We met 6.30am on the front deck, for our early morning guided bird tour at Paramata Lodge. It looked like a good day approaching or at least the birds seemed to think so, from their noise. We began by surveying the scene and immediately recognised the introduced species of finch, sparrows and starlings flying while the black birds and song thrush were on the ground. In the distance the clear bells of the bellbird call us towards the old forest.

As we moved forward our guide Kathy explained the evolution of some of the more interesting indigenous plants and their association with the birds, then we moved through a small mass of regenerating juvenile kahikatea trees that seem like a tangle of dead wood. The forest is dense and dark amongst the 40 year old kahikatea stand where the trees are still competing for light in the same way that their juvenile cousins are on the forest edge. Now approaching the giant 300 year old trees we pick up some new calls. The grey warbler, the tui and yes a long tail cuckoo, but where is she?

We wait and watch. The shining cuckoos return to the lodge after winter in early October and the long tailed cuckoo arrive soon after. The long tail variety is hard to spot but easy to hear. Then there it is, flying from the very top of the old tree. We move on to a clearing and two native wood pigeons swoop over us. Then Kathy stops to point out the rare fern bird right beside but hard to spot. in the coprosma bushes. This is the first year the fern bird is seen near the lodge, usually they are down by the lagoon. They are a declining native species and listed as “at risk” due to wetland vegetation clearance. We note the fantail as it follows us and a group of silver eyes, plus a beautiful kingfisher.

We stride quickly now across the paddock to the lagoon, the ducklings seem to have moved off for greater stream protection, and there’s no sign of the kotuku (white heron), but the welcome swallows swoop low over the lagoon and on the beach two oyster catchers take flight. We spot the banded dotterel and sand pipers hurrying along and it’s time for us too to get back for breakfast. Ticking off a few “firsts”, from the bird list, it wasn’t a bad morning we remark as we sit down to breakfast.  Ask about a bird tour at Paramata Lodge. Forest, wetland and coastal birds can be seen and your guide is very knowledable.

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Kayaking at Paramata Lodge Kotuku, White Heron