Wednesday, January 1, 2014
30 December 2013: Tiritiri Matangi island science reserve
Day 2 of our trip had us visit the off-shore scientific research reserve called Tiritiri Matangi. We caught the Tiri Kat ferry from Auckland Harbour in the morning and made the 1.5 hr trek to the island. After a quick greeting from the Department of Conservation (DoC) ranger, Jason, we were met by our personal guides, Simon & Morag Fordham. Simon & Morag have been volunteers on Tiritiri for the last 17 years and are part of the 'Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi' group that help care for the island and its native plants and animals. Our tour worked its way down a coastline where Simon described the origins of New Zealand and the organisms that evolved on the islands over the last 80 million years. We were fortunate enough to see a nesting Variable Oystercatcher female brooding her eggs in a nest right on the beech! Mom patiently watched as we all snapped some amazing pictures of this species of concern. From the beach, we wove through native stands of trees and shrubs, looking for and listening to the chattering of the North Island Saddleback, Whiteheads feeding their begging offspring, and inquisitive Bellbirds visiting a nectar feeder designed by Simon. It was a great tutorial on the flora and fauna of Tiritiri and it was impressive to hear about the extraordinary efforts made by the grassroots 'Supporters' organization. Our group then moved onto the beach for a little dip before we headed back to Auckland for dinner and work on daily journals. It was a fantastic day!