Binoculars and telephoto lens in hand, we spent yesterday hiking like hobbits through the Shire-ish environs of Urupukupuku Island. We wound to the top of the ridge, climbing alongside cliffs, watching ferns unfurl, and contemplating the piercing violet of the wildflowers.
We enjoyed a light second breakfast as we walked on trails, and had lunch with a few of the locals under a sweeping oak tree.
The birding, as we've come to expect, was magnificent. We saw Australian magpies, kingfishers, and tuis galore. The trophy of the day was a clutch of nesting and breeding pied shags, one of the abundant waterbirds similar in physique to a grebe. We first heard this fledgling squawking as he rocked his head like a pendulum, then we watched as his parent snoozed and he preened his developing downy wings.
The grassy trails looping the island were perfectly maintained, including some historical curation, the flora and fauna left nothing to be desired, and all was made perfect by a day of very merry weather.