5-12-2004

Still raining in the morning. We departed to Lake Tekapo and we were quite
surprised coming across a car with a thick layer of snow on the roof. Only a few
kilometres further on up the road we were driving in a snow storm ourselves! The Church
of the good Shepherd was somewhat different from the pictures we saw in the brochures!
It snowed like crazy and the lake was hardly visible. My first try for Black Stilt was near
Lake Alexandrina but without success, partly because of the snow storm. Doublebanded Plover (Charadrius bicinctus, Dubbelbandplevier) was common. The second try
was north of Lake Pukaki, behind the airstrip. It was not snowing but raining (probably a
bit lower in altitude) making the visibility a bit better. The first Black Stilt (Himantopus
novaezelandiae, Zwarte Steltkluut) was a juvenile (after a few obvious hybrids) and
showed well from close quarters. There was another juvenile close by. Both birds were
ringed. At least four adults were present much further up the river mouth with Whiteheaded Stilts (Himantopus leucocephalus, Steltkluut) and some probable hybrids. Also
present at this spot were Black-fronted Tern (Sterna albostriata, Nieuwzeelandse
Stern), Double-banded Plover and Wrybill. Nice spot but the rain kind of ruined the fun
to explore more of the area so we decided to leave directly.
We drove on to Omarama where we had a short (dry) stop at the bridge over the river
with Black-fronted Tern obvious. After that we spent the best part of the morning
driving to Oamaru at the coast south of Timaru. We found a nice cabin in Oamaru Top 10
Holiday Park (NZ $ 40,-) and spent the afternoon walking on the beach. Here I found my
first Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes, Geeloogpinguïn), a juvenile bird that
sat just above the public beach and looked deserted by its parent. Stewart Island Shag
(Phalacrocorax chalconotus, Stewart Island Aalscholver) flew by. I followed the trail