New Zealand

1420963_97126589Once completely dominated by birds, New Zealand proved to be a natural experiment in
the evolution of birds. Consequently some of the weirdest birds live in New Zealand.
Unfortunately things have changed since the last 400/500 years and this fragile ecosystem
is taken over by all kinds of introduced species.Dozens of bird species became extinct
and a lot more became threatened of which some are at present among the rarest birds in
the world. Introduced birds took over the landscape and at present they are more common
that the natives.
But there is hope. More and more islands are made predator free and reintroduction of
rare species like Stitchbird (Notiomystis cincta, Geelbandhoningeter) and Saddleback
(Philesturnus carunculatus, Zadelrugspreeuw) -completely gone from the mainland- are
doing well on those islands. Even the presumed extinct Takahe (Porphyrio mantelli –
Takahe) has a new future on those islands. Fortunately most of those island are
welcoming visitors. Additionally pest control on the mainland is working well at some
spots and a relatively big part of the New Zealand landscape is officially protected.
New Zealand has traditionally been a very popular tourist destination, consequently the
country has a well developed tourist infrastructure. The country also has a long history of
bird watching visitors. Combined with the fact that almost everybody is hooked to the
internet, this makes preparing a trip to New Zealand an ease. The extreme diversity of
landscapes including some of the most dramatic ones on earth makes a trip to New
Zealand a must to travelling birders. Yet, in my opinion, the fun of birding in New
Zealand is tempered significantly by the abundance of introduced European birds and the
scarcity of the native birds. Only the impressively abundant sea life including seabirds
like albatrosses, petrels and prions make up for the lack of mainland birding fun.
Don’t expect to collect a big birding list. The mean three week expectation does not
exceed 100 species, plus an additional 25 introduced species. As can be expected a big
part of this list will be seabirds, collected at several pelagics and ferry rides.