Saturday, 30 August 2008

Oil slick and Parrot Pie

OK, OK, I admit its been a while since my last blog but thats because I've been having too much fun with my NEW LENS! But more on that later. I had previously had a frustrating couple of weeks really. The weather had been WET and yucky and I'd had little opportunity to get out with my camera. I went down to the Apanui saltmarsh on the 25th August and had seen seven spoonbills, the most I'd ever seen at once. One was feeding and appeared to be making its way toward me by the yacht club but as it got to where the stream runs out into the river it took off back to the others. I wandered along the stopbank and standing above the floodgate I saw why the spoonbill had shied away from the stream - an ugly oilslick was flowing along the watercourse out to the river! I phoned the pollution hotline and left ENVBOP to deal with it. How sickening! Walking back to my car I watched a man who had been sitting on a bench get up and ride off on his bike leaving behind the newspaper he had been reading which subsequently began to blow away in the wind. I stuffed it into a bin thinking of that tosser on the bike and how lucky he was I couldn't catch up or I would have told him what I thought. Some days I feel ashamed to be a human :(

The next day Troy took me into the photo shop to show me a second-hand 35-350mm Canon L series lens and they gave it to me to try out. Whats worse is they said keep it overnight and bring it back tomorrow. I took it down to Awatapu Lagoon and I was kind of impressed then later that night I checked the photos out on my PC and I was REALLY impressed. I got some lovely shots of fantails in the bullrushes and also an excellent shot of a swallow. Check out the detail in the close up of my fantail shot. But the lens cost $1,000 which I didn't have so I went to take it back the next day...."you can pay it off" they said....."No rush"..."We'll give you a trade in on your old lens!" I thought BUGGER IT, sold a kidney and that was that!

Tansy from D.O.C. emailed me and told me of a Kaka that has been visiting a Banksia tree in Whakatane so I've spent a couple of mornings stalking him. He is totally unconcerned with the spectators that gather to watch him. Flies in about 7.30 and feeds for about an hour, licking the big yellow banksia flowers like a kid with an icecream then chews his way into one or two of the older cones to eat the seeds. The first morning I was there he flew into a nearby magnolia to check they were edible. Just down the road from the banksia is a large kowhai that overhangs the footpath and it is just dripping with flowers. I've never seen a kowhai so full of flowers and of course the tuis are making the most of the opportunity. I've also been photographing a couple of tuis that feed in the flowering cherries at the rose gardens. They can be very posessive over their trees and swoop down to scare off other tuis, sparrows, bellbirds and I've even see them chase off monarch butterflies (can't see they would eat much.)

Its a great time of the year to photograph birds as they have come through a cold wet winter and are now into the rich spring food supplies which means they are preoccupied with food so you can get close to them as they are feeding. Not to mention that other distraction of spring - finding a mate and breeding! A lot of species get very territorial around this time too so are fighting with other birds over food and females and don't really care about me and my camera getting in their faces.

This morning I was sitting on the deck enjoying the sunshine (AT LAST!!!) when a pair of eastern rosellas landed in one of the trees on the edge of our driveway. I just happened to have my camera in my hand so I was stoked to be able to take advantage of their presence as they are normally quite difficult to approach. Quite beautiful birds - shame they are a pest due to the fact they take over and vigorously defend the food source of many native species. To be honest I have a couple in my freezer that were shot by a friend working in vermin control. Not sure what I'll do with them, a couple of times I've almost mistaken them for a pack of mince in my search for the evening dinner..... Maybe one day I will mistakenly thaw them out and will be faced with a tough decision, rosella risotto or parrot pie???

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