Welcome to Stewart Island & Sails Ashore +64 3 219 1151 tait@sailsashore.co.nz


By far and away the two most elusive of our local birds are our two Cuckoos, Shining and Longtailed. Often heard, seldom seen.

Last Monday we had a friend staying, and Richard wanted to walk up to Maori Beach for the half day before returning to Invercargill, So we took him up to Lee Bay, via the Back Road, as we wanted to show him the Clematis in flower. A month or so later than we normally expect them, but a magnificent showing.

We dropped Richard off at Lee Bay and the Iris wanted to stop at the SIRCET Plant nursery to see if they had any flax plants for the Church Garden. She wandered in while I turned the van around, and then I went in to see what was what. About the same time we noticed a small bird up on the power lines, and wondered what it might be. Got a bit closer and realised it was a Shining Cuckoo.


Shining Cuskoo, Sails Stewart Island Tours

Shining Cuckoo. These small birds are migratory,
spending our winters in the Solomon Islands.
I wonder if this bird had just arrived, and perhaps a little weary
and so less reclusive after the long flight


Most days when I’m in the van I take my camera, often with little result. And those days I forget to take it, I spend the time kicking myself.  But that day I had it. So scampered off and grabbed it.
What amazed me was that the bird just sat on the line as I walked closer and closer, with the camera rattling away on burst (hopefully one shot will work). It allowed me to get right underneath, still taking photos.

Cuckoos are without doubt the most shy birds we have, and I have only a couple of times seen them, and then as indistinct shadows in heavy foliage. And get anywhere close and they are gone.




Clematis in Flower, Sails Stewart Island ToursClematis draped over roadside forest

Kingfisher, Sails Stewart Island ToursKingfisher at Mill Stream,
Moments after I took this he spotted a small fish, captured it and departed.

And on the way home we sighted a Kingfisher at Mill Stream.

And even though it did come on to light rain, Richard thoroughly enjoyed his walk up to Maori Beach and back