by Lew Hore
I have just recently returned from ten days in Sutherland Sound, Fiordland, which has never been poisoned — just me and my kayak from 10 to 20 February 2019. The birdlife was more prolific than I’ve heard and seen in six visits over ten years.
I recorded sightings of twenty-nine species and heard two others — Morepork (Ruru) and Long-tailed cuckoo.
- Long-tailed cuckoo were numerous, which said to me their host species were also numerous.
- Morepork were also regularly calling at night.
The other species seen were:
- Falcon (a family of four); Wood pigeon (Kereru); numerous Tui; numerous Bellbird (Korimako); numerous Weka (in fact they were a bloody nuisance!)
- Tomtit; numerous White heron ( there used to be a pair, but I only saw one this time).
- Fantail; numerous Silvereye (Waxeye) ; many Rifleman, Kingfisher Kea Kaka Black swans — about 50;
- White throated shag; Black shag; Stewart Island shag; Mallard duck;
- Black-backed gull; Red-biled gull; Black-billed gull;
- Variable oystercatcher — Pied oystercatcher;
- Blackbird Goldfinch Chaffinch (feeding on toetoe ); Paradise shelduck;
- Grey warbler;
When paddling from one end to the other, wood pigeons (Kereru) were seen in groups flying from one side of the fiord to the other and many were seen easily against the backdrop of green bush; Weka were constantly heard day and night.
The large patch of rata in which I recorded the great bird song last time I was here was completely devoid of any birds, probably because it was not flowering time (nectar for them). The Wood Pigeon, Tui and Bellbirds hung around the broadleaf trees. The Tui even sang in teeming down rain!
Obviously the bird life would have been peaking with all the fledglings, and the juvenile Tui and Bellbirds were amusing, trying out their vocals with some interesting garble. I was entertained for four days at the entrance to the fiord by the juvenile falcons acting the goat and clowning around. I got some footage of them and some of their antics.
A few absentees
Some of the notable absences were Robins, Kakariki , Kiwi, and Whio, but then in a place where more than 12 metres of rain falls annually, why would you want to live there?
I got eight inches (20 cm) in a day and one night. The colder dark damp sides which didn’t see much sun were lacking in bird numbers.
Nature looking after itself
Overall, the place was alive with birds, there were moderate numbers of deer, I saw one stoat and four rats, and heard possums at night.
There was no forest collapse and birds were more plentiful than anywhere else I’ve been in recent times.
There was obviously a masting of not only beech trees, but berries were lying on the ground in most places and at the base of native grasses were heaps of seed. No human intervention, just nature looking after itself.