Friday, 3 February 2012

Whitianga Pelagic - New Zealand.

As the Miranda Field Course came to an end and everybody departed so somebody new arrived. This new person was Stuart. Stuart and I had planned to have a long weekend together (5 days) and the main aim was to go out on a couple of pelagic trips. The first pelagic was out of Whitianga. This pelagic came about by pure luck as a Dutch birder I met at Miranda one day advised me that he was going out on this particular pelagic as it is the best for seeing rafts of Pycrofts Petrels near the Mercury Islands. Above Image shows you a Cooks Petrel of which many were seen.

We were unlucky with the weather as the sea state was calm like a mill-pond and there was no wind to help give the birds a lift. We in-fact struggled for Pycrofts apart from a group of 6 that were callled as Pycrofts that were flushed up by our boat. I must say that they looked plainer-blander looking in the face & lacking a strong eyebrow and maybe more compact but I really do not know or have enough experience with these 2 species (Cooks & Pycrofts) and I must admit I find Cookalari Petrels very difficult to get my head around. The bird above seems to very bland and the eyebrow seems to appear very feint but is presumed to be a Cooks Petrel. Image below more of a typical Cooks, I believe ?


Image above and below shows a Black Petrel. When seen on the deck close-by I find these to be a smart bird with a gentile appearance. We had several of these around the boat feeding on the chum as well as several White Faced Storm Petrels. Fairy Prion was a new species for me this trip as well. We had many Bullers and Flesh Footed Shearwaters.


This pelagic trip was arranged through Wrybill Birding Tours NZ and I must say that they are excellent at what they do. When I first arrived at Miranda and asked around on who people would advise to arrange a pelagic with it was the same names that just kept being mentioned, Sav Saville, Brent Stephenson = Wrybill Tours. Sav Saville was present on this pelagic trip and was helpful throughout and it was nice just to chat with him. He had a few clients on-board who were on a 3 week guided tour with him and they were all full of smiles and compliments about Sav himself, the pace of the tour and the success rate in which they were seeing all of the desired species. When Stuart and I departed Miranda for this Pelagic, Keith the site manager of Miranda asked who was leading this Pelagic trip and when we advised him it was Sav Saville he just smiled and said " Your in good hands today". So if you are in New Zealand then don't look around for pelagic tour operators just click on the link http://www.wrybill-tours.com/index.htm sit back, relax and go with the best pelagic tour operator in new Zealand.