Endemic birds thriving in Otago

From previous visits to Aotearoa New Zealand, I was expecting endemic land birds to be few and far between, with introduced British and Australian species dominating the landscape. So it was a pleasant surprise to find the tables turned in favour of the natives in the Otago Lakes District. The first bird I encountered on venturing outside was a Tui, perched at the top of a conifer. Then on entering a patch of manuka/kanuka scrub, an unfamiliar bird popped up. It proved to be a South Island Tomtit, actually one of the Australasian robins belonging to the genus petroica. The orange chest markings indicated a male, springing into action to investigate or challenge the intruder.
After sitting down to investigate some bird calls emanating from the scrub, I was soon surrounded by curious passerines investigating the intrusion into their territory. First to arrive were South Island Fantails, displaying at point-blank range by fanning their tails. They were soon joined by a chattering group of Pipipi or Brown Creeper, a relative of the endemic Whitehead and Yellowhead which inhabits scrub across the South Island. Also in the scrub were a Grey Gerygone, the most widespread of the endemic land birds, and a Silvereye, a species of whiteye from Australia. A Swamp Harrier, the commonest raptor in New Zealand, was hunting over the pine forest.
The resilience of the native passerines owes much to the use of trapping to control introduced predators such as stoats and rats. This is a step towards the goal of making the islands predator-free by 2050.

Posted on February 12, 2024 11:58 PM by stephenmatthews stephenmatthews

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Tuī (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae)

Observer

stephenmatthews

Date

February 11, 2024 07:51 PM NZDT

Photos / Sounds

What

South Island Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala ssp. macrocephala)

Observer

stephenmatthews

Date

February 11, 2024 08:00 PM NZDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Gray Gerygone (Gerygone igata)

Observer

stephenmatthews

Date

February 11, 2024 08:19 PM NZDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Gray Gerygone (Gerygone igata)

Observer

stephenmatthews

Date

February 12, 2024 02:37 PM NZDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Pipipi (Mohoua novaeseelandiae)

Observer

stephenmatthews

Date

February 12, 2024 07:33 PM NZDT

Photos / Sounds

What

South Island Fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa ssp. fuliginosa)

Observer

stephenmatthews

Date

February 12, 2024 07:42 PM NZDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Tasmanian Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis ssp. lateralis)

Observer

stephenmatthews

Date

February 12, 2024 07:43 PM NZDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans)

Observer

stephenmatthews

Date

February 12, 2024 08:17 PM NZDT

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