Up and out, camera ready and heading towards the sunrise kōkako calls

Author: Darren MarkinDate: 21/03/23

Staying overnight on Tiritiri Matangi often means an early start. Up and out, camera ready and heading towards the sunrise because kōkako calls. As always, another exciting day is ahead. I know what birds I’m likely to see but the surprise is to see them in an unexpected way. This is so true of kōkako. Will they be on the ground, low down in the bush, more than one together, feeding, calling, petting ….?? On this particular day, I had been out wandering most of the time.

Once the ferry had departed, I headed for the Wattle Track and sat on my stool behind the large bench which faces the lower/ bottom water trough. Listening for the faintest of kōkako calls. All quiet to begin with. Out comes my book. Patience needed. Several chapters later, I hear them. Behind me, up in the trees, calling to each other, very quietly as they feed. Just the odd notes, but I only need one. Book down, camera, ears and eyes are now on full alert. They are now above me. Suddenly, Te Rangi Pai comes down and begins drinking at the water trough. In swoops her partner, Hemi, very quickly and he begins feeding her the small green berries. The element of surprise is there, right in front of me. Amazing. She soon hops away, along the fence and up into the trees. Hemi has a drink and follows her. The courtship feeding was over quickly. I’ve seen this pair many times together at the trough, drinking and petting, but not feeding like in the photograph. The pair stay around, feeding and cooing to each other. It’s an amazing feeling to witness such behaviour of these birds and such a privilege to be out on Tiritiri Matangi. The kōkako moves on and I’m left alone. Time to head back to the bunkhouse, for some dinner and to check on the many photos from the day’s experiences.

Photo credit: Darren Markin