Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

Among the birds in the Waitakere Hills near Auckland

Among the birds in the Waitakere Hills near Auckland

An image of Lone Kauri Lodge in New Zealand.

After picking up a rental car in Auckland, New Zealand, Bob set about driving us to our first accommodation in Karekare at the edge of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park in the Waitakere Hills.  What a warm welcome we received at Lone Kauri Lodge and what a nice touch to see the Canadian flag flying proudly from their flagpole.

An image of Ann and Keith the proprietors of Lone Kauri Lodge in New Zealand.

The proprietors, Keith and Ann, make it a practice to fly the flag of their guests’ home country as a way of making them feel welcome.

An image of the Waitakere Hills near Auckland, New Zealand.

We had a little trouble finding the Lodge.  The GPS guided us to a walking trail down a very steep forested mountainside.  Obviously, we couldn’t drive down that so had to find an alternate route.

An image of Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

Driving in a different direction, basically following our nose, we came upon an inviting roadside park adjacent to Karekare Stream.

An image of a Little Pied Cormorant on the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

Seeing an unfamiliar bird on a sandy point, Bob and I decided we needed a break so would check out the bird.

An image of Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

After being cooped up on a jet plane and biding our time at airports for the past 30 hours, we were eager to stretch our legs and make use of our cameras.  The two of us were like kids in a candy shop!

An image of a Little Pied Cormorant on the banks of the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

Of course, every bird that we saw was a new one to us whether or not it was common in New Zealand.  The bird that originally caught our attention was a Little Pied Cormorant more commonly known in New Zealand as a Little Shag.

An image of the walking trail along the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

It soon became apparent that there were several different species of birds at that one location, and with a trail and boardwalk that skirted the stream, the local park warranted more than just a few minutes of our time.

An image of a Grey duck mallard hybird swimming on Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

As we walked a little further, our eyes were drawn to the edge of the Karekare Stream where several ducks bobbed on the water near the bank.  As they came into the clear, it was possible to discern two or three Pacific Black Ducks, also known as Grey Ducks, and one that appeared to be a Grey Duck Mallard Hybrid.

An image of Pacific black ducks on the bank of the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

A Pacific Black Duck was also seen resting on shore with two fledglings nestled in the dry grass nearby.

An image of Paradise shelducks on the edge of the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

Next coming into view was a larger duck waddling on a sandy spit.  It couldn’t be missed!  The duck was about the size of a goose.  It turned out to be a Paradise Shelduck that was grazing on fresh shoots near the water’s edge.  These large ducks are endemic to New Zealand.

An image of an Australasian Swamphen and her chicks on the edge of the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

While focusing our cameras on the Paradise Shelduck, a small black fuzzy head popped up from the thick mass of fresh grass.  No idea what we were looking at, but the little fledgling kept our interest, and then one of its parents came around to shepherd this offspring and another back towards the flowing water.

An image of an Australasian Swamphens and chicks on the edge of the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

In all, there were two babies and three adult Australasian Swamphens that are more commonly known as Pukekos by the local people.

An image of a Common Myna bird sitting in a tree along the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

As if to command a little attention of its own, a Common Myna bird flew into the area and lit at the top of a nearby tree.  Although I was pleased to see the bird, which is native to Asia, it is considered one of the most invasive species worldwide.

An image of a Yellowhamer bird on the edge of the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

We managed a few record shots of a male Yellowhammer that was foraging along the stream bank.  This member of the bunting family is another species that has been introduced to New Zealand, this time from Eurasia.

An image of Welcome Swallows on the edge of the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

Bob and I were exhausted by this time so had to make our way back to the car and proceed with finding our accommodation.  A rest was in order!  Still, a pair of Welcome Swallows on the opposite shoreline justified a couple of record shots so we could add them to our list of new birds.

An image of a Eurasian Blackbird in the parking lot beside the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

Even the cultivated grass next to the parking lot rewarded us with another pair of Lifers.  A Eurasian Blackbird male…

An image of a Female Chaffinch beside the Karekare Stream near Auckland, New Zealand.

and a female Chaffinch.

An image of a Sacred Kingfisher near Karekare Falls, Auckland, New Zealand.

As we drove the back roads trying to find our lodgings, opportunities presented themselves around every corner.  A Sacred Kingfisher sat on a utility wire near Karekare Falls,

An image of a Spur-winged Plovers near Karekare Falls, Auckland, New Zealand.

and a sheep pasture was home to a couple of Spur-winged Plovers,

An image of a Yellowhammer sitting on a fence post near Karekare Falls, Auckland, New Zealand.

while a Yellowhammer oversaw the comings and goings of the same farmyard from its perch atop a fence post.

An image of the Waitakere Hills near Auckland, New Zealand.

After several misguided attempts to locate our lodgings by consulting with a couple of residents and driving a couple of gravel roads into the mountains,

An image of Lone Kauri Lodge in the Waitakere Hills near Auckland, New Zealand.

we finally found Lone Kauri Lodge.

An image of the forest at Lone Kauri Lodge in the Waitakere Hills near Auckland, New Zealand.

Our bedroom looked out onto an intimate patio wrapped in lush tropical vegetation within steps of a secreted hot tub.  We had arrived!

An image of Jean at the entrance gate to the Waitakere Ranges hiking trails, New Zealand.

After getting settled and having a restorative cup of tea, Bob and I set off for the Arataki Visitor Centre, the official gateway to Waitakere Ranges Regional Park.

An image of a Kauir tree in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park near Auckland, New Zealand.

Protecting the ancient kauri trees from a disease known as kauri dieback is taken very seriously in New Zealand.

An image of a footwear cleaning station at the entrance to the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park near Auckland, New Zealand.

It is necessary to clean your footwear before and after hikes so that spores of the disease are not spread.  Cleaning stations provide stiff bristles and disinfectant spray for the soles of your shoes.

An image of a hiking trail in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park near Auckland, New Zealand.

The Arataki Visitor Centre is the hub for a number of trails, so Bob and I elected to follow an easy, short trail in light of our exhaustion.

An image of a stream and forest in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park near Auckland, New Zealand.

It was refreshing to be out in the rainforest soaking up the sights and smells.

An image of a tui bird singing in a tree at the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park near Auckland, New Zealand.

A very vocal Tui kept to the shadows in the treetops,

An image of a tui sitting on a plant at the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park near Auckland, New Zealand.

and back at the parking lot, we were kept occupied for a good 45 minutes trying to keep up with a Tui…

An image of a tui sipping nectar from a flower at the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park near Auckland, New Zealand.

that was sipping nectar from the flowers of the Rewarewa Tree and New Zealand Flax.

An image of a New Zealand Pigeon sitting on a tree at the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park near Auckland, New Zealand.

Bob and I had to go out again that evening for dinner in the nearby village of Piha, and as dusk settled quietly over the land, a Kereru or New Zealand Pigeon prepared to roost for the night.  That roadside sighting was the last for our first day on the North Island.  We were off to a good start.

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