I suppose this could be a nickname for me with the name Robin. Instead this title refers to a binoculars-holding, horn rimmed glasses-taped-in-the-middle individual into birding. Today, I might have been categorized as such.
Arriving on Stewart Island (a small, 85% national park island about an hour ferry ride from the southernmost point of the South Island), it took me about 5 minutes to throw my suitcase in a room before heading out to explore all the native wildlife this island has to offer. One of the star attractions being bird sanctuary, Ulva Island; a nearby, predator-free 620 acre island on which native plants and birds live safely.
If I'm being honest, I never in my life thought I would have an inclination to go bird watching. But there I was. Stealthily moving along the quiet forested paths. Listening to the melodious songs, warbles, and calls coming from the sun-lit canopy above. Hearing the deep whoosh of the wings of birds that darted over me before I could identify them. The Stewart Island Weka here. The renowned South Island Kaka there. Of my booklet's sixteen birds to watch for, I caught nine in their wild glory (please wait a minute while I adjust my suspenders...)
And while we're on the topic of birds, this is as good of a time as any to tell you that I am now a proud sponsor of the cutest, snugliest bundle of joy that ever existed. A five month old Kiwi chick! I've learned much about Kiwi birds since I've been here. They are nocturnal. They like to keep to themselves (minimal human contact). Their five species live only in New Zealand. And they are quite endangered. After getting an up-close-and-personal look at these odd-looking, big-footed Kiwi birds at Kiwi Encounter a few weeks ago, I felt compelled to try to help at least one of them make it. Meet Tangaporutu (at just five days old below) who will be raised by Kiwi Encounter till 1kg then released back in the Taranaki forest where the egg was found. My reclusive, feathery, and androgynous (they can't determine the sex yet) pride and joy.
Yup. With all this bird talk, I just may be a little cuckoo...
The inquisitive Stewart Island Weka that will walk right up to your feet
The Stewart Island Robin that hops around the ground
Serene West End Beach on Ulva Island
Thirty of these South Island Saddlebacks were released on the island in 2000. You can find them all over the island now.
A look up at the Ulva Island canopy
Cool mushrooms along the birding path
Stewart Island sunrise
Stewart Island sunrise (moments later)
Stewart Island road sign
My sponsored Kiwi bird, Tangaporutu, at five days old!