Sunday, 9 December 2007

swallows, herons, huia.

Early on in the week I went back to one of my favourite birdwatching spots on the river, the rocky outcrop behind the Whakatane Yacht Club. At first there didn't appear to be much around but then I could hear the distinctive croaking of white-faced heron. There was two of them on the roof and it became apparent they were a pair, their breeding plumage all puffed up. (The longer narrow feathers on the back.)

They flew down to the waters edge so I found a dry spot on the rock and sat down with my camera. They began feeding until a second male landed and was soon chased away by the first male. I was lucky that they were pre-occupied and took no notice of me. Later they wandered quite close and I was able to get some nice photos.

One of the best ways to photograph birds is to sit quietly in an area where they are feeding and just wait. If you are patient enough the birds will wander close and you will be rewarded with some opportunities for great shots.

The family of swallows nesting in our carport has been a source of interest over the last week or so. The babies grew so fast. Soon they could barely fit in the nest and I could see three fat chicks with yellow baby-beaks waiting keenly for their parents to return with beaks full of flying insects to eat. But one shrill screech of warning from a parent bird and they would press themselves into the bottom of the nest in an effort to hide. One day I realised they had taken off and were having flying lessons from Mum and Dad. Just short excursions at first then back to the nest. Then they went a little further afield and would land on the clothesline, watching their parents swooping and diving over their heads. Within a day or two they had almost mastered the speed and aerobatics needed to do what swallows do although they returned to the nest at nights. I'm amazed at how quickly they learnt to fly. The whole family of five were hunting for insects in the paddock, alighting on the fence and the only way I could tell them apart was that the babies had slightly shorter tails.

The Opotiki Art Society has an exhibition on at the moment. I only have one painting in it as I have lots of commissions to finish before Christmas. It is another painting of a pair of Huias.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Electric Pheasants & bunnies wearing birds.

On Friday when I left the studio for lunch I noticed a white faced heron atop the street light across the road. I think perhaps there may be a pair nesting at the waterfall about 50 metres away as I've seen them fly in. I must go and get a better look on Monday. Maybe this was a young one. It seemed very relaxed about me photographing him. When I got home last night we got a rainshower! Quite heavy but only lasted five minutes. I thought it may be enough to green up the lawn but to no avail.

This morning I spotted a ring-necked pheasant in the paddock beyond the orchard. (I can call the side paddock "the orchard" because it has an orange tree in it.) I grabbed my camera and snuck out for a look making sure Billy the kid didn't follow in an effort to suss out the local bunny family. I crawled over to the fence and waited til the pheasant came into view from behind a tree. When he did he saw me and stood with his neck stretched up trying to check me out. I froze. He didn't move. The sun got hot and I started getting cramp. Took a couple of photos. Finally he relaxed and started to move, pecking at stuff in the dry grass. I stretched up a little then WHAM! I felt like I'd been shot out of a cannon .........F#*N ELECTRIC FENCE!!!!!! I rolled around in the dust muttering unspeakable things while the pheasant did a great Roadrunner impression and Bill barked hysterically from in the yard. When my eyes adjusted and I started seeing one of everything again I decided I had better check my camera to make sure it hadn't been fried. I took this photo of a rabbit wearing a mynah bird for a hat??? maybe I hadn't really recovered from the shock as well as I thought I had.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Billy the Wonder dog

Have found it hard painting lately as my studio has been getting SO hot in the afternoons. I had Wednesday off and painted at home but today was cooler so went in to the studio. The paddocks surrounding the house have become a golden yellow and are dry and crispy underfoot. And its still only November!
I put the sprinkler under the apricot tree on Sunday. We have lots of apricots on there but they're still green at the moment. It was so hot that Billy Blue the wonder dog cooled himself off by trying to catch the water in his mouth. Keeps him entertained for ages.
I take Bill into the paddock and throwing the frisbee for him every night, good excercise for him and good practise for me as I am so unco-ordinated and can't throw for nuts. The other night I got Troy to throw the frisbee while I took photos of him. Not really built for speed he can get a lot of air for such a hairy beast. Takes after me I think, stocky body, stumpy legs.....only he can run a lot faster.
If he's lucky he startles a rabbit (the rabbit is also lucky - lucky he's a slughound and not a whippet)and he chases it til it disapears through the hedge. Then he stands and barks as if he's trying to talk the rabbit into coming back.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Californian Quail, Baby Hedgehog

Had a busy weekend. I spent Saturday in Opotiki helping Dad out on his stall at the Trash or Treasure day. I drove over on Friday afternoon and stopped at the Nukuhau Saltmarsh on the way. It was drizzling slightly so not the best for photography. I was delighted to see two pairs of fernbirds near the boardwalk. Both it seemed were collecting insects to take back to a nest somewhere.

On Saturday afternoon I drove home and pottered about in the garden. We have a resident pair of californian quail and I got some nice shots of the male perched on our fence keeping watch as his mate fed on the lawn below.

On Sunday Troy and I went to visit my cousin Pauline and her husband Bruce. Their daughter Michelle showed me a hedgehogs nest that their dog Mitzi had discovered. The Mother hedgehog was half buried in some dry vegetation at the base of a bush and she was feeding four babies. I know they are pests due to their unfortunate appetite for the eggs and babies of ground-nesting birds but we picked up one of the babies to photograph and it was SO CUTE! a funky kind of way. Punk style hairdo and a wrinkly little Ewok face. The spines at this stage are really quite soft. After this little guys photo shoot he began to squawk so we quickly put him back with his mum and he took no time at all getting back to the milkbar.
His eyes weren't even open yet. I guess they need to have soft spines when they are born so the Mother doesnt have any more than the usual pain experienced at childbirth (not that I'd know!) Conception is another matter entirely one would assume. Perhaps the hedgehog is into the whole pain thing in the bedroom just like some couples are into whips and spurs etc........ now I'm just sinking to anthropomorhic tendancies. But enough about that. By the way, these photos are Troys.
Oh and last week I had a surprise one evening when we got home from work. Troy stopped on the side of road opposite our drive so I could get out and empty the mailbox. He turned in to our entranceway on the other side of the road and waited for me to open the gate. I was walking across the road towards his car when a falcon flew between the stationwagon and myself and dropped into the empty drain that runs parallel to the road. This drain is about eight feet wide and about five foot deep. The falcon was using it as cover and flew level with the road like a little jet fighter. I watched it until it disapeared quickly from sight. I think if we hadn't just been to visit Wingspan a few weeks ago I may not have been sure what I had seen but it was definately a falcon and this was confirmed the next evening when I saw it try to catch a bird in our apricot tree. It was unsuccessful and took off across the paddock towards the neighbours where I saw it fly up and over the hedge and out of sight. Perhaps one day I will get a chance to photograph it. Here's hoping!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Mt Bruce

Well its been a whole three weeks since my last blog! But I've been SO busy. Firstly Troy and I went on holiday...well actually we went to Featherston for his brother Garys birthday. On the way down there was lots of snow on Ruapehu and we stopped off on the shores of lake Taupo to take photos of them. I found a dead Koura or freshwater crayfish and it had long spiky blue claws one of which I kept.

Our next stop was the Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre where we were just in time to see the Kaka being fed. These are birds living in the wild which fly in for food every afternoon at three. Actually they get there at least twenty minutes early and wait impatiently in the surrounding trees until the feed stations are filled then its all on. What entertaining birds. Typical parrots, they are the monkeys of the avian world. They chatter, squawk and screech and drop almost as much food as they eat. We were standing right at the base of the feed stations and the kaka were flying between us back and forth from the food to the trees. At times they flew only inches from my face. They feasted on cheese, walnuts, and sweetcorn, holding the food up to their beaks with a foot.

In a number of large aviaries I got to see some kokako up close. What magical birds these are, the way they move through the trees. They leap silently through the branches and watching them brings to mind the descriptions of huia I have read. (Same family of birds.) The blue wattles on each side of the bird face are curious looking things. They appear plastic and are the most unnatural colour. I observed one from about four foot away as it ate a fern leaf. They are the blackest of black around the eyes, altogether a very attractive bird.

From the cafeteria you can sit on the balcony overlooking the Takahe enclosure. Big chunky green and blue birds like pukekos on steroids. First time I'd seen them. I would have liked to have gotten closer but time to get back on the road.

The birthday party was great, dinner at a restaurant then into Wellington to dance the night away at some Courtney Place nightclubs then walked to the backpackers for a bit of shut eye. The next day we drove out to the Castle Point Lighthouse. Wicked spot! There was a huge wall of limestone between part of the beach and the ocean and it was full of fossilised seashells. No matter how I tried I couldn't prise any free. I was like a kid trying to prise off a dollar coin that has been superglued to the footpath. Had to settle for a photo. I found a really cool thing on the beach, an egg case of some kind of shark. I showed Troy and he thought it was weird. The next day we went to Te Papa and in the natural history section we saw one very similar although the one I found was black in colour. I must do some research and find out exactly what kind of fish came out of it.

I got some good reference photos of the Huia at Te Papa. Tragic to see the beaks made into brooches and decorating cigarette lighters.

All in all we had about six days away which was really cool. I ended up with some great photos plus of course my shark egg case.
My blue crayfish claw had turned orange by the time I got home how did that happen?
When we got home we spent the next five days packing our house up to move half a kilometre up the road into our new house! And the next five days unpacking so thats why its been so long since my last blog. I just LOVE the new place. Huge section with lots of big trees around and lots of birds everywhere. But more about that next time!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Just briefly...

Had no time for a blog this week as we are moving house... YAY! Only half a kilometre up the road but an awesome place to live, large rural section with tall trees, lots of garden and a massive lawn for Troy to mow. Hee hee. AND we are off on five days holiday down Wellington way. Going to stop off at Mt Bruce wildlife centre which I'm really looking forward to. Photos coming soon!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Falcon pastel drawing, kingfishers.

Greetings! Wow there really are people out there that read this! Thanks to the artist from Gisborne who sent me a message after the Rosegarden falcon died. I have just given up trying to work out how to reply to her in person because this site won't pass her email on to me. Or maybe I'm just too dumb to work it out.

I have just started a drawing of "42" one of the female falcons at Wingspan Rotorua.

I am using pastel pencils and it will be a slow process as it takes many layers to get the end result. (In this case the term pastel refers to an artists medium of coloured chalk and not soft colours like pinks and lemons.) Pastels more usually come in solid sticks like crayons but I like the pencil variety as you can get good detail. They do smudge easily though.

On Monday I joined a small group of "bird people" to help clean up the Apanui Saltmarsh by the Whakatane Yacht Club. We collected numerous bags of rubbish, a car wheel and a rusted shopping trolley! The saltmarsh is used by a very large number of bird species and it just behind our main shopping centre which is very handy. I often stop off there on the way to my studio in the mornings especially in the winter as we had a resident Kotuku and three spoonbills there. When the kotuku was elsewhere I would often photograph kingfishers from the yacht club balcony. When the tide and light were right I could get some great shots as they hovered for a second or two before diving down to catch a crab or small fish. They would hit the water with a loud "smack" before flying off with their prize if their aim was any good. I painted one at rest in a willow from a photo I took on the edge of Ohiwa Harbour recently. One day I'll paint one diving or flying off with a fish. I haven't spent any time at the yacht club since whitebaite season opened really as there always seems to be someone sitting on the point with a net.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

BIRDSaPLENTY exhibition, Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust

Our Exhibition opened on Thursday night. I spent all afternoon in the kitchen making crostinis and nibbly things. The night before my 10 year old niece and I made cheese pastry and she cut duck shaped biscuits out and Voila! Cheese ducks! We went down to the art centre to set up about an hour before and I started to get nervous that no-one would turn up. BUT fifteen minutes later the place was packed! And we began to make sales. I was so pleased because we are donating a percentage of sales to Rosemary Tully at Whakatane Bird Rescue for the building of some new aviaries. Oh, and also I can pay my rent! We had such a fantastic evening and we have had steady sales every day since with another six days to go.

This is the last painting I did for the exhibition of a pair of dotterels.

About mid-day today we decided at the last minute to visit Wingspan Raptor centre in Rotorua where we joined up. Our yearly membership gives us free
entry which is great value. We were extremely spoiled and given V.I.P. treatment - allowed in the nursery to see two newly hatched falcon chicks less
than two days old! We watched
Debbie and another lady feed them tiny pieces of meat, mimicking the parents noise to encourage them to open their mouths for food. Not that they really needed encouraging, one in particular was fair squealing for his lunch! There was also one more egg in the incubator waiting to hatch. Its wonderful to see these birds in such good hands.

At two pm the flying display started with "Aussie" a male falcon putting on a great arial display that included high speed diving and sumersaults while chasing a lure. Then I got to put on a leather glove and Debbie placed some food on it. Aussie flew in and landed and I got to see him up close and personal! That was such a buzz! Next up was 42, named after the the meaning of life in "Hitch-hikers guide to the Galaxy." She was a large female with pristine plumage and again I was priveledged enough to have her land on me. Troy held her also after she landed on his head at one stage!
We both got some great photos, I really must paint one or perhaps they might make a good pastel drawing. All in all it was a brilliant day and I'll look forward to following the progress of the new babies.

Saturday, 6 October 2007


I can't believe its been so long since my last blog! I have been so incredibly busy organising the BIRDSaPLENTY Exhibition that I've hardly had a minute to spare. I went over to Opotiki on Tuesday to set up and it took about 7 of us from 11 til 4 to get done. But I was SO STOKED when we finished. It looked awesome!

I stayed at Mum and Dads on Wednesday night and got up at six to see if I could catch up with the Kaka at the old Opotiki hospital as I'd had a tip off from Liane at the two fish cafe that they were hanging out there in the mornings. I got there as the sun was coming up and contrary to the weather forecast it was a clear-as day. A bit frosty but the sky was orange and glowing. I didn't want to appear suspicious so I walked purposefully from one entrance along the road to the other entrance. It was a spooky place, more like a haunted asylum than a hospital. It has been abandoned for a few years now and all the windows have fallen victim to vandals and had been smashed. There were a number of Kowhai along the road frontage and I'd seen some photos of them feeding in kowhai in the Opotiki area so thats where I expected to see them if at all. Liane had said I would hear them before I saw them but in the cold stillness of the morning if occurred to me that I really didn't know what noise they made. But I was reasonably confident I'd know if I heard it for some reason.

I was told to expect them at 6:30 - 7am but by 7 I still hadn't seen them. Lots of birdsong, thrushes,blackbirds, magpies etc. There were houses next to the hospital grounds and lots of NO TRESSPASSING signs. After walking to and fro and to and fro I was almost thinking of giving up when I saw a dark shape in a kowhai. A Kaka! I slipped through a hole in the hedge and started getting photos, difficult as it was still quite dark.There were two of them and what amazing birds! In typical parrot fashion they used their feet like hands and chattered away to each other as they fed. I thought they may have been eating the kowhai seeds but it was the flowers they were most interested in. One flew off and the other screamed and chattered away and in the end I counted six in total. I followed them to a ponga where I witnessed one swinging around and around on a branch going upside down and at one stage hanging from his beak only. These would truly have to be the monkeys of the bird world. I got a couple of good shots before they flew close to a house and when I followed a dog about four inches high came out to bark at me. (It had a six foot bark!) I stooped down and called the dog over where I patted his tummy for a bit. When I thought I'd placated him I stood up to follow the Kaka and he barked louder than ever! The birds and I both left, me to go home for coffee and them... who knows. But I"d got a couple of really good shots!
Well its been a busy week and I really want to tell you all about our exhibition which was really cool but I just can't keep my eyes open any longer. I'll do it tomorrow I promise.....

Thursday, 27 September 2007

RoseGardens Falcon R.I.P.

Had a rough day today. Felt like cutting an ear off....(its an artists thing) Put my paintbrush in my coffee more often than the water. And then worst of all I got home and heard from Rosemary Tully via email that our falcon had been found dead. That really hurt! He was so awesome, if only he had flown to Whale Island or something maybe he would have been ok......anyway...what can I say.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Shags, Caspian Terns & Spoonbill

Got no painting done today. I
had lots of organising to do for the up and coming exhibition so had lots of meetings and stuff to do today....Bleuurrggh! But my first meeting was at nine so I had a free hour beforehand. It was a strange misty kind of morning so I went to the river, the Apanui saltmarsh to be specific. I saw a whole group of shags swimming in close formation up a small stream. There was five of them, one looked a little larger than the rest so perhaps it was an adult and four juveniles but I would have thought a mum would be rid of her last brood of chicks by this time of the year. Anyway they were swimming in a really tight group and appeared to be feeding on a school of fish. I was trying to get a shot of all five of them with their heads up at the same time but they were practising unsynchronised swimming! I saw one catch a flounder and swallow it. For a bird with such a skinny neck they sure can get down some big fish!

There were about a half dozen Caspian Terns too. They are the largest of our tern species and quite cool with their bright red beaks. I was surprised to see one side by side with one of the spoonbills. They sure made a strange pair! I remember when the Kotuku was hanging around, from a distance the only way I could tell the kotuku from the spoonbills was because he wouldn't tolerate any other birds near him. He would chase off seagulls, ducks etc. The spoonbills were often mixed in with the gulls and at rest they'd hide their big goofy bills amongst
the feathers on their backs. I never saw the heron rest like that. From a distance they look like they have a yellow eye but the eye is black - that yellow is an eyebrow!

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Fernbirds at Ohiwa


I saw the falcon in the park again today, he was perched in a tall tree where a pair of tuis were swooping around him making a fuss. He was scanning the park for something to turn into breakfast. A fantail flitted around his head coming within inches but he ignored it. I read somewhere that fantails have a flight pattern that fails to stimulate the prey drive in a falcon.( Check out the photo, you can see the fantail to the right of the falcon.)

Finally he spotted a duckling and took off to the stream but he was unsuccessful in his attack. I didn't get there in time to see what happened but I saw him fly off.


I worked on my pukeko collage this morning. Its coming on well but I feel I need more of a three dimensional aspect to it....I'm thinking I need to add some real feathers. I took off at lunchtime to stay with Mum and Dad in Opotiki. I stopped at the Nukuhou Saltmarsh viewing point and went down the boardwalk to see if I could call up a fernbird. I stood at the end looking out over the beautiful expanse of "oi oi" (native rushes) in its lovely soft colours of rust and orange and burnt sienna. I practised my best fernbird call hoping no-one was witnessing my technique. I can't even begin to explain how I mimic the hi pitched "chitt chitt" noise they make suffice to say I look pretty stupid doing it! BUT blow me down if a bird didn't answer me from the undergrowth! I "chitt chitted" again and a fernbird popped up in a nearby bush and sang a song at me (that incidentally sounded nothing like the noise I was making!) I had enough time for one photo before he realised he'd been sucked in and took off in disgust. No matter how much I "chitt chitted" all I succeeded in doing was give myself a headache.

Further on I saw a pukeko dead on the road but it was well squashed. Perhaps if there had been no traffic I would have stopped but I do have some self-respect! Mum and I delivered lots of our exhibition invites around Opotiki then back at the house Mum gave me a present she'd been saving for me - a rats skull, way cool! (Only a special kind of Mum saves you rat skulls.)


Mum and I went for a walk along the Ohiwa spit to see what interesting shorebirds we could see. The first part of the walk was past a whole lot of oi oi so Mum asked me to call up a fernbird for her. We sat down in the rushes and I started my imitation noises. One called back. I called and it called back again then we heard one from a different direction. The three of us had a conversation only I had no idea what it was I was saying. Just call me the fernbird whisperer. We saw a couple of fleeting glimpses as they flitted briefly up from the vegetation. They are so shy its no wonder lots of people don't even know they exist. Then I gave myself a headache again!

I saw some really beautiful shorebirds out on the sand that I'd never seen before. Not sure what they were, perhaps pacific golden plover or sharp-tailed sandpipers? I took this photo but I couldn't get close so its a poor quality image. Can someone please tell me what they are? Such georgous markings.

Didn't see any godwits, I think they were all on tern island.

Saw some NZ dotterels, they are just starting to colour up and get their orange breasts. There were two lovely little banded dotterels too but I couldn't get very close to them.

I found lots of treasures on the harbour edge, a kingfisher skull, some cool crabs and a dead blackbird. I put them all in a plastic bag and hid them in the back of the car than went to pick Troy up from work. I had to spray some perfume around the inside of the car to hide the dead bird smell. When I got home I buried the bird so it can finish decomposing. I'd like to learn how they clean skulls for museums and stuff. But I think they use acid and I don't know where to get that from....oh and interestingly enough, I'm related to the famous acid-bath murderer who lived in England and murdered an old couple then dissolved their bodies in acid. He was immortalised in Madam Tussauds Wax Museum in London. They found him cause the old ladies false teeth didn't dissolve. Oooh maybe I should be worrying in case I've inherited that gene. Some people may think my fascination of skeletons etc is morbid but really I'm just fascinated at how things are put together. I marvel at the construction of bones, how tiny the frame is inside a bird and how that amazing combination of bones flesh and feathers can create such awonderful creature. If I am to paint something then surely the better I understand how it works the easier it is to capture its essence on paper or canvas. Thats my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Falcon update.

I got a phone call from the local radio station yesterday wanting a comment on the NZ Falcon that had been seen in the Whakatane Rose Gardens the day before. The DJ said the bird had been recently released from Whakatane bird rescue so I was a little confused as it had been three weeks ago that I'd photographed him. I had looked for him lots since then without any luck so I was interested to hear he had been seen again....and of course I had to go back to see for myself. After a walk around the park all I saw was lots of sparrows and flocks of yellowhammers feeding on the newly spread grass seed, the usual suspects but no sign of the falcon. Then after walking along the stopbank towards the kids playground I saw a man standing near a pohutukawa of about ten foot in height aiming his cellphone camera at the top where I saw the shape of a bird. When I approached I saw the falcon and the man made some comment about what kind of bird it was, "Don't think its a morepork" he muttered. To be honest they are very similar in colouring in parts and they are both raptors so I filled him in as I took photos myself.

It was nearly time to pick Troy up from work so I took as many photos as I could then drove to the Beacon to pick him up. We both went back and as we approached the tree I saw he'd gone then a movement caught my eye. He was on the ground with a sparrow he'd caught and was eating it tearing off bits and now and then wiping feathers from his beak with a foot. I was a little worried about how close we could get. He paid us little attention as he ate and I was thinking of the black cat I'd seen in the bushes about forty feet away! We both took photos, Troys are destined for the Newspaper. I was surprised to see a band on his leg which he didn't have the first time.

I phoned Rosemary Tully from Whakatane Bird Rescue and she told me about this bird. Apparently he was captured at the Whakatane Council (I'm not sure if he'd hit a window or not) but he was very underweight. That was about a week after I'd photographed him. So he was taken in by Rosemary on the 28th August and after putting on weight was later banded H33442 and released from her Taneatua property. Rosemary then went to Wellington and on her return she learned he'd had a spell at the Whakatane S.P.C.A. Apparently a group of workmates were outside Pizza Hut when they saw a flock of sparrows take flight, one sparrow flew into Pizza Hut closely followed by our falcon who ended up with concussion after hitting a window.

Lets hope he gets a little more sense as he matures. I learned from Rosemary that the greenish tinge at the base of his beak and legs indicates he is a juvenile. The males are the smaller of the two sexes but he is a particularly small individual. Great to see he is hunting well and getting enough to eat without having to visit Pizza Hut!

I finished a pukeko painting yesterday. Just a small one on a ten by ten inch canvas but I liked the softness of the colours of the water contrasting with the bold colours of the pukeko. Amazing how many tubes of blue paint you have to open to do a pook justice - Prussian, cobalt, ultramarine and pthalo blue! Still working on my pukeko collage.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Spring ducklings at last.

Aaaah, the first of the must truly be spring! I saw a mother mallard and eleven babies in the park last week. I saw her again today resting with a baby on her back. I guess she only had room for ten beneath her unless of course the hawks and other predators have already taken their toll. I saw a hawk flying low over the watercourse and I'm sure he was looking for ducklings for lunch. When I lived on a little farm in Opotiki I remember the hens and their broods of spring chicks that grew fewer in number day by day. I heard a commotion one day and I rushed out to see a hawk flying off with a chick clasped in each foot! I took to putting cereal out each day for the hen and her last four babies to encourage them to stay close to the house and ended up with five chickens strutting in the front door every morning demanding their cornflakes!

I am working on a new painting of Pukekos. I am painting some studies on paper then will make a collage and put them all together on one canvas. It will be kind of like my pied shag painting. I enjoy working like this because I can experiment on paper and if I don't like the results I simply don't include them in the final collage. Theres no pressure to get it right.

I would like to include some pukeko feathers I've decided. I passed a dead pukeko on white pine bush road on Sunday, (roadkill victim- poor thing) but I wish I'd thought to pick it up now. They are strange birds though, quite colourful with the sun on them but the feathers on their own are quite dull and lifeless. I always think feathers look better on a live bird no matter what the species anyway.

I've been so busy lately I've hardly had the chance to get out with my camera. The only free time I've had its been raining anyway. I stayed with Mum and Dad in Opotiki on Friday night and learned of a place near the township that gets visited by five Kaka! I was dying to contact the owners to see if I could get over there but we had to get back for a twenty-first. I might see if I can sneak an afternoon off sometime soon.....

I noticed the spoonbills are still at the Apanui salt marsh. I thought they may have buggered off since those noisy workmen have been working on the new footpath along the top of the stopbank but they just moved away a little further up the river into the rushes. They must be off soon to their breeding grounds wherever they are. Heres a photo I took of them a couple of months ago. They look kind of goofy on the ground. They're quite comical creatures but they look lovely in the air as they fly with their necks outstretched unlike the kotuku who flies with his neck folded in an "S" shape. Interesting to note the black tips to their wing feathers. The black pigment means the feathers are stronger and less prone to wear than white tipped feathers.

Til next time...hopefully I'll have some Kaka photos....hmmm.