Fieldwork week 1 day 5
Location: Hina Hina Cove, Catlins
What a place! Besides the very long and a bit challenging walk through private paddocks and over a bumpy, not greatly maintained dirt road, it was a great site. I was a bit grumpy, as we had to park quite a ways from the site. The yutes just wouldn’t make it over the potholes and such. In any case, I lagged behind the group a bit but made it eventually to the clearing overlooking the beach. In the background, fencing was being installed along the “road” to keep the cattle out of the area. Win for the penguins! Again, this site had a small creek cutting it down the middle, although the right side was much steeper and less of a forest than a grassy shrubland. The weather, sunny and warm, made it even better! I went with Mel up the creek side into a more dense forest area. Cattle had gotten into this area and had created quite the mess, leaving huge holes in the muddy grass. We started at the far end and walked toward the sea, searching as we went. Along the way (I actually ended up doubling back once following a track I had found), I came across a nest indicated by blue flagging tape which helped! This was a site that had been marked last year. The handsome male was incubating two eggs. He had quite the smelly nest due to the copious amount of poo but a very nice one all things considering. After marking we kept moving along to limit our disturbance. There was less crawling in this area and more slipping and climbing over vines and fallen trees. It gave my knees a rest though! When we emerged from the wooded area, I took a quick drink and crossed over another hill down onto the rocky beach. We searched the lower edges, and I gave a look into a cave. My partner climbed up the rocks over the small cliff following a well worn penguin path. She found a nest just outside a little hut that was there (not sure what the original purpose of the hut was, but has been occupied by a pair for quite some time). It is interesting to note that while YEPs are faithful to the nest sites (i.e. beaches), they are known to move their nests year by year. Instead of inside the hut, this pair moved outside of the hut this year. Mel also found a nest nearby in the bush by the time I got there. While they were recording the nests, I went back to our bags to get a camera she was going to set up on this nest, However, she decided not to deploy it here, because the bird was bit flighty and nervous. Instead, my partner and I grabbed our bags and headed back to the first nest to put the camera there instead. I knew exactly were the nest was which made it easier to get there. I set the camera up about 2 meters from the nest. The goal is to monitor hatch dates along with feeding times and changing of the parents.
We were lucky enough to get a ride back from the fencing guys in their trucks, primarily because our leader had gotten hurt and the hike out wouldn’t have been easy. However, I was thanking my lucky stars. The hike back would have been mostly uphill and a lot worse than coming in, which was terrible as it was. On the way back to Nuggets, we got a Jimmy’s meat pie, which I highly recommend, before stopping at the Owaka DOC office. The leader of the group had organized a trip to Earthlore Insect Theme Park, but bid us ado prior to this. I’m not going to go into too much detail about this park, but I highly recommend if you have young kids. There is an insect circus/puppet show, frisbee golf, bug city, a food forest, a gypsy caravan that the owner built from reclaimed materials, and beautiful gardens. Plus, two very friendly donkeys. A nice couple of hours.
We had very tasty fish and chips for dinner from Kaka Point, about 10 minutes from Nuggets. One thing I noted, fish and chip shops rarely have sauce- no tartar, malt vinegar, even ketchup. It definitely takes away from the dinner (you NEED malt and vinegar). I am gonna have to keep some in my car I think!
I really enjoy just driving around new areas to see what’s out there! This area deserves another look. Between Nuggets, Kaka Point, and the town of Owaka, it is a nice little weekend getaway. Even if it is just to see sheep, ocean, and live a bit like a kiwi.