Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Paradiso- Old Years Day -1

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Then there were two!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

It's Christmas

Well that’s it folks, another year has sailed past. It’s been a good one and here’s hoping that 2014 will be even better.

With the move and big change next year my creative email may be out of action so just use my Google mail address, that’s the one I used during my UK travels.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chenier at Shoal Bay

What has Shoal Bay in common with Miranda? Both have Chenier beaches. That is raised shell beaches formed by long shore drift depositing shells over mud.

 This is a very rare feature and there are said to be only 12 worldwide. http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/factsheets/rare-ecosystems/coastal/shell-barrier-beaches-chenier-plains   Miranda is the largest in NZ and we have several in the Shoal bay area.
 More to follow..........

Sunday, December 8, 2013

VOC Success

Do you remember my September 10th blog entry 'Love is in the air' ?Well today I saw the results, three very young Variable Oystercatcher chicks which I would judge to be just a few days old.

 They were at the waters edge just
below a shell bank at Shoal Bay with an anxious mum watching over them that is the bird on the right.

Oystercatchers make good parents and I have been watching them North of Auckland on the East coast each week this season. The father in this case seemed less concerned about my presence. So far all good but its early days, these chicks are vulnerable to cats, rats, dogs and overhead predation by hawks and black backed gulls. I wish them luck and will be checking on their progress regularly.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


What is it about November? Some you gain some you lose, that’s friendships over time. As my friend Margi says "Friends are for a Reason a Season or Forever."

I seem to meet such interesting people in November usually in the great outdoors usually on a beautiful beach. Last November was no exception. We have just celebrated a year of friendship, with interesting fun times walking, birding, kayaking the coast and exploring bush reserves.

 I look forward to another season and thank all friends for their continued fun and for just being their wonderful selves. Don’t ask me what this photo was about I really can’t remember. It was simply about just being there.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hauturu (Little Barrier Island)

At last!  I have been trying to get to Hauturu for some time but last year each time we got close the weather turned and the boat was cancelled and its quite a mission to get permits and all your gear through the quarantine process which is designed to protect this amazing Island. However it was worth waiting for.

 Richard and Leigh, the Department of Conservation Rangers with their two children were at the formidable pebble beach to meet us as we landed in small groups trying to avoid the occasional incoming wave.

Hauturu has over 400 species of plants and is home to more endangered bird species than any other place in New Zealand.  Leigh likened Hauturu to Galapagos in terms of importance and significance on a World scale as far as the range of incredible wildlife to be found.

Thanks to Sally everything was very well organised and thanks to someone else the weather was absolutely perfect.  We had a marvellous day and thanks to Lyn too for the beautiful guided bush walk. We saw kaka flying overhead and whiteheads, bellbirds, saddleback and heard kakapo, kokako and long-tailed cuckoo.  We also saw young tuatara and the amazing wetapunga which as you can see is a huge insect much larger than a mouse, here is one sitting on Leigh's wrist.

More to follow... Photos at this link http://creativemomentsimages.co.nz/library/hauturuNov2013/


Wednesday, November 13, 2013


A quick visit to Muriwai not so much for the gannets but to visit family who are settling into their new house above the cliffs and the gannet colony.

Just  had to have a look at the birds and then became engrossed in the white-fronted terns catching fish and feeding their partners high on the cliffs next to the gannets.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fantail with History at Tuff Crater

Today I was pleased to catch a glimpse of a familiar to me, male banded (ringed) fantail, at Tuff crater.

I first saw this bird on the 10th July 2012. I sent photos showing the bands to Massey University to find out any information regarding its history.

  A researcher at Massey  sent me the details that this bird was born on the 14th November 2011 in a nest that had been found in a garden at the edge of Tuff Crater on the 21st of October 2011.

 There had been two male chicks and two female chicks born. The fledged banded bird was then last seen on the 3rd of December 2011.
 I again came across this bird on the 5th March 2013 and sent further photos to Massey and the researcher noticed from the photos  that its left foot was damaged.

However it appears to be still OK because it was with another fantail this morning that delighted me with its frequent visits (every two to four minutes) to this little nest as it added more material to the build.

 I will keep an eye on it and hopefully we will see eggs laid and chicks hatched if all goes well.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Labour day

A full day on the East coast looking for dotterel nests and watching Fairy Tern, Oystercatcher,  pied stilts and Caspian Tern.

 Another season begins as nest scrapes are set down and courtship displays entertain.

This dotterel had an amazingly well concealed nest. Rather than the usual shallow scrape in open sand and I was only able to detect it by watching the parent bird for sometime.

 It was not the usual dotterel with alarms and feigning death and broken wings to distract. It was quiet and just went around in a few circles then eventually settled onto its nest which had three eggs.

The Fairy Tern seemed to to have some courtship display chasing high into the sky then settling back onto the sand away from each other.

 The male then catching a fish in return for the chance to mate. I guess that is the Fairy Tern male way of gaining brownie points.

 I rather like it except that I've never really been any good at catching fish.

It is good to be back and to enjoy another season of friendship shared on our beautiful East coast beaches.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Alien Invasion- 'War of the Worlds'

A blast from the past. The Lightbox Gallery in Surrey are running an exhibition on alien invasions.  My connection being that I photographed scenes around Horsell Common where HG Wells landed his tripod fighting machines from Mars that then proceeded to destroy the surrounding area in his famous book The 'War of the Worlds'

  They have asked for permission to use the photos in their exhibition which will run from October to January.

I'm a great HG fan and at the moment I am working my way through another of his books. It has the unlikely title of 'Love and Mr Lewisham'. It's a love story and shows just how versatile Wells writing could be.

This tripod statue made of stainless steel is set in a street of the local town of Woking that was destroyed by these machines.

Check out this link to see details of the Lightbox exhibition.  http://thelightbox.org.uk/events1/october2013/15oct19janalieninvasion

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rangitoto Station

I have just returned from Rangitoto Station in the Waikato, not to be confused with Rangitoto Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

  Its a wild and beautiful regenerating bush area owned and managed by the New Zealand Native Forests Restoration Trust (NZNFRT). I was recently asked if I would help them out with bush photos for a banner slide show for their new website.  I was of course also interested to stay at one of their forests too.

 This trip, organised by the North Shore forest and Bird branch was quite an adventure and great fun and getting up at dawn in the hope of seeing Kokako but certainly hearing them was the focus of the trip.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Swallows and Amazons

On Monday we kayaked to a small Island to see if it had the potential to make a more attractive nesting site for birds.
On paddling to the beach we found a dead Caspian tern with no signs of a reason for its demise.

Later returning to the car we had to haul the kayak back across the emptied estuary. I pondered on the distance I had dragged this kayak over time and believe its probably more than I have actually paddled it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tiritiri Matangi Island

I'm just off the boat from Tiri having enjoyed some time again staying on the Island. My purpose on  this visit was to photograph birds feeding, some on the nectar of spring flowers, which also expanded to birds preparing their nests in the case of a particularly engaging fernbird.

 I saw kokako each day and I think this is because some time ago on a previous visit to Tiri with a friend, she encouraged me to listen for the birds and this really is the key to then observing them. That's certainly  the case for this little elusive fernbird that I observed for several hours over two days as it collected feathers for a nest well hidden below the muehlenbeckia and bracken.

More  photos.... Tiri library October 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Orchids or 'awkwards' as I prefer to call them because they are so difficult to photograph. They are so small and tricky to show off their features effectively and there is always a breeze in the bush the moment I start to use the camera. Then of course you have to find them to begin with. Yesterday there were heaps around, Pterostylis agathicola in little groups.
Recovering from Man Flu, so I was unsure if a six hour trek in  bush terrain was a good idea but  soon was distracted by the beauty around and although without a map I trusted my companion with her GPS to make sure we were not going around in circles.

 The purpose of todays trek was to check out possible sites for more predator traps.

After crossing this stream several times we found the perfect spot for a picnic lunch  and Wow, the beautiful waterfall nearby. This is Hochstetter and Kaka habitat but we saw neither today.

We came out of the bush late afternoon and settled for an ice cream before heading to Brick bay where to my delight I spotted a bellbird feeding on watsonia flowers. It was a dark olive green with that unmistakable long beak that entered the flowers seeking nectar. This is my first sighting of a non captive bird on the mainland. Very likely from Tiritiri Matangi Island???

Saturday, September 21, 2013


What an interesting property this is, owned by Cynthia and James, who were the perfect hosts today allowing us a free rein of their wonderful bush property above Hatfields beach.

 The site has been owned by the Mackenzie family for 83 years with the fast disappearing habitat dubbed gumland scrub. There are some very interesting orchids and I have never seen so many sundew plants before.

 Photos and more to follow..............

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Helican!

Six Pelican at Waipu - Saturday 14th September

A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week
But I'm damned if I see how the helican!
Dixon Lanier Merritt

Yesterday we began our walk with a tasty chocolate brownie from the local store which was to see us through until a picnic lunch at the end of the spit.

It was good to see six Pelicans in the distance on the far side of the river at Waipu. About a week ago five flew over Pakiri. 
These birds from Australia arrived in New Zealand under their own steam so they become Natives to add to our biodiversity.

Ice plant is everywhere and other invasive plants above the sarcocornia and marsh rush. Just a few patches  of coastal ribbonwood so not much cover for banded rail . I love this saltmarsh habitat.

We saw Harrier circling overhead and Paradise ducks too. Just three pairs of dotterel and one single. Some of the birds are banded. I photographed these to pass on the information.(A more recent visit has counted 11 pairs across the area). A Caspian tern did a flyby searching the river for fish. At the mouth of the estuary about 30 black backed gulls were feeding. A skylark sang to us from high in the sky.

Today had a cool sharp  South Westerly breeze which seemed to swing around to a North North Westerly at times. However the rain kept off until we were within running distance of the car, left at the car park at Waipu. Then time to dry off during the drive home to look forward to a warm by the fire.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Love is in the Air

This sequence of photographs of copulating Variable Oystercatchers was taken today about an hour and a half after high tide on a shell bank at Shoal bay

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hauraki Gulf Forum

I have just returned as a representative for the North Shore branch of  Forest and Bird from  the all day Hauraki Gulf Forum and the evening launch of the Sea Change Spatial plan. These events were  held at Auckland  Museum. .

This was an all day event outlining the way forward for planning and management of a range of activities including protecting the special environment of the Hauraki Gulf . The tool to do this is the Spatial plan which is to be called Sea Change and this was launched this evening by Nick Smith.

Spatial plans have been used overseas and their objective is to involve all stakeholders  in the  planning and management of important areas rather than leaving that entirely to market forces.

At the end of the Forum it was time for the  Jim Holdaway awards for leadership which went to

 Dr Rochelle Constantine for her advocacy for the Hauraki Gulf Brydes whale population.

Keith Woodley for encouraging awareness of the shorebirds of the Firth of Thames and the environment on which they depend.

 Chris Gaskin for his advocacy for seabirds and conservation and notably the recent research project  that confirmed the breeding place of the NZ storm petrel

 Photos and more to follow.....................

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tiri with the Auckland Museum

What a great idea to bring the experts from the Auckland  museum to Tiri and have them lead groups around the island for visitors interested in botany, ornithology, archaeology, entomology and marine (rocky shore) life.

I decided to join the marine and entomology groups and thoroughly enjoyed a different take on the Islands natural history.

 More to follow............