Friday, 10 October 2014

Pied Shags

                Takeoff and Landing, a pied shag in breeding colours.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Gull versus Heron

  In this sequence of photos I captured a gull getting territorial over a rock near the Whakatane Rivermouth. A white-faced Heron had landed on the rock and the gull took exception to it and started a swooping attack on the Heron. There was only so much the heron was going to take though and after what was essentially only a few seconds the heron started to fight back. In the final image I'm not sure if the heron was chasing the gull or just leaving the premises.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Kingfishers and crabs

The past week I have become enchanted with Kingfishers. They've always been an elusive subject but with my new camera and 150-600mm lens I finally feel like I can do them justice. A breeding pair of them feed at low tide in an area near the childrens playground at the Whakatane Heads, the male brightly coloured and bolder in attitude too. Their main food source right now is crabs which they are catching in abundance. They catch the crab in their substantially sized beak and the first mission is to break enough of its legs to enable it to be swallowed. This they do by bashing the crab violently against a rock. I have photographed this action and noticed that while they are doing this the nictitating membrane  covers the eye to protect it. This is a translucent membrane that acts as a third eyelid to protect the birds eye, in this case protection from flying crabs legs! It accounts for the strange look in the kingfishers eye in photo number 4 and gives the appearance that the bird is blind. I can assure you this is not the case and they have excellent eyesight!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Cemetery Cicadas

Yesterday I met Mum at a special place I know where the cicadas are super abundant. The spot is a cemetery with a large grove of some lovely tall trees and the noise of cicada song is deafening. I was collecting the skins the cicada pupae moult when they emerge from the ground and become adults. We "picked" cicadas for an hour or so filling plastic shopping bags with the little buggers. They are resources for future artworks - I have done quite a series using them as my chosen material. When we finished we celebrated with a picnic of cold chicken. While eating I contemplated and realised it's not everyone's Mum who would help pick cicada skins (but I must admit it's not the worst thing she has been roped into.)              
I photographed these as I realised they represent at least 3 or 4 different species. The tiny one I have never come across before and only measured around 15mm, half the size of the largest cicada.

My "Cicada Tree" above was a work I completed last year as part of my Advanced Diploma.

Monday, 3 February 2014

White Godwit

Every year around September/October the Ohiwa Harbour receives up to 3,00 visitors from Siberia. They fly direct on a journey that takes them 9 days and during that time they don't stop to eat or drink. They are Bar-tailed Godwits and they make the longest journey of any migratory bird. Once they arrive at Ohiwa they spend the summer getting fat on the abundance of molluscs and worms that thrive in the shallow waters of the estuary.
  Late last year I received a phone call from my friends Meg and Mike who live overlooking the harbour to say there was a white Godwit among the flock. They kindly lent me a kayak and I paddled off at high tide to get some photos. The birds disperse to feed at low-tide and during high tide they park up in a large flock on the sand spit to rest.
  It wasn't easy getting the photos as the white bird was right in the centre of the group. When I finally got a little close and spooked them into flight I noticed the pale godwit did have some colouring so it confirmed that the specimen was an example of Leucism rather than Albinism. In albinos there is a total absence of pigment and these individuals tend to be less robust in terms of health. This white bird looked to be in fine form, a very healthy Godwit and quite beautiful.
                           Ohiwa Harbour
                            White Godwit
                            Black backed Gull
                            White faced Heron and Shag
                            A Godwit wearing a leg band. (AHS)
                              Godwit food! (yuck)

Mangrove Seeds

I helped Troy out on a photo shoot on the Ohiwa Harbour yesterday. It was low tide and I collected a handful of mangrove seeds. There are lots of mangroves in the harbour, so many they have started silting parts of the estuary up.
Now and then they are cut back to keep them in check. They spread when their seeds float away on the tide and are washed up on the mudflats, little green explorers in search of new lands.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Weta leaves

I've been playing around with these large leaves. I have created a couple of these wetas and I'm thinking a number of them would look good together. I like that there is a certain unpredictability about the leaf - what will happen when it dries and turns brown? How will it look? Will it crinkle and warp?
  The shape of the insect is part of the leaf with the negative spaces reminiscent of the holes insects make when the leaf is chewed. A bit of fun to create.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Collections, Series II

My work "Collections, Series II" has been selected and hung as a finalist in the Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Awards for 2014. Yay! I didn't feel I could handle a large canvas when I began it in December so I decided to paint a collection of found objects and work on them as separate little paintings. It earned the nickname "liddle fings" and I collected up shells, bones, feathers, moths, seeds.......all the little scraps of interestingness that you find while wandering the wild areas and parks, even the back yard. And then I decided I had to include some little nasties. Objects made of plastic and other pollutants that are always there among the shells on the beach or wherever you are. I included only 3, a plastic peg, a battery and a cigarette lighter. These three represent the insidious waste products we manufacture every day to poison out earth. I didn't want them to be too overbearing so they are carefully placed within the composition. There are 81 little canvases, each 3 inches wide by 3&3/4 inches high. The image below doesn't include the frame as I photographed it before I took it to my framer. I've also included a couple of detail shots.
I'm trialling a new website too. You can check it out here.