Five Weeks in New Zealand - South Island; Albatross, Kea, Kaka and more!

Three weeks after returning from our adventure to the other side of the planet, it is time to take stock and decide what to commit to print about this unique country.

First of all, it should be noted that we `only` explored The South Island during our five weeks; this giving us the best chance to find every bird that we wanted to.  In this, we were entirely successful, from Wandering Albatross to Kaka to Black Stilt. A visit to my Flickr Feed (New Zealand album) will provide photographs of many wonderful (and unique) birds.

So, why only a short entry here on the blog, and a struggle to decide what to say?

Here goes....

On the one hand, it is one thing to read about the 11 foot wingspan and flight speed of the Wondering Albatross and quite another to have one flying straight towards you! And realise that perhaps a wide-angle lens might have been a better choice!
The Kea in the cafe at Arthur1s Pass were unforgettable as were the Kaka on Ulva Island!


NZ 04 (537)

On the other hand, however, the awful SILENCE of endless sheep-farms and other wrecked ecosystems was chilling - we are SO lucky in the UK. The fact is that a few days in our back garden will yield more species  than a lifetime inland in NZ - and the bird-song this Spring is magical (more so now)....
To have to visit an eco-sanctuary surrounded by a multi-million dollar fence just to catch sight a few tens of individual birds puts Minsmere et al into a new perspective.
Furthermore, a couple of weeks in the Lakes or Wales or Northumberland etc will yield many many more scenic delights as well.

If you are a birder - DO go to NZ - the endemic species are amazing. Go to Kaikora on the Albatross Encounter to see the most amazing bird so close: go soon though if you want to see a Yellow-eyed Penguin before they are all gone .....

And that is the problem really; I wish the conservators all the luck in the World, but are some of the remaining species truly viable in the long term? One bout of bird flu will be catastrophic and that black stilt will be a memory....

One final thought. I sat yesterday afternoon at the allotment -  listening to two great tits, two robins, a blackbird, a thrush and a chaffinch all singing their little hearts out. I wander what a Kiwi visitor would think of our dawn chorus.....

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