We stood on a street corner by Molly Malone’s waiting. A car pulled up. The driver and passenger waved to us. We opened the door hesitantly. “Duncan?” we said, and, when he smiled and said yes, we piled into the back seat. Duncan and Dianne introduced themselves, and we were off to the Karori Sanctuary/ Zealandia to see some New Zealand birds.
We’d contacted Duncan through birdingpal.org to find a guide who might give us an introduction to the birds on these – for us — far away islands. Duncan promptly replied, and we soon worked out a mutually convenient day to go birding. Zealandia in Wellington protects birds, many native to NZ and seriously endangered. The South Island Takahe resides at the sanctuary, thought to have died out until a small flock of 200 were found on the South Island in remote Fiordland.
We found the little New Zealand robin to have an endearing look. Dianne scratched the gravel path with her foot and promptly a little robin came over to investigate. The robin became captivated with Beth’s Keen sandal and pecked it three or four times before finally giving up.
We drove on to Pauatahanui Wildlife Reserve and sneaked into a bird blind to watch pied stilts and a pukeko (both are birds). Duncan and Dianne knew just where to look for the 17 new-to-us birds we saw that day. We never would have seen them on our own and certainly wouldn’t have had so much fun.
A surprise awaited us when we got back to the AirBnB that night. Joe had posted one of his Wellington photos on Instagram, and Mary, a friend he’d not had contact with in 6 years and had not remembered her hometown was Wellington, surprised us with a Twitter response. They’d worked together in Washington, DC on the Campaign to Ban Land Mines. We met over coffee to catch up and Mary gave us a quick driving tour around Wellington before she finished her family holiday and caught a plane back to the US.
We’re sure we’ll see Mary again in the future, and we do hope we’ll go birding again with Duncan and Dianne on one of their foreign jaunts. Till then…