25 Nov 2010

Lincoln – Lake Ellesmere – Oamaru – Dunedin – 22nd

Had a breakfast at Colins place. Took farewell of the cats and we headed to Colins office at Landcare Research in Lincoln. He had to do some preparations for the 9 week long stay on Campbell Islands, of which he will be leading. You can follow their research and monitoring work on www.campbellisland.org.nz

Later in the morning we drove to Lake Ellesmere, a huge brackish lake just south of Christchurch. We had an appointment with the local birder Colin Hill and drove to his farm with its beautiful rose garden. We changed to gumboots and placed ourselves in Colins 4WD jeep. If one visit Lake Ellesmere for the first time I think its wise to use a guide that know the area and where to find shorebirds, depending on winds and water-levels. Lake Ellesmere is a huge area, which is impossible to cover within a single day. However, we did a good work and saw Pectoral Sandpiper (4), Curlew Sandpiper (2), Red Knot (15), Pacific Golden Plover (7), Wrybill (1), Turnstone (5), Bar-tailed Godwit (100), Banded Dotterel (20), Black-billed Gull (1) and Caspian Tern (7). Add to this hundreds of Pied Stilts, Red-billed Gulls, Black Swans, Grey Teals and Australian Shovelers and many more. After three hours nice birdning we said good bye to Colin, a kind and helpful guy. We drove back to Colins office as he had to do some paperwork before headed southwards to Oamaru. We left Lincoln at five and did a few stops now and then and about ten Black-fronted Terns at Waitaki River were the most exciting bird sighting along the road. Well in Oamaru we drove to Bushey Beach where the rare Yellow-eyed Penguin breed with a few pairs. We were a bit late and had already missed five penguins. However, we were lucky as a late struggler landed on the beach. What a lovely sighting! We stayed for half an hour more, but no more Yellow-eyed Penguins. We then drove to a Blue Penguin colony for a short visit. We saw one at close range and heard several more. Time was 9:30pm and we decided to drive to Dunedin, instead of staying overnight in Oamaru. In Dunedin we stayed in a nice flat, which Colin had lent from a friend.

Dr Colin Meurk in his office at Landcare Research in Lincoln. He soon going to Campbell Islands for nine weeks monitoring work.
Only a part of Lake Ellesmere. A huge area to cover, so one need a knowledgeable man to find the birds and Colin Hill is the man.
Double Colin. From left: Colin Hill and Colin Meurk at Lake Ellesmere.
Sign in Oamaru (known as the Penguin Town). Bushey Beach is the place where Yellow-eyed Penguin breed.
Bushey Beach at dusk. We saw a single Yellow-eyed Penguin, even though we were a bit late.

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