Saturday, 28 February 2009

Honky the silly Goose.

Most of my bird photography is done on a small stretch of the Whakatane River above the Yacht Club building, a place called the Apanui Saltmarsh. Its a wonderful spot and the variety of birdlife is constantly surprising me especially considering how close it is to the main shopping centre of Whakatane.

So I spend a bit of time there when the weather, light and tides are right, oh and when there are birds about. (Now and then there aren't any.) Just lately there have been a number of Reef Herons on the river. I have seen at least three different individuals and they are not a bird you generally see often. But this blog is not about Reef Herons. (They will feature in my next blog.) This is about "Honky".

Honky has been a resident of the River here for years and is well known to the locals. He is a big white goose ( actually I'm just assuming his gender, he may be a she for all I know but I suspect he is a gander.) At first impression he appears a benevolent bird, especially cruising along in the early morning light....BUT don't let first impressions fool you. He believes he's the boss of the waterways and at times he is the bane of my life. Typically I am in sneak mode, making my way toward a rare photographic subject such as a Reef Heron or the Kotuku, my camera in hand and focusing on my target when, just as I am almost close enough for a decent shot that bloody goose will honk out a warning that would rival any foghorn! All the birds within a mile radius are alerted to my presence and the cocky little bugger swims up and down in front of me, all puffed up with his own importance.

Last week I stopped in first thing and the light was right, the tide was right, there was everything but the birds. I sat myself down on some driftwood to wait and let Honky get that confounded bugling out of his system. There was a shag feeding not far from me and I aimed my camera at him in the hope he would catch himself an eel or flounder. Suddenly Honky decided the shag was encroaching on his territory and flew at him. I was lucky enough to snap an action shot & apart from cropping the tips of his wings off I thought it made a great photo. Paybacks for all those shots you ruined for me you silly old Goose. Thanks Honky.

Little Blue Penguin in the Whakatane River

Oops, just realised this is my first blog for 2009 and its nearly March already! This summer I've been really busy helping with wedding photography, painting and taking photos of course. Enough with the excuses.....

Earlier on in the month I got a text from my Aunt who was walking along the river edge near the Whakatane Heads. She told me of a penguin swimming near the boat ramp. When I got there I was fascinated to watch a little blue penguin chasing small fish, moving quickly along about an inch or two below the water without breaking the surface. He would get in amongst a school of herrings and then swim tight circles around them until he could snatch one up in his beak. Wonderful to watch in the water! I had to rush off way before I was finished watching him. The Little Blue Penguin, smallest penguin species in the world is quite common around our coastline. The next day I went back and sure enough he was there again. I watched him for a while then he swam to the boat ramp and made his way up the edge but when he began to walk it was obvious things weren't as they should be. He was favouring one leg hardly putting any weight on it and then he just rested while two boats were launched only feet away. I realised he may need medical attention so I grabbed a trout landing net from the back of the car and leaning down off the pier popped it over his head. I took him to the local Department of Conservation office and turned him over to Mike Jones. We checked out the injury to his leg and realised it was not a really recent injury and he appeared to be on the mend. But obviously the boat ramp was not the greatest environment as it was not without a number of risks to a penguin so it was decided he would be relocated out to Motuhora (Whale Island).

One of the local fisherman told me the bird had been seen hanging out in the river for about a week and was even seen up as far as the bridge which is about a mile from the rivermouth. As far as I know he got a ride with the D.O.C. officers in a boat that afternoon. Bon Voyage Little Blue!