South Island Trip part 8 - A rare Black Stilt

This was hands down my favourite moment and the also most special of my adventure in the South Island. I posted earlier about seeing a Kaki and how rare they are, so this post is all about the second attempt Hannah and I made of getting some decent photos of the Kaki we saw the day before. (Just as some background, Kaki are the world rarest wading birds, their adult population is only around 100, they breed exclusively in the McKenzie basin and to see them is quite a big undertaking. I would have had to travel through the centre of the South Island, and it would be a big undertaking, so I thought if I could spot one at the Ashley Estuary then it’d save me a whole other trip).

On the previous day we had arrived much too late to get any nice photos, so the next day we were determined to get to the Ashley Estuary earlier in the hopes of catching the same bird again in better light. Well we didn’t get there that much easier, but fortunately the lighting was better and as we ventured along the estuary to find the Kaki we talked about how amazing it would be if she was in the same spot as the previous day, well guess what, she was! We were so happy and although the sun was setting and light fading we were determined to get some photos of her, so we crossed the river to get on the right side of the sunset so she’d be illuminated. This made for some nice lighting and highlighted her bright red eyes, she was such a beauty. From a distance, Kaki can look plain black but their wing feathers are actually iridescent green and they are pretty stunning in the sunlight.

After all the effort it took to get to her, and with the lighting on our side, just, we snapped away, trying to get a bit closer and closer but not so far as to stress her out or make her feel threatened. She actually was joined by a Pied Stilt (which we assume is her mate) and also funnily a tiny Banded Dotterel. It was quite funny watching the little Dotterel follow her around, and they did seem to be always close to each other. Without further adieu here are the photos of the beautiful and rare Black Stilt, and following those some nice sunset photos…