Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rifleman Nesting Time Take Two

Well another nesting season has almost finished and at first I though it was all over too quick as I found a few nests that I had limited time with them.
Some of the nests were in very dark places so I was on the search for better nests both in lighter areas and closer to the ground.
I found my first nest of the season 6-7 meters up a dead tree but it wasn’t really what I wanted to I kept on looking then found my 2nd in a punga tree but it was right on the edge of a track to wouldn’t be great setting up a hide there :)

I found a few more nests that were still up too high so started looking at the area I had found the lower nests before, it was by now that their nesting patterns were into full swing and the chicks were almost grown up so one pair had created a new nest in the same area I photographed the previous year "I did check this area at the start of the season but nothing"
So I spent the weekend photographing and trying out new techniques on this nest.
One of the highlights was seeing the chicks for the first time I managed a few shots of them a day or two before they left the nest.

Male Rifleman about to feed chick

At Nest hole

Rifleman Chick

Female Rifleman at Nest

Male Rifleman at Nest

After they left the nest I decided to keep looking around for new nests and about 50meters away I found another one but most of the birds were banded on this nest so didn’t really spend too much time there.
After that the bush was full of baby rifleman around boundary stream so nesting season had stopped until I focused on the nesting NZ falcons.

Banded Male Rifleman at Nest

New Zealand Falcon

It was then that I re found a pair of rifleman bringing nesting material to the nest of a old nest I found on the ground, so the next weekend I went to photograph the nest and no birds were around the area.
After leaving them for a few weeks and focusing on the falcons I decided to check out the nest again and that pair had raised one chick and even better they have decided to re-nest again!
When I arrived the female and male would take turns at sitting on the eggs inside their nest hole so I managed a few shots of them and even better this nest is in the open so natural light could be used.
The next week they started to feed the chicks and the insect gathering began.

Rifleman Wing Blur

Female Rifleman in the Wind

Male Rifleman

Female Rifleman with Horsefly

About to Takeoff

Female Rifleman at Nest on the Ground

 Hope you enjoyed the photos of New Zealands smallest bird.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gone North for Winter

Black Fronted Tern

Black Fronted Tern Portrait

For me winter is one of my favourite times of the year, great new birds in, great light, don’t have to get up as early to photograph around the break of dawn.
I will be doing a few blogs soon but first I wanted to do one on my favourite birds the black fronted tern, they are one of these birds that you can never stop photographing and they are always so interesting to watch plus from June onwards they start developing beautiful colours as they come into their breeding plumage.

Only a few birds come up to the north from the south island during winter but always a great sight, many of the birds come up the west coast and visit river mouths but a few come to the east coast as well and fly all the way to the bay of plenty.
The black fronted tern is a very endangered bird with only around 3.5% of the population juveniles showing they are on the decrease even more.
They breed on the riverbeds in the south island where weeds, predators and floods cause nest loss and chick loss.
For the few that head north it’s always a treasure to find them.

Feather Shake

Takeoff Checks

Coming into breeding plumage

Black Fronted Tern Close-up


Tern Gape

At Sunset


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fallen for Fernbirds

It's been a while since I made my last blog post and I have been working on a few different things.
My passion for fernbirds started over the Christmas and New year holidays away in Taupo.
Normally while in Taupo I like to go looking for Blue Duck and then some of the forest birds in the area "It's a great area for wildlife and for its scenery, I tend to focus more on the wildlife part ;)"

Over the holidays I wanted to focus more on fernbirds this time so I went to some good known spots where these special birds live, I managed to find a few fernbirds and see them fly from branch to branch with their long tails acting like quite a bit of resistance.
So that day I tried taking a few photos but nothing really came out too good due to mid day harsh summer light.

A few days later I went to Whakatane to catch up with a friend, it was very good seeing the bird life in the area and ofcourse more fernbirds at the salt marsh during early morning was very rewarding with great light and friendly fernbirds.
After that it was back home and back to work with no fernbird spots in Hawke's Bay that I knew off besides a hour and half drive to the Kaweka Ranges where there is some and those spots where hard to photograph them.

A few months ago I got a tip off that there was another fernbird spot in the Bay so I went to check it out, this area has a protected fence around it to protect the young kiwi around the lake and ofcourse due to predator proof fencing the fernbirds have increased quite well.
After spending a bit of time at the lake I can now speak fernbird which is a series of clicks, chatters and clonks and seems to do the trick very well.
"There’s nothing quite like a dawn chorus fill of fernbird’s on a misty morning when they are all calling at the same time"

Fernbird hiding in reeds
Life's a Jungle for a Fernbird

Drying Raupo makes a good support

Life is a Balance

Monday, December 13, 2010

Boundary Stream Birdlife

Well most weekends I have spent a day out at Boundary Stream again, this place is a predator control mainland Island which is quite successful and it shows with the birdlife and forest health.
Predator control is going quite well because last weekend I found a pair of rifleman nesting on the ground and these guys normally nest high in trees.

Whats been really interesting as of the past few weeks has been the nesting falcons in the gully, NZ Falcon's are known to dive bomb people that get close to their nesting area and attack if you get really close.
One day I was walking down the track by the Gully and I heard a falcon calling, sure enough one came and landed in the tree not to far from me so I decided to watch her for a while "She must have got sick of me cos she did try an dive bomb on me once and then the male came and did a few low passes of me" It was great being so close to a bird like that.
Below are some of the shots taken, One thing I have learned is to always watch my back because some of the falcon have got very close when you least expect it!

New Zealand Falcon Approaches
New Zealand Falcon

The watchful eye of the Falcon
  Also Kokako numbers have increased quite a bit with predator control their is now around 30  birds living in the area and becoming more common to see them in early morning and evening also I found a nest from last year around by the bush in the car park.

North Island Kokako
  The other bush birds such as Tui, bellbird, Robins and Tomtits are all doing well and nesting at this time, below is a tomtit with a mouth full of insects to feed his chicks taken last weekend.

North Island Robin in Full Song

Tomtit with Mouth full of Insects

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rifleman Nesting Time!

Well recently I have been going to Boundary Stream Mainland Island which is about a hours drive from Napier, its a great place to go to for bush birds plus it gets really good in the summer with lots of bird activity with nesting.
Late last year when I first got my camera I was walking back down one of the tracks and found a little rifleman hopping around on the ground getting nesting material to build a nest, they are great little birds to watch and the smallest in NZ.

This year I wanted to find another nest and spend a bit more time with them, I managed to find another nest because the one I found last year had broke in the recent heavy winds and rain.
Anyone that has seen a rifleman knows they are super quick but a very rewarding bird to photograph.
These shots are around the nest hole with the parents and chicks of last year bringing food to the young.

The Graceful Rifleman

North Island Rifleman

Showing off his Spider

Male Rifleman


Te Mata Peak after Dark

The Morepork's of the Peak

Well it started as I was walking back down from the peak one night as I heard a morepork calling, I thought it was a kid playing a practical joke as it sounded so fake and so close.
Later I went to have a closer look and there sure enough was a morepork 4meters in front of me so I quickly raced back home and got my camera.

When I got back to the peak I couldn't find him again so headed back home after a while of searching and practiced taking photos of trees and trunks in the dark, "even if I saw a bird I don't think I would have even got a shot in as I couldn't focus and it was way to dark"
So I had to think of new ways to improve and how I am going to take a shot of a night bird.

 An few days later I was walking back down the peak again and I had a morepork fly directly in front of me so I thought that the weekend coming I should go out and practice my night photography.

 Once I found the morepork and I had my camera I kept on coming back once a week and only for a hour or two around the evening so flash wasn't going to have as big of effect as it would during the night.

   The beautiful morepork but I over flashed this one plus it was the first night out.

Morepork (Ruru)

Morepork Calling
Carefully watches His Prey

Feather Grooming Even Happens Under the Cover of Night
Also when out and about up the peak I heard moreporks mating quite a bit but getting close was impossible I tried many times, even movement would scare them and they would fly off.
So Lucky one of the pair called in his mate and I managed to get a shot in of them mating but only just because they don't do it for long.

Movepork Mating

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dotterel's at Ocean beach

Over the past few months I have been doing a dotterel project during first light.
I have seen shots of birds taken during the early hours of the morning and what better birds to try it on then NZ Dotterels so one morning I got up really early like 3am in the morning and did a journey to the breeding areas of these guys, its a wee bit of a walk to the location and drive hence the early wake up "but so worth it getting out on the beach and watching shooting stars on the way, plus that feeling that your the only one out there (which I was because no one else is properly that crazy)"

Below is a collection of some of the images I have taken, quite happy to see dotterels mating which isn't something you see often.
Great birds to watch and photograph.

On another note I went out again this weekend but no nesting, it has been a month and a bit since I was last out there so maybe they nested and something happened to the nest.

New Zealand Dotterel with First Rays of Sun

Dont you just love the Red light of a Sunrise

The First Moments of Sunrise is Golden Hour

New Zealand Dotterel Gang

New Zealand Dotterels doing the Business

New Zealand Dotterels