The GBBC in NZ

By natcatcher February 16, 2015

Editor’s Note: This post is written by a young birder and blog writer from New Zealand on her experiences with the Great Backyard Bird Count this past week. Check out her blog: Birds in the Mountains and enjoy. (Click on all pictures to enlarge)

Day 1 

February 13, 2015

9:18-10:18 am

First step out the door I was met by the Weka; a breeding pair and their two chicks. The male is pestering me for pasta, but he has already had it this morning.



 In the distance I can heard a South Island Robin calling. As I head toward our pond the male weka (known as Two Bananas) follows me. He disappears into the undergrowth around the stream. A few seconds later he heads into the pond grass to have a drink and look for insects.

 I can hear Silvereye flocks and House Sparrow squabbling at the the chicken coop. A weka walked around the pond scaring a Dunnock out of the short reeds. The Dunnock flew into a leaning birch tree.

 Over in the beech forest I heard the sharp calls of  Tomtit and New Zealand Brown Creeper.

 I copied the tomtit’s call to see if he would come. Instead a Grey Fantail answered.But I got a glimpse of the Tomtit, he is a stunning male.

 As I head further behind the pond I spot Grey Warbler (grey greygone). Strangely it is flying round two beech tree repeatedly. I have never seen a bird do this!

 I go down to my swing to sit and listen for birds. The weka is following Shadow, my dog. Maybe he thinks he will feed him? I hear the tomtit over near the pond so I go and sit there for awhile but do not hear him.Sparrows check the coop for leftover chicken food. One bird watches while the others feed. I got great views of a tiny Silvereye as I went to the coop.

 I can hear Korimako (New Zealand Bellbird) most of the time, but I just heard a close one. If I had woken up earlier I would have heard more birds.

 I see the silhouette of a bird flying thru the bush. The jizz shows me that it was a Eurasian Blackbird.

  I see the Tomtit again and get some photos. As I watch him I heard my first California Quail of the year!


I went for a walk down the lane this afternoon. While I was walking I heard Grey Fantail and a South Island Robin in the beech forest. Past the tea tree brush, in the neighbours paddock I can hear Masked Lapwing (Spur-winged Plover). As Shadow and I got to the corner of my land, a European Wild Rabbit ran in front of us that Shadow did not notice. In the fields I could hear Yellowhammer, House Sparrow, Eurasian Goldfinch, and Chaffinch.




Day 2


When we turned round the corner into the Kerr Bay car park it was way to busy. The Waka (maori canoe)  club was there with all the wakas and there were a lot of people watching. We decided to go to West Bay, but I did try to count the birds. I got three species; House Sparrow, Mallard and New Zealand Bellbird.


Day 3

2:36-3:09 PM

As we entered West Bay car park a large Tui (New Zealand Honeyeater, Parson Bird)flew overhead. There were a few people here but not as many.

 On the water there were 14 Mallards. Many appeared to be Grey Duck(Pacific Black Duck) hybrids. Around the shore I saw my first Australasian Pipit of the year drinking from the lake! As we were walking back a Chaffinch was feeding on the ground in front of us.You can view the checklist here. 

 Sadly I didn’t do much birding today. I thought I’d lost Plover, my chicken, and was worried. I did do two window counts and a short walk round the clearings though. 

 Here are my notes from the short walk:

  I can hear Brown Creeper in Back Clearing. I’m going to see them.Shadow just leaps over the cutty grass.


Day 4

The last day

Today, to end the Great Backyard Bird Count, I went the Wairau River, a place I’ve never birded. I was pleasantly surprised. The part of the braided river we went to was great for birds. I got closer to a Black-fronted Tern than I’d ever been.Here is my checklist.

 By far my favorite birds there were the terns. Their plumage is fine and flight beautiful. And if we got too close to their fledgling they would come at us.I’ve got more photos on my Flickr , click here.

 Then there was the New Zealand Dotterels, New Zealand Pipit and the Greenfinch chick which I had good views of.

 It was a great place and I must go again!