: Pratt D H, 1996. Hawaii's Beautiful Birds. Mutual Publishing.
Pratt D H, 1996. Enjoying Birds in Hawaii. Mutual Publishing.
28 April 1998
Arrived at 24:30 hours in Auckland. From the airport I took a cab straight into the center of Auckland (22 kms) in search of a Backpackers Hostel. Found one and went straight to bed.
29 April 1998
First priority in the morning was arranging a hire car. After getting the car packed headed to Miranda in search of Wrybill!
After a drive of an hour I arrived at Miranda and walked directly to the hide. I observed here and on my way to this spot the following species: Swamp Harrier (a few birds hunting in the field on the way to Miranda and at Miranda), Purple Gallinule (at various spots along the road, even in the center of little villages), Welcome Swallow (various birds), Red-billed Gull (common at various spots), Black-billed Gull (at Miranda a single bird amongst the Red-billed Gulls), Kelp Gull (Miranda), White-fronted Tern (Miranda a few), Caspian Tern (a few at Miranda), White-faced Heron (some birds at Miranda), White-headed Stilt (a few around), Little Pied Cormorant (some birds around), South Island pied Oystercatcher (various birds at Miranda), Variable Oystercatcher (mixed in with the oystercatchers), Lesser Knot (100's), Bar-tailed Godwit (100's), Mallard, Skylark (while driving and at Miranda), Goldfinch (while driving), Common Myna (while driving), European Starling (while driving), Australian Magpie (while driving), Yellowhammer (some around most at Miranda), Greenfinch (while driving), Redpoll (while driving), House Sparrow (while driving), Dunnock (while driving), New Zealand Pipit (a few birds near the hide at Miranda), Song Trush (while driving), Blackbird (while driving), Red-necked Stint (several birds at Miranda), Wrybill (1,500), Red-breasted Dotterel (10 birds at Miranda), Double-banded Plover (5 birds at Miranda), Masked Lapwing (while driving), Grey Teal (a few seen), Australian Shoveler, Pacific Black Duck , Little Black Cormorant & Pied Cormorant.
From here I drove to the east to Waihi Beach for some sea watching, but only a few Australian Gannets. Also at the parking spot here several Kelp Gulls, Black & Red-billed Gulls. And from here I drove to Rotorua. After checking in at a Youth hostel I did some birding in the forest adjacent to Rotorua and found Rifleman, Common Coot, Red Jungle fowl, Peacock, Grey Fantail and Tui.
At Lake Rotorua I recorded New Zealand Scaup and New Zealand Grebe. This is New Zealand in the middle of the beautiful forest! Went to bed early after a beer (Heineken).
30 April 1998
Drove in the very early morning from the hostel in Rotorua to Pureora State Forest. I left the hotel at 2:30 am and arrived at the parking spot near the tower at 5 am. Some Moreporks were calling and for 5 minutes a Brown Kiwi started calling. I had a short sleep and by first light a male Kokako started singing (at 6:30 am), soon White-eyes and other birds started to get active. A climb up the tower produced a very nice sighting of a pair of Rifleman and some New Zealand Pigeons. Other birds recorded here (between the parking and the tower) where: Tomtit, New Zealand Robin, Kaka (4), Tui, Yellow-crowned Parakeet (small flock), Gray Fantail, Grey Gerygone, Whitehead and Bellbird. On my way back about 300 meters south of the parking spot I found another singing Kokako (after a tip from a warden). I missed out on an New Zealand Falcon hanging around the visitors center.
After a while I headed for lake Rotorua to take the boat to Mokoai Island to twitch Saddleback and Stitchbird and possibly Weka. The first two were very easy and seen in minutes but the last one I sadly missed. Also few New Zealand Robins here. After the trip I also recorded New Zealand Scaup, Red & Black-billed Gull, New Zealand Grebe, Paradise Shelduck and Grey Teal. After this short visit I went back to Miranda.
Over here in the Information Centre I asked for a spot for Fernbird and Australian Bittern and booked a room for the night. The warden drew a map (but sadly I lost the map) and I headed for the spot, after 2 hours I finally located a single Fernbird and missed out on Australian Bittern. Also I recorded a few Buff-banded Rails here.
I spent the night at the bunkhouse at Miranda.
1 May 1998
Woke up early at Miranda (saw the sunrise). I drove to the coast at Waiuku to do some sea watching. An hour's seawtching produced some Fluttering and Buller's Shearwaters, Kelp Gulls and a close Gray Petrel. After this sea-watch I decided to get into the harbor from Auckland to find Spotted Shag, and I soon succeeded in finding a few birds. So I went quick to the coast at Muriwai, to find the famous gannet colony and saw there many gannets at close distant and far off shore thousands of shearwaters and Black-fronted Terns.
I returned my car to the rental company and checked in at the same Youth hostel. And went to bed early.
2 May 1998
Woke up early and walked through the center of Auckland. A relaxing flight to Honolulu on Oahu at Hawaii. Searched and found a backpackers hostel near the Hilton Hotel in Waikiki.
3 May 1998
A morning walk through Waikiki produced a nice Wandering Tattler on the beach, some very nice White Terns and some Brown- and Red-legged Boobies passing over the sea.
4 May 1998
Went out for an hours seawatch at the Blowhole (took the cheap bus to there). Thousands of birds passed by. Amongst the thousands of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters I picked out some Christmas Shearwaters and amongst the thousands of Sooty Terns I picked out 50+ Grey-backed Terns. Also seen here were a few White Terns passing by and one was chased by a Great Frigatebird. Also Red-tailed Tropicbird, Black Noddy and Brown Noddy passed by.
5 to 7 May 1998
Some common introduced birds seen and some boobies and White Terns. On the 7th departed to Holland again via Los Angeles and Frankfurt.
Bird List: New Zealand
Birds marked with * were escaped birds! 27 endemics were seen and 29 new species. I missed only Australian Bittern, Weka, New Zealand Falcon and Long-tailed Cuckoo.
1. Brown Kiwi Apteryx australis mantelli (a single bird heard clearly, but not seen on 30th April)
2. New Zealand Grebe Poliocephalus poliocephalus (a few birds seen on Lake Rotorua 29th April)
3. Buller's Shearwater Puffinus bulleri (severals tens during a seawatch south of Auckland on 1st May)
4. Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia (several hundreds seen from Murwai Beach and south of Auckland on 1st May)
5. Gray Petrel Procellaria cinerea (a single bird seen well south of Auckland during a seawatch on 1st May)
6. Australian Gannet Morus serrator (seen common at Muruwai Beach where a small colony is on 1st May)
7. Great Cormorant Phalocrocorax carbo noveahollandiae (seen at several sites during my stay)
8. Pied Shag Phalocrocorax varius varius
9. Little Black Cormorant Phalocrocorax sulcirostris
10. Little Pied Cormorant Phalocrocorax melanoleucos brevirostris
11. Spotted Shag Phalocrocorax punctatus punctatus (seen on 1st May in the harbour from Auckland)
12. White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae novaehollanidae (several seen)
13. Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra sacra
· Black Swan (seen at several sites)
14. *Feral Goose (common)
15. Paradise Shelduck Tadorna variegata (seen at Miranda on two dates)
16. Grey Teal Anas gracilis
17. Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa superciliosa
18. Australian Shoveler Anas rhynchotis variegata
· Mallard (seen in various colour forms)
19. New Zealand Scaup Aythya novaeseelandiae (common on Lake Rotorua 29th April)
20. Swamp Harrier Circus approximans (seen daily in small numbers)
· Pheasant (common)
· Peafowl (some seen)
21. Banded Rail Gallirallus phillippensis assimiliis (few seen at Miranda on 29th April)
22. Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus (many seen, most in little villages)
23. Australian Coot Fulicata atra australis (seen at various sites)
24. South Island Oystercatcher Haematopus finschi (a few birds at Miranda)
25. Variable Oystercatcher Hameatopus unicolor (at Miranda a few birds)
26. Masked Plover Vanellus miles novaehollaniae (some birds during driving)
27. White-headed Stilt Himatopus novaezelandiae (several birds seen at various sites, most birds at Miranda)
28. Double-banded Plover Charadrius bicinctus bicinctus (about 5 seen at Miranda)
29. Red-breasted Dotterel Charadrius obscurus aquilonius (about 20 seen at Miranda)
30. Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva (only a few seen at Miranda)
31. Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola (10's seen at Miranda)
32. Lesser Knot Calidris canutus rogersi (100's at Miranda)
33. Wrybill Anarhynchus frontalis (1,500 seen in one flock at Miranda)
34. Turnstone Areneria interpres interpres (single birds at Miranda)
35. Sanderling Calidris alba (a few birds along various beaches)
36. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos (a single bird at Miranda)
37. Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis (100's at Miranda)
38. Bar-tailed Godwitt Limosa lapponica baueri (100's at Miranda)
39. Kelp Gull Larus domicanus (seen at various spots)
40. Red-billed Gull Larus scopulinus (common throughout)
41. Black-billed Gull Larus bulleri (seen at Miranda, Rotorua and Waihi Beach)
42. Caspian Tern Sterna caspia (several seen at Miranda and at other spots)
43. Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica macrotarsa
44. White-fronted Tern Sterna striata striata (only recorded at Miranda)
45. Black-fronted Tern Sterna albostriata (seen at Muriwai Beach)
46. New Zealand Pigeon Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae novaeseelandiae (a few birds at Pureora State Forest on 30th April)
· Feral Pigeon (in cities and villages)
47. New Zealand Kaka Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis (4 birds seen well at the parking spot at Pureora State Forest on 30th April)
48. Yellow-crowned Parakeet Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae (a small flock briefly perched at the parking spot on 30th April at Pureora)
49. Morepork Ninox novaeseelandiae (about 5 calling birds on 30th April at Pureora)
50. Sacred Kingfisher Tordirhamphus sanctus vagan (a few during driving outside Auckland)
51. Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxema neoxena (at various sites)
52. Rifleman Acanthisitta chloris granti (seen at Rotorua and Pureora)
53. Silvereye Zosterops lateralis lateralis (seen at Pureora)
54. Gray Gerygone Gerygone igata (single bird seen at Pureora)
· Blackbird (few seen)
· Song Trush
· Skylark (common at Miranda)
55. New Zealand Pipit Anthus novaeseelandiae reicheki (common at Miranda on several dates)
56. Fernbird Megalurus punctatus vealeae (a single bird near a swamp south of Miranda on 30th April)
57. Whitehead Mohoua albicilla (a few birds seen well at Pureora State Forest on 30th April)
58. Gray Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa placabilis (around Rotorua and at Pureora State Forest recorded)
59. Tomtit Petroica macrocephala toitoi (a few seen at Pureoa State forest on 30th April)
60. New Zealand Robin Petroica australis longipes (recorded on the island in Lake Rotorua and at Pureora State Forest on 29th & 30th April)
61. Kokako Callaeas cinerea wilsoni (recorded two singing birds - one seen well near the burned tower in Pureora State Forest on 30th April)
62. Tui Prosthemadera novaseelanidae novaseelandiae (recorded around Rotorua and at Pureora State Forest on 29 & 30 April)
63. Stitchbird Notiomystis cincta hautura (2 males seen on the island in Lake Rotorua)
64. New Zealand Bellbird Anthornis melanura dumerilii
65. Saddleback Creadion carunculatus
· House Sparrow (a few seen)
· Redpoll (probably lesser)
· Yellowhammer (a few groups seen, most at Miranda)
· Common Myna
· Australian Magpie (a few seen on the drive from Auckland to Miranda and visa versa)
Bird List: Hawaii
1. Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus (1000's on 5th May)
2. Christmas Shearwater Puffinus nativiatis (10's between the wedge-tailed's on 5th May)
3. Red-tailed Tropicbird Phaeton rubricauda melanorhynchos (1 bird on 5th May)
4. Red-legged Booby Sula sula rubripes (up to 10 a day)
5. Brown Booby Sula leucogaster brewsteri
6. Great Frigatebird Fregata minor palmerstoni (2 birds on 5th May)
7. Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva (a few birds at the island)
8. Wandering Tattler Heterosceles incanus (a single bird on 3rd May)
9. Grey-backed Tern Sterna lunata (50+ amongst the 1000's of Sooty terns on 5th May)
10. Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata oahuensis (1000's on 5th May)
11. Brown Noddy Anous stolidus pileatus (10's on 5th May)
12. Black Noddy Anous minutus melanogenys (a few on 5th May)
13. White Tern Gygis alba alba (up to 15 a day)
Also introduced species: Spotted Dove, Rock Dove, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Common Myna, Japanese White-eye, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, House Sparrow, Java Sparrow, Orange-cheecked Waxbill.