Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Albatross Release - the Final Chapter

Yesterday Morning I met Rosemary and Sally on the hill again. Rosemary brought Sally out of her crate into the sunshine where she flapped her wings again...
Preened her feathers again....and then relaxed in the sun...on the ground. In fact she didn't look to me like she ever thought about taking to the air. I started to worry that she was a very old bird that wasn't ever going to fly again. So back in her crate she went for the trip home AGAIN! Oh well, it was a nice morning. Unfortunately today I had to finish an important proposal I have been working on so I missed meeting the girls on the hill. I had just got my project finished at around mid-day when the phone went. It was Rosemary. "Sorry!" she said. I knew straight away what had happened SALLY HAD FLOWN AWAY! I was extremely pleased but bummed I hadn't been there to photograph her.
Fortunately Rosemary had her camera and she took this shot just before Sally gained a bit of height, circled around and over her head then off out to sea where she belongs. Don't you just love happy endings?!!!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Albatross release part 5

Now look here! Rosemary tries to talk Sally into flying off into the wild blue yonder.

Just practising.

She'd actually rather sit back and enjoy the view. So its back home again til tomorrow morning when we try yet again.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Cattle Egrets, Thornton

Now unless you are a twitcher (birdwatcher) these pics probably won't be of much interest to you. I snapped them on Westbank Road, Thornton looking across the Rangitaiki River to the opposite bank where a herd of cows were relaxing in the sun. Hanging out with them were three Cattle Egrets, the first I have seen in the area. They arrive from New South Wales Australia in late Autumn and head back in October to breed. They hang out with cattle so they can feed on the worms and grubs that are disturbed by the cattles hooves.

They were very wary of me even with a river in between us!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Pukeko at the Pond

Rosemary has gone on holiday so the D.O.C. guys are looking after Sally. Yesterday morning I took these pics at the Pond by the skate bowl. Rosemary calls the it the Dyers pond because apparently thats where the local Maori women used to go to dye their flax for weaving. Sadly it is now only used for lazy people to throw their rubbish, for young people to hang out and drink and for the occaisional homeless person to sleep. Oh, and for me to take photos.
It seems this pukeko and her mate are sussing it out as a suitable place to rear their family.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Albatross Release Part 3

It's 9 am and Rosemary and Sally are off for their morning walk. There is a slight breeze and it feels good to stretch wing muscles.
Aaaah, the view is just divine. What a lovely way to spend the morning. Fly? Fly where? Lets get back in the car and go home for lunch. I think fish is the special of the day!

Perhaps tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Albatross Release Part 2

Yesterday we tried again to farewell Sally the Albatross from the Otarawairere hilltop. The light drizzle stopped moments before I got there and the conditions seemed quite good altho the wind was a bit light. A bit of a breeze always helps with lift-off. When liberated from her crate Sally waddled off towards the sea. She spread her wings and had a bit of a flap.
She did lots of preening to get her feathers in order. Then laid back and enjoyed the view. So after an hour back in the crate she went. Apparently Rosemary tried again today but I wasn't able to be there so I was sure she would fly. I was wrong so tomorrow at 9am we will try again.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Blue Kereru

This is a painting I have just completed ready to send up to the "Next Door Gallery" in Birkenhead. It was painted from the photos I took of the roadkill Kereru. It was supposed to take a few days but I underestimated how time-consuming it would be getting all the colours blended correctly so it actually took weeks. I must mention the fact that it is actually illegal to keep parts of native birds or trade in any of their bodyparts under the CITES act, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. You can apply to D.O.C. for permission but any dead birds I photograph I bury afterwards or more often put out in the middle of the paddock for the local Harrier Hawks to find.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Albatross release

I was invited to a bird release today by Rosemary our local bird rescuer accompanied by D.O.C. staff Gregg and James. They unloaded a crate big enough for your average labrador so I knew it was going to be something special. Meet Sally, a Salvins Albatross or Mollymawk. She was found in an exhausted state and Rosemary nursed her back to a healthy bodyweight by stuffing fish down her very sharp bill supplied by the last 'Take a Kid fishing" contest.
Altho to be totally honest we didn't really know if she was a she or he. But definitely an adult.
After being freed from her crate on a hilltop high over Ohope beach she lost no time in heading off....
on foot. And an albatross on foot is not in its element. These birds live almost entirely on the ocean except for when they breed.

So we suspected she was looking for the right head wind or runway. She made her way down the paddock slowly and awkwardly.
Woohoo! She must be about to take off..... but nearly an hour later we were still waiting.
So whether she got stage fright, was still feeling a bit tired or just wanted another day of free fish, who knows but back in her crate she went til tomorrow.

Which goes to show you can lead an Albatross to water but you can't make it fly.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Sodden Bird.

Its raining. Has been for two days. And its getting heavier. ENOUGH ALREADY! I get stir crazy when I'm cooped up inside for too long. Of course I could have gone with Troy. He is supposed to be photographing sport for the paper but of course all the games will be cancelled so he'll be out shooting slips and surface flooding and stuff like that wishing he was home on his computer with the fire going and the roast cooking. But I couldn't be bothered going with him. I wandered aimlessly into the bedroom to discover a sodden little bird on the outside windowsill. A Greenfinch. Aha at least I can take some photos.He has an Elvis hairdo all slicked up in the wet and he is puffed out against the cold. Even my photos are dreary looking just like the weather. Time to turn the roast. (Yup - its chicken.)

Roadkill Art

On a roadtrip a few weeks ago I stopped and picked up a kereru that had been hit by a car. It was dead but the colours were still beautiful so I brought it home and took some photos of it. I think the red velvet really transforms the dead bird into something really ...umm.... well, make up your own mind. Thats what art is about.
I'm a great believer in recycling so after I photographed it I put the pigeon out in the next paddock to be eaten by a local Harrier.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


A couple of weeks ago I started posting my shots on photo sharing site Flickr. I joined the NZ Geographic group open to photographers in New Zealand. As a member you can give out "Members Pic" awards to your favourite photos posted by other people in the group. Once a photo has three members pic awards you post that photo in a special group to be considered for the Editors pic of the week. A selection of these get published in the magazine printed every two months. I was stoked to have a couple of my shots chosen as Editors pics so I'm really hoping to have one published! Heres what the Editor said - AUGUST -WEEK 1 This week goes to the twitchers, birders and those who prefer feathers to fur.A handful of frames stood out from the pool, and none more so than these two from the same photographer, Mandy Hague which were duely (and rapidly) picked by members as well. Henri Cartier Bresson, the father of modern photojournalism is famous for saying that every event has a "decisive moment", and this is precisely when Mandy released the shutter to capture these frames. I just had to skite!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Come on spring!

Despite it being a dull grey morning I couldn't help visiting the river before getting to my studio this morning. I sat in the car and sulked as it started to drizzle. The river was like something out of Willy Wonkas factory - chocolate with floodwater. I was about to leave when a white-faced heron turned up so I waited a bit more. Suddenly an egret landed on the mudflat, a white beacon in a dull landscape. It was too far away, even with my 350mm lens and the light was dreary. It did a breif flyby of the yacht club before chasing the white-faced heron off over the river. Two miserable shots were all I gleaned from the visit. I gave up and headed off and ten minutes later the sun came out in all its spring gloriousness. Sigh! This daffodil glows with the promise of better weather around the corner. A tui visits our early flowering kowhai about a week ago. Roll on Spring!

Six Portraits of a Heron - My latest painting.

I picked my latest painting up from the framer today. Its about four foot high and I'm quite pleased with it. Its the first time I've painted my favourite photographic subject, the white-faced heron. I was a bit worried I wouldn't be able to paint them how I see them in my minds eye.I originally envisioned it as you see it here but after it was finished I considered cutting it up into pairs. Glad I didn't in the end.

Sunday, 8 August 2010


I haven't visited the Taranaki region since...well actually I don't know if I ever have. So it was an adventure to visit this amazing region to visit relatives in Urenui. Mt Taranaki is a grand landmark on the skyline. Who can fail to be impressed by this georgous snowy cone in a classic volcano shape?
Troy and I were visiting John and Chris McLean who live in an amazing house John built himself. John is an artist who paints the most incredible oils and I am totally in awe of his work. As an artist you tend to spend many hours working alone and for me it is sometimes hard not to be overwhelmed by the difficulties I have to deal with. So it was fantastic for Troy and I to be able to sit down with John and his wife Chris and have a good old korero about the whole concept of creating stuff. I was reassured that I am on the right track and I was very inspired by Johns insights. Below is a photo of me with John at one of his exhibitions at the Tauranga Public Art Gallery last year, in front of one of his paintings which is a favourite of mine. He is soon to open an extensive exhibition in Puke Ariki, the public Art Gallery in New Plymouth.

During the day, when we weren't sightseeing we would take a short trek across the McLean farm to the beach. Beautiful white cliffs run along the coast towards New Plymouth. I found a gannet skull to add to my collection.
Patsy, Sprite and Jess enjoy the beach!

By the way, I thought it was kinda cool that John has collected a few skulls too -it must be an artists thing.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Wellington trip - Te Papa

No trip to our capital would be complete without a visit to Te Papa, our national museum. Here are some of my favourite photos. Above is a skull of our extinct Giant Eagle.
Turtle skeleton.

Wallaby & Zebra. Here's an interesting fact - a pair of zebra were imported into New Zealand by Sir George Grey on Kawau Island in 1870 with the intention of breeding the pair for release on the mainland. If the plan had succeeded we could have had Kaimanawa zebras instead of Kaimanawa horses. Freaky thought.

A Weka, notorious for stealing shiny and interesting objects.

Bone fish pendant. A very old and incredibly lovely Polynesian object.

Stuffed Kotuku. Strangely small when seen up close!
That was my top six pics judged on interestingness. Some wonderful art too but I couldn't photograph any of that.