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My Canterbury Lists 2021 (1 Viewer)


Gregor Tims
I’ve decided to set myself the challenge of a year list for Canterbury, New Zealand this year. I’ve sadly got limited time for birding this year around work and studying, but let’s see what I can get to! 100 might be unrealistic, but I’ll have that as my aim for now.

So far:
January 1st, Papanui, Christchurch
1. House Sparrow
2. Song Thrush
3. European Greenfinch
4. Kelp Gull
5. Red-billed Gull
6. Common Blackbird
7. European Goldfinch
8. Common Starling
9. Lesser Redpoll
10. Welcome Swallow
11. Feral Pigeon
12. Silvereye

Halswell Quarry
13. Eurasian Skylark
14. Yellowhammer
15. Swamp Harrier

Travis Wetlands, Christchurch
16. Dunnock
17. New Zealand Bellbird
18. New Zealand Fantail
19. Canada Goose
20. Paradise Shelduck
21. Australasian Swamphen
22. Black Swan
23. Mallard
24. New Zealand Scaup
25. Great Cormorant
26. Royal Spoonbill
27. Little Pied Cormorant
28. Australian Magpie
29. Common Chaffinch
30. Grey Teal
31. Australasian Shoveler
32. Masked Lapwing
33. South Island Pied Oystercatcher
34. White-headed Stilt
(Also Cape Barren Goose, but this bird is believed to likely be an escape, rather than from NZ’s feral population, I’ll have to travel to north Canterbury at some point to try and get them!)

Riccarton Bush, Christchurch
35. New Zealand Pigeon

January 2nd, near Lincoln
36. Common Pheasant

Lake Ellesmere
37. Double-banded Plover
38. White-faced Heron
39. Wrybill
40. Red-necked Stint
41. Caspian Tern
42. Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
43. Black-fronted Dotterel

January 3rd, Hagley Oval
44. Sacred Kingfisher

January 5th, Ashley Estuary
45. Pacific Black Duck
46. Bar-tailed Godwit
47. White-fronted Tern
48. Black-fronted Tern
49. Australian Pied Cormorant
50. Variable Oystercatcher
51. Black Stilt
52. Black-billed Gull
53. California Quail

Kaikoura (sadly only a brief stop on my way north, I’ll be back for a pelagic trip)
54. Australasian Gannet
55. Hutton’s Shearwater
56. Ruddy Turnstone

January 10th, Avon Heathcote Estuary
57. Little Black Cormorant

Godley Head
58. New Zealand Pipit
59. Spotted Shag

I’ll hopefully be able to get a quick trip to Ellesmere in before work tomorrow- there are Grey-tailed Tattler, Pectoral and Marsh Sandpipers and Pacific Golden Plovers there, and an Australasian Bittern would be nice too...
I sadly ran out of time to get to Ellesmere before work today, but I got a couple of additions at a wetland in Christchurch:

January 11th, Roto Kohatu, Christchurch
60. Eurasian Coot
61. Great Crested Grebe
13 days longer than I thought it would take me for this one!

January 13th, Papanui, Christchurch
63. Grey Gerygone
January 15th, Travis Wetlands, Christchurch
64. Greylag Goose

January 16th, Harts Creek, Lake Ellesmere
65. Mute Swan
66. Wild Turkey

Today was fairly frustrating overall, as I walked about 15km searching for the Grey-tailed Tattler and Pectoral Sandpipers along the shoreline of Lake Ellesmere (I did have beautiful views of some Sharp-taileds at least!), before a stake-out for Australasian Bittern at another location on the lake drew blank. It’s perhaps a sad representation of the state of NZ’s birds that for all my effort today and yesterday, the only year ticks have been non-native birds! At least the Turkey could have been a tricky one- this is the only feral population in Canterbury.

Even with 22 introduced species already in the bag, the following are still possible for Canterbury:

Cape Barren Goose- small population in north Canterbury
Peacock- population near Rangiora
Chukar Partridge- difficult to find, restricted to the mountains of west Canterbury
Spotted Dove and African Collared Dove- small populations near Rangiora
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo- now restricted to some valleys on Banks Peninsula
Cirl Bunting- small numbers at some locations in and around Christchurch

Rook and Eastern Rosella are most likely now extinct though individuals are still occasionally seen. It’s quite a selection but I’m really hoping the next addition will be something native😂


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A fantastic day of walking in the hilly forests of the Banks Peninsula, and a few new birds from it!

January 23, Hinewai Reserve, Banks Peninsula
67. Pipipi
68. Tomtit
69. Rifleman
70. Tui

The Banks Peninsula is the last refuge for these species (along with Morepork and NZ Falcon, though these are very rare) within the Christchurch area. I’ll try for the Cockatoos tomorrow!
I made the long journey to Hawdon Valley this weekend, where I enjoyed a beautiful tramp up to Hawdon Shelter. My main target was Yellowhead, a species I have never seen, but sadly I missed them. I will be back when I can!

Meanwhile, I did manage a trio of nice year ticks:
February 7th, Hawdon Valley
71. South Island Robin

February 8th, Hawdon Valley
72. New Zealand Kaka

Arthur's Pass Village
73. Kea

Also large numbers of Rifleman and Tomtit around. It was too windy at night sadly to look for Great Spotted Kiwi and Morepork, while I also missed Yellow-crowned and Malherbe's Parakeet and Long-tailed Cuckoo in addition to the Yellowhead. Hopefully I'll have more success next time!
A long break since my last tick, in which time I've enjoyed an amazing week of birding in Stewart Island, followed by virtually non-stop work and study, though I have had time to make a small number of birding excursions, finally resulting in another year tick!

March 15th, Harts Creek, Lake Ellesmere
74. Baillon's Crake

The search for an Australasian Bittern there continues! Spotless Crake and Great White Egret have also been in the area recently, so I'll be back as soon as possible...
May 1st, Bromley Wetlands, Christchurch
75. Indian Peafowl
76. White-winged Tern

Linwood Canal
77. Great White Egret

Nice to finally be able to get out for some birdwatching, and to have some birds to see! The tern was especially pleasing for me as a New Zealand tick, but sadly I missed mega vagrant Northern Shoveler seen earlier in the day. Still a few easy ones to find so the target of 100 is still feasible!
Exciting news this morning was that the Shoveler had been re-found, this time at a wetland just north of Christchurch where it had been seen around the same time last year. A fantastic and unexpected New Zealand tick for me! It was nice to be able to take a photo of the Northern Shoveler alongside the NZ subspecies of Australasian Shoveler (with a NZ Scaup in the foreground!).

May 8th, Pegasus Wetlands, Waimakariri
78. Northern Shoveler


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My best ever find in New Zealand today!

May 20th, New Brighton Beach, Christchurch
79. Arctic Jaeger

A lifer for me and a mega rarity in this part of New Zealand. I went for a short walk along the city beach this afternoon as a break from university study and was already overjoyed to spot a small group of Arctic Jaegers heading north, along with two Australasian Gannets, when I suddenly noticed a small and delicate bird being harassed by Kelp Gulls. I couldn't believe it when I raised my binoculars and found it was a Prion species, my second at close range on a beach in the last few months! Tragically, I hadn't brought my camera with me but managed to approach it and take some photos with my mobile phone, which has concerned its identity as an Antarctic Prion, a species which has no previous eBird reports in Christchurch. What a bird!

I'm taking a day of tomorrow for some birding, with several targets in mind, two of which would be an NZ tick...prion.jpeg
Another amazing day, and remarkably my second in succession on which I’ve found a New Zealand rarity myself!

May 21st, Leeston, Selwyn District
81. Eastern Cattle Egret

I’ve been planning for sometime to make the long drive down to the fields west of Lake Ellesmere which is a regular haunt for Cattle Egrets in winter. I quickly found them there (a NZ tick for me!) among a huge flock of White-faced Herons, White-headed Stilts and Gulls. Soon, a Swamp Harrier spooked the entire flock and I could hardly believe my eyes when I spotted the distinctive shape of a Glossy Ibis among them! After successfully managing a long-range record shot, I set about chasing my other targets without success- feral Helmeted Guineafowl in the same fields, and Australasian Bittern and Spotless Crake at Harts Creek. Earlier I’d missed Cirl Bunting on the way down to Ellesmere.

With some remaining residents to find and a pelagic off Kaikoura planned for July, my target of 100 is crtainly still on the cards! It will help if I keep striking lucky with rarities!
May 30th, New Brighton Beach, Christchurch
83. Northern Giant Petrel

Seawatchers south of Christchurch were treated to remarkable spectacle, with dozens of Soft-plumaged, Cape and Giant Petrels passing close to shore in the middle of a violent storm. Sadly I was too busy with university work to may it out in the morning, but given the continuing conditions, I thought it might be worth checking New Brighton Beach in the city. Amazingly, within twenty minutes, a Northern Giant Petrel passed, followed by a fantastically close Soft-plumaged Petrel- a lifer for me! And amazing to see it so close to where the Antarctic Prion was 10 days ago.

Several White-headed Petrels were also seen further south today and weather conditions look good tomorrow. Sadly I fear I'm going to be too busy to have a look until Friday, but we shall see what happens!
Sadly the weather has changed and now I’ve got some green time, the Antarctic seabirds aren’t being seen anymore.

I had a nice afternoon birding near home though, but lousy one addition to the year list:

June 3rd, Marshlands Road, Christchurch
85. African Collared Dove

A small population of these is rapidly growing in north Christchurch. I then tried for the city’s long-staying Common Myna, but no luck. Hopefully the Antarctic winds will be back some time this winter!
IMG_7597 (2).JPGIMG_7604 (2).JPGIMG_7610 (2).JPGIMG_7614 (2).JPGIMG_7619 (2).JPGSome of the birds from yesterday! African Collared Dove, White-headed Stilt, Masked Lapwing, Pukeko and Australasian Shoveler.
June 22nd, Sparks Road Wetland, Christchurch
86. Cirl Bunting

Very pleased to have found two of these myself after several failed attempts at twitching these this year. Along with Little Owl, this is surely one of the most unexpected introduced species found in New Zealand, but a beautiful species and a treat to see. I'm planning to go to Kaikoura in July, so hopefully I'll add some more seabirds soon!
July 1st, Godley Head, Christchurch
87. Little Penguin

Having been too busy to visit the small penguin colony at Godley Head early in the year, it was nice to see that some are already back on their nests now! A beautiful walk in a beautiful place, and I'm only 13 short of 100 now!
July 12th, Prices Valley, Banks Peninsula
88. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Beautiful to see close to 50 of them in this stunning location. It’s the last of the easy birds for the year except for a few pelagics in Kaikoura. 100 is certainly still in reach!
August 5th, St Anne’s Lagoon, Cheviot
89. Cape Barren Goose

An NZ tick for me. Despite having seen them multiple times at Travis Wetlands, those birds are believed to be escaped. The birds at St Anne’s Lagoon, however, are the remnants of what was once NZ’s largest self-sustaining population, though it appears that there may now be only one left.

90. White-capped Albatross
91. Fluttering Shearwater
92. Black-browed Albatross

A nice sea watch this evening from the seal colony before a special day tomorrow- the Albatross Encounter pelagic trip!
August 6th, Albatross Encounter, Kaikoura
93. Cape Petrel
94. Buller's Albatross
95. Antipodean Albatross
96. Fairy Prion
97. Southern Royal Albatross
98. Salvin's Albatross
99. Northern Royal Albatross

An amazing trip, as always, out of Kaikoura. But I'm now stuck on 99 and for family reasons I've got to head to Europe in a couple of weeks! A search for Eastern Reef Egret around Kaikoura was unsuccessful today, let's see if there's something else I can find before I leave..
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