Close Encounters of the Bird Kind
Matthew and I met some delightful winged New Zealanders during our recent South Island trip. Some of them were natives while others were immigrants. Here are a few of those encounters; some composed with time to spare, others nabbed on the go – all photographed with love and respect.
09.02.17: We begin on the east coast of the South Island…
A southern black-backed gull and his shadow add to the horizontals on Birdlings Flat beach.
On the stones a juvenile white-fronted tern and I regard one another.
12.02.17: Further south at Waitati near Dunedin…
A tui leaps out of a bush. Tui are also known as parson birds because of the white ‘clerical’ feathers at their throats.
14.02.17: Makarora is a forest-and-mountain place deep within the South Island, towards the west coast…
Fantails are tiny birds and extremely fast. This wee bird leads me on a merry chase, dancing all around me, making it almost impossible to capture an image.
A look straight in the eye for a split second – and then – off again, flitting in every direction.
Another tiny forest bird is the South Island tomtit…there one second, gone the next.
A sweet-voiced New Zealand bellbird feeds from a flowering flax bush.
One of the more colourful native birds is the wood pigeon…a perfect accompaniment to any tree blooming with fruit or berries.
Some New Zealand birds are hard to see, being shy and well camouflaged. I nearly miss this bellbird – who I think is a fledgling.
“Where’s Waxeye?” Another great example of camouflage. Sometimes I think I am alone, only to turn and see that I am being watched by a small pair of eyes.
Tui are most excellent singers. They pick up the sounds they hear (such as telephone rings or machinery noises) and incorporate them into their complicated repertoire. I stand quietly and listen to this tui – in awe – for several minutes.
Tui are striking to look at as well as listen to. They rush through the trees chasing one another at terrific speed. It looks as if they are having a good time.
A wood pigeon has a whole plum in his beak. And then he swallows it in one gulp…just like that.
15.02.17: We go through Haast Pass to Bruce Bay on the exposed west coast …
A pipit on the shore where river meets sea at Bruce Bay. All along this walk are blackberry bushes (blackberries on photo’s left). I eat blackberries as I wander along.
Southern black-backed gulls are elegant large seagulls, rather like mini albatross.
Water-splash! These waves are pounding in like fists, but the gull is perfectly at home. (And what is a bit of splashing water to a gull anyway?)
16.02.17: At sublime Lake Matheson near Fox Glacier…
A pukeko is a New Zealand swamp hen. The colouring is attention-grabbing, the very opposite of camouflage.
We notice that the pukeko uses its feet like tools – in the gathering and consuming of food.
The chaffinch is an introduced bird, brought over from Europe in the 1860s.
THE END – but not the end. Back home in Fremantle, Western Australia – and the birds are great here as well…
A couple of crested terns down at the port, photographed just a few hours ago.
“Thank you, Birds!”
Afterword: Wherever in the world you are reading this from, next time you step out of the house or apartment listen to your local bird sounds. We all take them for granted. Because I’ve been working on this post for a couple of days, I am suddenly aware of the bird tweets, cheeps, trills, warbles, chatter, squawks, cries, honks, quacks, shrieks, hoots and melodious song around my home. You can’t imagine a world without birds. So tune your ears to their frequency…and be thankful.