Tag Archives: fantail

A box of birds

“A box of birds” means happiness.

One morning two weeks ago my sister-in-law Clare, Matthew and I sit outside at Blueskin Nurseries Café in Waitati.  Clare suggests taking us to Orokonui Ecosanctuary just up the hill as we all love birds.  The sparrows watching us think this is a good idea.

Orokonui Ecosanctuary is an ecological island wildlife reserve developed by the Otago Natural History Trust in the Orokonui Valley, 20 km north of Dunedin.  The 307 ha nature reserve was surrounded by a predator fence in 2007.  The forest is being restored to its former glory by keeping pests out, revegetating and bringing back species that were locally extinct. 

The first birds we see are takahe.  These flightless birds were for a long time thought to be extinct.  What a joy to see a species of bird for the first time ever.  Here is the chick!

The following three photos show one of the parents feeding this chick.  Look how they use their legs, scooping up grass.

New Zealand forests are too often eerily quiet as populations of songbirds have been decimated by introduced predators over the decades.  But the forest at Orokonui is an absolute symphony of song.  No words of mine can describe what it is like to hear this orchestra of birdsong.   Here are some of the musicians.   First – the tui whose loud song is interspersed with clicks and rattles…

The melodious bellbird or korimako…who is belting out a tune while I photograph.

I have written a post about a New Zealand parrot called the kea, but here is a parrot I had never seen before called the kaka.  These gregarious birds are extremely entertaining to watch as they get up to their various antics.  I want to capture the red under-carriage during flight but they are too fast for me.

The brave little robin likes to come very close to us because she is after the insects we disturb as we walk along.

A bird who evades my camera most of the time because he is so quick is the fantail.  This bird flits and teases as he pursues flying insects.  Only when he ever-so-briefly perches do I have any hope of a photo.

How I love the tomtit – a tiny bird with enormous presence.

Even when we can’t see any birds at any particular moment, we can always listen to their music.

…and enjoy the scenery…

When our excursion is over we descend back down the hill to Waitati.

A pony walks over to be patted.

A spoonbill flies across Blueskin Bay.

The day is a box of birds.

Happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

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…

09.02.17 : A southern black-backed gull and his shadow add to the horizontals on Birdlings Flat beach.

A southern black-backed gull and his shadow add to the horizontals on Birdlings Flat beach.

On the stones at Birdlings Flat is a young white-fronted tern.

On the stones a juvenile white-fronted tern and I regard one another.

12.02.17:  Further south at Waitati near Dunedin…

At Waitati a tui leaps out of a bush. Tui have been called "Parson Birds" because of their white 'clerical' feathers at their throats.

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…

14.02.17: Fantails are tiny birds and extremely fast. Most certainly this one had a sense of humour. She led me on a merry chase as she danced all around me, making it almost impossible to capture her image.

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.

She looks me straight in the eye for a split second - and then she is off again, darting all around me.

A look straight in the eye for a split second – and then – off again, flitting in every direction.

Another tiny little forest bird is the South Island tomtit...there one second, gone the next.

Another tiny forest bird is the South Island tomtit…there one second, gone the next.

A New Zealand bellbird feeds from a flowering flax bush. This bird has such a beautiful song.

A sweet-voiced New Zealand bellbird feeds from a flowering flax bush.

One of the more colourful native birds is the wood pigeon. I see this bird rather like Sylvester sees Tweetie in "Looney Tunes"- like a live pot-roast.

One of the more colourful native birds is the wood pigeon…a perfect accompaniment to any tree blooming with fruit or berries.

New Zealand birds are often hard to see. They are shy and well camoflagued.

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 at work.

“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 the most excellent singers in the bird world. They pick up the sounds they hear and incorporate them into their complicated repertoire. I stood still and listened to this tui for several minutes.

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 mesmerizing.

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.

You might need to study this photo for a moment. Can you see it? A wood pigeon has a whole plum in its beak. It swallows the whole thing in one gulp! Incredible.

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 something

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.

15.02.17: I'm also crazy about Southern black-backed gulls. They are large gulls, rather like small albatross; very elegant. Here is the second 'flying gull with shadow' photo of this set, only this time over a frothy sea.

Southern black-backed gulls are elegant large seagulls, rather like mini albatross.

Water-splash! These waves were pounding in like fists, but the gull is perfectly at home.

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…

16.02.17: A pukeko is a New Zealand swamp hen. When I was a child I used to look out for them when we went on car trips.

A pukeko is a New Zealand swamp hen.   The colouring is attention-grabbing, the very opposite of camouflage.

Matt and I noticed that the pukeko used its feet in the gathering of food.

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 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 a few hours ago.

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.