Wednesday, April 30, 2014

French kissing - Tiritiri Matangi island

The experience of having an  Island virtually to yourself, shared with a small group of interesting  people and amazing New Zealand wildlife is a real privilege.

Sorry to disappoint but these kakariki were not enjoying a moment of passion on the Island but certainly some affection between a parent bird still feeding their young. The young bird mewed as it looked up  to the adult before an exchange of food which resembled stringy chewing gum, we are still uncertain what the food was.

This whitehead was feeding on inkweed
Phytolacca octandra. Unfortunately not a native plant but one from South America.

Its been a very dry summer and the dams were either dry or almost empty. It was good to enjoy beautiful weather for the week and walking the East Coast track several times it was good to see the little indigenous pouwhiwhi, Ipomoea cairica in flower above Fisherman's bay. This is one of my favourite spots on the Island,

We heard and I saw fernbird each day and at two visits to Te Pa point, one for a picnic lunch I was able to watch for a while but couldn't improve on the photos I took on my 2013 visit when I watched one nest building with a feather in its beak.

Kokako seemed silent except for one day when returning from North East bay, I heard them call from somewhere near the Kawarau track.

On  the last day we were rewarded when two at the top of the Wattle track bounced into a mahoe tree and started to rip the leaves and dry seeds to bits.

Many thanks Mary-Ann, I will certainly consider guiding when I have more free time.

Photo Gallery at

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fishy Business

I just love a project and when a friend mentioned a fish survey that she was working on I was pleased to be there to help with carrying the gear.

This seemed a great idea to actually see what food resources were available in the river for feeding birds especially the terns.

It was wet work  not just from being in the river and crossing the river but from the occasional showers driven by a cooling Westerly moving to Southerly breeze. It was also a lot of fun as usual.

I was interested to photograph what was caught as an aid to identification..

The sea-horse like creature caught on one of the sweeps was just fascinating and we are still trying to get an accurate ID of that.


Thanks to Tom Trinski at Auckland Museum we have the following 'pipefish is in the genus Stigmatopora and is likely S. nigra'

I'm now making a fish measuring dish to help with accurate measuring and as an aid to photography with a scale included.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mr April.

This is my shot of a juvenile female  bellbird taken on Tiritiri Matangi Island on a visit during 2013 and published as the April entry in the 2014 calendar.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Welcome swallows are always fascinating to watch as they cut through the air they are true aerial acrobats.

These birds were photographed at Tuff Crater.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Awhitu Peninsular

Today we were fortunate to have access to McConnell's farm wetland and saltmarsh at Pollock on the Awhitu Peninsular. The site is an area of manuka swampland blending into saltmarsh with a steep cliff on the northern side with native bush.

 Tricia was leading the walk for Bot Soc and it was good to see many familiar faces from different organisations enjoying a warm sunny walk to the foreshore.

Wetlands and Saltmarsh are probably my favourite places to explore and I could have spent all day just exploring the little stream that trickled its way to the sea with red and blue damselfly alighting on the Isolepis prolifera  


Amongst many things we learnt today is  that Tmesipteris elongate is the duller of these two and Tmesipteris lanceolata is quite shiny by comparison. This was a challenge for me to show both in one photograph.

On route to Pollock I revisited the historic kohekoe church, built 1886 and was pleased to see that it was well cared for as there had been some concern when it was up for sale during 2012

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Always as good as the first time.

We're back to our three favourite East coast beaches on a stunning Autumn day. After walking through the forest this vista opens up before us. To me its always like visiting for the first time because the scene is always different. Its a dynamic environment. Today the river looks formidable more like a lake to cross.

With an incoming tide and an offshore breeze the waves with champagne spray are spectacular. We find a shallow place to cross to avoid our usual wade and catch sight of this rare, very cautious and shy reef heron. We studied it for two hours as it stalked its prey of small fish by hunching in the shape of a stealth fighter before stabbing its long and powerful beak into the water.

 Very difficult to get close, I did try by crawling  but it was onto me as soon as I raised my camera above the sand dunes. We also saw the familiar pied stilt family still together and dotterels and oystercatchers all finished with breeding for the season.

Later at the second beach  I photographed this long-tailed blue  and copper butterflies, Rauparaha's copper, enjoying a warm sheltered spot in the dunes so we did the same enjoying our picnic lunch nearby.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dottie at Shakespear Park today

In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.
                                                     Robert Lynd