Aug 072012

Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island

Morning Mist in Paterson Inlet

Having given my friends boat a run the other day, I had a fit of conscienceand thought I had better do the same for ours. Winter time doesn’t see much in the way of guided walks for me, so the boat doesnt get much running. And if you have ever had much to do with boats they do seem to need a regular run.
So off we went into Paterson Inlet. Beautifully calm, with odd patches of mist. A real busmans holiday I suppose, but also a chance to see what was about.

Blue Penguins

Blue Penguins Rafted

Lots of Blue Penguins, mostly in rafts of socialising birds. . This time of year they are seriously into nest preparation, and courtship of course.

I called in on an old Blue Shag nesting site, but nothing. I’ve noticed that these… our smallest shag…. will nest for several years in an area and then all will up sticks and relocate. So when that happens it’s a big search until I find their new dormitory.

Across at the Bravo Islands a small pod of Bottle Nosed Dolphins came to investigate and played around the boat for a few minutes.

Pied Shag Rookery

Pied Shags rookery in a dead rata tree, Ulva Island

Back to Ulva Island and a large Pied Shag rookery in a big old Rata tree overhanging a small inlet. Pied shags are tree nesters, and when they move into an area it’s the kiss of death for the roost trees, and everything below. Their droppings are enormously corrosive and nothing seems to survive it. The nests are just big loose structures made of sticks and occasionally kelp. They look as if a good shake would collapse them, but they are immune to our storms. So must be more too them than meets the eye. They appear to mate right through the year as nests will have young all seasons, and other birds appear to be brooding as well.

Pied Shag Calls. The softer calls are juveniles in the nest.

pied shag

Blue (Spotted) Shags

Blue Shag in Breeding Plumage. They develop the crest and iridescent patch behind the beak

Round into Sydney Cove and Goat Island off the north side of Ulva and I found a small Blue Shag colony. Blue Shags are my favorite, mainly I suppose because when I was fishing there were several birds who would come when called while I was cleaning the catch outside Halfmoon Bay. They were very fussy, only eating small filets… no offal thank you very much….. and would take their fillets direct from my hand. They would literally wriggle with excitement when they saw the food in my hand.

Blue Shag Rookery. They prefer cliff faces, generally north facing.


[flowplayer src=’http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/dolphin.mp4′ width=640 height=480 splashend=show splash=’http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/DOLPHI3.jpg’ autoplay=false]

Returning back across the Inlet the dolphin pod found us again, and escorted me right to the mooring, and then played around the inflatable as I went ashore.
All in all a very relaxing and enjoyable day.

Peter Tait

Peter Tait

Peter Tait is a professional nature guide based at Stewart Island, New Zealand, and he works primarily on Ulva Island Open Sanctuary. Peter has been resident on the Island for over 40 years and was one time Forest Ranger in Charge of Stewart Island. Fishing followed forestry and was in turn followed by Talisker, a 17m charter yacht. He is qualified Skipper Deep Sea Fishing Vessel. In addition to guiding Peter and his wife Iris are hosts at Sails Ashore Lodge.

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