Thursday, 4 October 2018

An Open Sanctuary; Part 3- Tieke & Tiri

Real-time

Not only did I get to see the Banded Rail while we camped at Shakespear Park but I was also lucky enough to have a close encounter with not one, but two rare and endangered North Island Saddleback/Tieke. 


Tieke have only recently (May, 2018) been introduced to the park; 40 were relocated from Tiritiri Matangi Island, an island sanctuary just off the tip the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and across the water from Shakespear Park. Tieke spend alot of their time on the ground and nest in the cavities of trees which make them extremely vulnerable to introduced predators; they can only survive longterm on the mainland within a predator proof fence (although some do escape over the fence and set up home, their survival rate is not great).

I happened to be walking along an open track near the other camp when I thought I recognised a bird call a distance away. Tieke have a very distinctive sound and once you have heard them, you'll always recognise the call.


I hadn't known they were in the sanctuary so it was a thrill to check out the nearby bush and find two birds flitting about and calling to each other. In fact there was a third bird nearby and I suspect that was why there was a lot of  noise and they were out in the open. The male of the pair (I'm thinking that's him above) was challenging the other bird at every call, his mate (that's her in the first photo) was coming in to reassure him, often tapping bills and following him around.  


I was pleased to get some lovely photos of the birds, we've seen tieke on several predator free islands and other mainland sanctuaries but they are usually in the dark bush and moving fast as they forage along the ground and around fallen logs, this makes it very hard to get any decent photos.  

I love the contrast of the red wattles against the sleek black feathers in this shot. Tieke belong to the same family as the beautiful and endangered Kokako, with it's blue wattles (and haunting song) and the extinct Huia which had orange wattles.


We were very impressed with the bird life around Shakepear Park, it was fabulous to see so many species; endemic, native and introduced, going about their business without a worry of being chased or eaten. 

The small flocks of Brown Quail/Kuera kept us entertained; like fluffy bumble bees, they hurried through the short grass when they were disturbed or were flushed from bush.


Some of the more common birds I photograph were (from the top, clockwise); the Variable Oystercatcher/Torea Pango, Pukeko, Feral Pigeon, Eastern Rosella, Peahen and a Skylark.


With many of the park's Kowhai trees in full bloom, the Tui spent most of their day- in between sipping the nectar- protecting 'their' tree from other tui and the Bellbirds/Korimako.


There are several tracks and trails of varying lengths throughout the park, some are loops, others join up, most are through a mix of bush and open ground. One of the longer trails allows mountain bikes. 

I decided to walk up through Waterfall Gully on the Heritage Trail (3.9km loop) hoping to find a Bush Robin or two (these have also been introduced to Shakespear), and while I heard a few none came down to the path. I even tempted them by scratching around in the leaf litter, this is usually a sure fire way to attract them.


Once through the bush, it was steady climb to the Lookout, sitting near the centre of the Park and a meeting point for most of the trails. There had been a very light drizzle which was much appreciated  as I climbed to the lookout but luckily it cleared soon after I reached the top which was great as I wanted to see the views and walk the Tiri Track (4.8km) back to Te Haruhi Bay.


The views from the Lookout platform were spectacular; this is looking to the east, out over regenerating bush to Tiritiri Matangi Island. The island that the many of the birds here in Shakespear came from. Some have even made their own way here across the water. On the far right you can see one of the Fuller Ferries that take tours out to the island from Gulf Harbour and downtown Auckland.


Walkers head back down to Te Haruhi Bay via the Lookout Track (2.5km loop). Rangitoto Island spreads herself along the horizon with Waiheke Island disappearing to the left.


Shakespear Homestead (now a YMCA Lodge) overlooks Te Haruhi Bay, with the houses of Gulf Harbour behind. You can't see our rig in the bay, it's hidden in the trees to the left of the small pump shed, centre left (click to enlarge).


After a pit stop at the lookout I carried on along the top, heading towards the coast and Tiritiri Matangi. The north east corner of the tip of the peninsula is NZ Defence Force land and a barbed wire fence stops intruders. I'm sure birds can't read so there must be alot over there too, they're still protected by the predator fence which starts in Army Bay, at the entrance to the Defence Force land.


There's a alternate track that cuts the corner off the Tiri Track, it heads down into this gully through bush and then rejoins back up the top on the other side. I decide to stick to the open ground; I'm loving the views. I can see the track way over the far side making it's way to the top of the headland; still quite a way to walk. 


It seems that many of the walkers I'm passing up coming towards me but I'm pleased that I'm doing the walk clockwise, the climbs are a little more gentle. This may not seem a steep climb but it is and there's another steeper one over that rise.


I had been following this couple who came out ahead of me from the alternate track; that's not a skirt, he has a yellow jacket tied around his waist. I'm following them along and then find out that we've both missed the turn down a fence line so we have to scramble down a steep slope to the track below.


They continue on and I take a short detour to check out Pink Beach, there's a steep staircase down to the rocks and a hidden beach (behind me). The tide is stopping access although I can report that the small amount of sand I could see did indeed have a pink tinge. This is often caused by broken shell and barnacle plates.


From the beach is was a gentle climb up the track past this lookout shelter. I'm not sure if it is one of the pillboxes left over from WW11 but it certainly looked like a lookout.


At the top of the next hill there's a quintessential New Zealand scene; a gathering of pukeko & sheep; the water trough, and not the views, are hot property here.


This little guy was keeping an eye on my movements, willing me to continue on my way so he didn't have to vacate his shady spot behind the trough.


I carried on up and over another hill until Te Haruhi Bay and home base came into view. 


And then I once again lost my way when I failed to see a marker post, and it's no good trying to follow what you think is the track because there are so many sheep tracks as well. I walked to the bottom and then back up two of those grass slopes (above) looking for the track down to the bay. It was in the third one! And the marker pole was on the fence at the bottom; I couldn't  see it from the top of the hill but I guess most people walk the other way and their pole stands out against the skyline.


So close yet so far! We're parked to the side of the caravan you can see in this photo, centre right. 


We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Shakespear Park and would highly recommend it, the prolific bird life was a definite highlight. We'll return one day.

2 comments:

  1. Love your bird photography and information

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    1. Thanks Joy, much appreciated and I'm pleased you enjoy the blog.

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