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Chlidonias' 2011 year-list of stuff and things (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
First day of the year. I have to work of course but there's always time for birds before and after! On the way to the bus stop I saw:

1) Red-billed gull Larus novaehollandiae
2) Common starling Sturnus vulgaris
3) Black-backed (kelp) gull Larus dominicanus
4) House sparrow Passer domesticus
5) European blackbird Turdus merula
6) Welcome swallow Hirundo neoxena
7) Little pied shag Phalacrocorax melanoleucos
8) Australian magpie Gymnorhina tibicen

(well, half of them are native!)

Before work I stopped off at Hagley Park in the centre of town to see if I could find a little owl at the semi-regular spot, and sure enough I did and he put on a very nice show for me which was nice. A quick walk through the Botanic Gardens added a few more species, and finally there were feral pigeons in Cathedral Square.

9) Song thrush Turdus philomelos
10) Little owl Athene noctua
11) Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
12) NZ scaup Aythya novaeseelandiae
13) Hedge sparrow (dunnock) Accentor modularis
14) European greenfinch Carduelis chloris
15) NZ pigeon Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae
16) Feral pigeon Columba livia

Once work was done and dusted I headed off to the sewage ponds (or the Bromley Oxidation Ponds if you want to be pedantic) and the Bexley Wetland nearby:

17) Paradise duck Tadorna variegata
18) European goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
19) Pukeko (purple gallinule) Porphyrio porphyrio
20) Canada goose Branta canadensis
21) Grey teal Anas gracilis
22) Common coot Fulica atra
23) Caspian tern Sterna caspia
24) NZ pied (white-headed) stilt Himantopus leucocephalus
25) Spur-winged (masked) plover Vanellus miles
26) Black swan Cygnus atratus
27) European skylark Alauda arvensis
28) White-faced heron Ardea novaehollandiae
29) South Island pied oystercatcher Haematopus finschi
30) Australasian harrier Circus approximans

There was also a rabbit at the sewage ponds which is the first mammal for the year.

1) European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
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Well-known member
2 January

I took a friend to Hagley Park this morning to see the little owl, which was in the same place fortunately. The only new year-bird for the day was a lone waxeye in the Botanic Gardens because I didn't have time to stop to really look for anything.

31) Waxeye Zosterops lateralis


Well-known member
3 January

again before work, a quick walk took me through Travis Wetland. There were some black shags at Lake Kate Shepherd on the way, but not much around Travis (I was hoping for brown teal but none showed themselves this morning)

32) Black shag (great cormorant) Phalacrocorax carbo
33) NZ pied fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa
34) NZ shoveller Anas rhynchotis


Well-known member
11 January

the list's not exactly firing ahead on all cylinders but I haven't had any time lately to go flitting around after birds. Today though I took a friend to the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve where the macaws and takahe can't be ticked but I did see a yellowhammer in the cockatoo cage helping itself to the food along with a flock of greenfinches and sparrows. A brown rat scuttling round inside the kea aviary also added itself to the, er, "burgeoning" mammal tally

35) Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella

2) Brown rat Rattus norvegicus
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Well-known member
17 January

did the walk to the sewage ponds again today after work because a vagrant Australian wood duck had been spotted there yesterday evening. I totally missed the previous two vagrant wood ducks that came to NZ (missed them both by a day each time!) and once again this one was not to be seen by the time I could get there. However not a total loss as I did add three spoonbills and half a dozen godwits on the estuary to the year-list, and there was a surprise (albeit non-listable) pied X black stilt hybrid there as well.

36) Royal spoonbill Platalea regia
37) Bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica


Well-known member
26 January

took a long long walk this morning from home past Bexley Wetlands and the sewage ponds round to Sumner, and added three new year birds. I think the little black shags are my very favourite Christchurch bird.

38) Pied shag Phalacrocorax varius
39) Little black shag Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
40) Black-billed gull Larus bulleri


Well-known member
8 February

Slowly but surely I am turning all the people at work into birders. Some are more difficult to convert than others but I will get a full compliment in the end. Today the boss decided he wanted to go to Lake Ellesmere to photograph some crested grebes at a bird hide I had told him about, and naturally I hitched a ride along with him (not being able to drive means I rarely actually get out there). While great crested grebes are common enough in the northern hemisphere, the NZ subspecies is very rare and generally breeds up in the alpine lakes of the Southern Alps. Most of the population (i.e. about 250 to 300 birds) winters at Lake Forsyth just next to Lake Ellesmere and recently a few pairs have started nesting on Ellesmere itself which is fantastic. At the hide there were no fewer than seventeen individual grebes visible at one time, from little white downy ones through older juveniles to full adults. There was also a pair of mute swans with their almost-adult chick. The only major population of wild (introduced) mute swans in NZ is at Cooper's Lagoon at the bottom of Lake Ellesmere, so its always nice to see some. A side-trip to the Embankment Road part of Ellesmere netted some banded dotterels as well.

A couple of the boss's photos on Flickr:
Australasian harrier: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dayfish/5428279079/
Crested grebe: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dayfish/5427880348/

41) Grey warbler Gerygone igata
42) Great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus
43) Mute swan Cygnus olor
44) Redpoll Carduelis flammea
45) Banded dotterel Charadrius bicinctus


Well-known member
well......on the 22nd February I was making my way towards Arthur's Pass to find me some mountain birds and a massive earthquake decided to level half of Christchurch, so we turned the car back around and headed home to rescue our relatives. Number of birds for the day: zero.

I can't say there's been much in the way of birding since then, but I did see a house mouse on the 24th.

It wasn't till the 11th March that I finally got out to see how the local birding spots survived (answer: not very well), and that's when I saw a kingfisher at Bexley Wetlands. On the 15th I heard that there were two glossy ibis in town, one at Bexley and one at Travis, so I stumped my way through the grind to Bexley and saw the ibis, along with the hybrid stilt I'd earlier seen in January. The next day (today) I checked out Travis Wetland and saw no ibis (personally I don't think there are two; I think its the same regular wintering one that had just decided to flit between the two wetlands this year). There was a brown teal floating amongst the grey teal though, which was welcome. Crossing back to Bexley afterwards I found the ibis there. Hmmm.......

46) Sacred kingfisher Todiramphus sancta
47) Glossy ibis Plegadis falcinellus
48) Brown teal Anas chlorotis

3) House mouse Mus musculus
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Well-known member
I have now left Christchurch and settled temporarily in Wellington. So why not but make a trip up a bit further north to Napier to see the grey-tailed tattler which has been resident there for a few years now. On the bus up there I spied a few rooks in the fields, and near Te Hauke passed through the invisible mynah line, where common mynahs reach their southern limit in NZ (below which are only invisible mynahs). At the Ahuriri Estuary I soon found the tattler, which made me happy, and in the next-door Westshore Wildlife Reserve saw some NZ dabchicks and black-fronted dotterels, so tiny that I'm sure you could fit a dozen of them on the head of a pin, and so cute that you can't help but go "tee-hee-hee" in a high-pitched voice when you see them.

49) Rook Corvus frugilegus
50) Common mynah Acridotheres tristis
51) White-fronted tern Sterna striata
52) Variable oystercatcher Haematopus unicolor
53) Grey-tailed tattler Tringa brevipes
54) Tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae
55) NZ dabchick Poliocephalus rufopectus
56) Black-fronted dotterel Elseyornis melanops
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Well-known member
2 May

I took a day to wander in the Karori Sanctuary (now renamed Zealandia) in Wellington, where a valley has been predator-fenced and native birds reintroduced. School holidays have just ended so the sanctuary was pretty much empty which is good for me. It was nice to see mixed flocks of the sort you don't get in unprotected mainland forests any more, with whiteheads and stitchbirds accompanying foraging saddlebacks.

57) Stitchbird Notiomystis cincta
58) NZ bellbird Anthornis melanura
59) NZ robin Petroica australis (or North Island robin P. longipes if split)
60) Whitehead Mohoua albicilla
61) Saddleback Philesturnus carunculatus (or North Island saddleback P. rufusater if split)
62) Kaka Nestor meridionalis
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Well-known member
15 May

a friend back in Christchurch sent me a text saying that a few days before he had seen a wierd-looking duck at suburban Horseshoe Lake, and that a consultation with his field guide back home led him to the belief that it was a male Australian wood duck. Horsehoe Lake is well-known for its resident population of mongrel waterfowl, and Australian wood ducks are very rare vagrants to NZ, so I wasn't overly confident in his identification, but I put an alert on the local birding site and sure enough there was soon confirmation that the ID checked out. My problem now was that I had moved to Wellington and none of the previous few wood ducks in NZ had stayed put for more than a day or two. I was, as it happened, scheduled to return to Christchurch in a week for a short period, so I could only hope that this duck bucked the trend and hung around - it had already been at the lake for half a week after all. Next day it was still there, next day still there, day after that still there, day after that...um, not there. Next day, not there. Well, much as I had suspected it would turn out really. But then it surprised everyone by showing up again, having only been hiding apparently, and so on the 15th I saw my first New Zealand Australian wood duck (but not my first Australian wood duck, because I've seen loads of them in actual Australia). Very nice.

63) Australian wood duck Chenonetta jubata


Well-known member
16 May

I was staying in Christchurch with a friend and former colleague (before our place of work was destroyed in the aforementioned earthquake). He has recently become a birder (of course, because why would you not?) so we went for a wander to the Styx Mill Reserve today to find a pheasant because he had never seen one before.

64) Ring-necked pheasant Phasianus colchicus

While searching for pheasants we also flushed a hare:

4) European hare Lepus europaeus


Well-known member
18 May

wandering round Christchurch for the last couple of days looking for grey warblers, little black shags and black-billed gulls for my friend came up empty, but at night in the Travis Wetland we did find mammal number five for my year list

5) Brush-tailed possum Trichosurus vulpecula


Well-known member
23 May

moving on from Christchurch I ended up in the mountain town of Reefton where my mother and one of my sisters live. In my mother's garden there is a selection of weka who fossick for food amongst the plants and come running to the door hoping for a hand-out whenever anyone steps outside. Very cute.

65) Weka Gallirallus australis


Well-known member
31 May

being winter and Reefton, it hasn't stopped raining for the week since I arrived, but today we went for a drive to the coastal town of Greymouth to do some shopping. Not being much of a shopper (or rather, being a very fast in-and-out shopper not a slow browser) I spent most of my time at the breakwater watching for the Hector's dolphins that frequent the area. Today there were none, but I did see a fur seal in the surf thrashing apart what appeared to be a little blue penguin, and there were a number of spotted shags flying past in addition to the regular seabirds.

66) Spotted shag Stictocarbo punctatus

6) New Zealand fur seal Arctocephalus forsteri


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1-3 June

with some fine weather for once, I took the opportunity to hike up the Croesus Track inland from Greymouth in the Paparoa National Park, and stay for two nights in a DoC hut above the tree-line. There is a pair of great spotted kiwi holding a territory right around the hut area but true to form when I search for this species, I could hear them calling at night but an actual sighting proved impossible. However, during the day the surrounding scrub was alive with fernbirds which was excellent. I couldn't find any chamois which must surely be in the area, but did spy a herd of feral goats on a ridge. There's blue duck in the rivers lower down but although I checked out every bit of river I could find the ducks were just as elusive as the kiwi.

67) New Zealand tomtit Petroica macrocephala
68) Fernbird Bowdleria punctata
69) New Zealand pipit Anthus novaeseelandiae
70) Kea Nestor notabilis

7) Feral goat Capra hircus


Well-known member
14 June

heading back to Wellington today, and from the ferry there was a lot of seabird activity around the front of the boat, although low in number of species. No whales or dolphins either which was a shame.

71) Australasian gannet Morus serrator
72) Common diving petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix
73) Cape petrel Daption capense
74) Northern giant petrel Macronectes halli
75) White-capped albatross Thalassarche steadi
76) Fluttering shearwater Puffinus gavia


Well-known member
15 June

for the last week something like 20% of the total world population of NZ shore plovers have been hanging out at the beach at Plimmerton just north of Wellington, having flown there from Mana Island (the highest count at Plimmerton has been 37 birds). I got back to town late yesterday and first thing in the morning headed over at high tide to see them. I have to say, absolutely fantastic birds! Normally waders don't really do much for me but this is one of those species that look nice in books but in the flesh are absolutely mind-whiffling. I can honestly say that I have never seen such a large percentage of a global population of any animal species in one place before! Also its my first new bird since crow honeyeater in New Caledonia in August last year so that was nice as well.

77) NZ shore plover Thinornis novaeseelandiae
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Well-known member
22 June

completely unexpectedly an emperor penguin turned up on Monday afternoon on the coast just up the ways a bit from me, and it made the news on Tuesday (http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/5172214/Rare-NZ-emperor-penguin-appearance). This was only the second record for mainland New Zealand and the previous one (in 1967) was actually ship-assisted so this was really the first "proper" record. Today I utilised a train-bus-foot combination to reach Pekapeka Beach where happily I did see the penguin and most fantastic he was too, even if he did stay prone upon the ground rather than standing up and strutting his stuff. Seriously, a magnificent bird, and I doubt I'll ever see another one in my lifetime. There were around thirty people there, the biggest twitch I've ever seen!!! (Of course the previous biggest I've been at was five people at an Australian Wood Duck in Christchurch, and two of them were just passing City Council workers, and two were myself and my friend......New Zealand's not big on twitches). Can't help but feel sorry for the penguin though, completely lost with no idea what to do. Yesterday he was observed eating wet sand, apparently under the impression it was snow. Although he looks more-or-less fine at the moment I have a feeling he may end up at the Wellington Zoo hospital for recovery, and then he'll get shipped back to Antarctica where he belongs. Unless he just vanishes into the surf before then or, hopefully not (!), gets killed by a dog. Actually everyone there was very well behaved but you always have the idiot minority somewhere to ruin things.

78) Emperor penguin Aptenodytes forsteri
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Well-known member
4 July

I went for some wanderings around Wellington today, first to the Botanic Gardens looking for eastern rosellas (without success), then to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary,and finally the Karori Cemetery. On the way to the sanctuary I unexpectedly came across a young black rat scuttling across the road, and at the sanctuary itself I finally saw one of the falcons that are regular there (as well as all the usuals such as kaka, tui, whitehead, saddleback, etc and their takahe pair). The cemetery isn't far away and I spent about two hours walking back and forth amongst the graves searching for rosellas with absolutely no results. I've seen loads of eastern rosellas in Australia as well as in Dunedin (in NZ's South Island) but the Wellington ones never show themselves for me. Sigh.

79) New Zealand falcon Falco novaeseelandiae

8) Black rat Rattus rattus

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