Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Egret Hunter.

I saw the egret again at Awatapu lagoon but its SO timid. I can't get very close at all and he seems to know I'm stalking him. Its not an easy place to sneak up on him either. I have observed him for long enough now to recognise his feeding patterns so I got ahead of him around the bend and scrambled down a bank hiding in the bushes to wait for him to get there. I thought I'd sit still and quiet and give him 40 minutes. After 3 minutes I noticed a funny smell. After 5 minutes I had bugs crawling up my shirt. After 7 minutes the dampness from the ground had soaked into my jeans. After 9 minutes I got cramp in my leg! Stuff it I thought and started back up the bank and nearly stood on a huge dead rat laying on the ground - so thats what that smell was! I got to the top of the bank to see the egret flying past....BUGGER. So much for the surveillance, I hadn't lasted ten minutes! Thats why all my photos of the egret are of it flying off into the wild blue yonder.

The coot babies at Sullivans lake are growing fast. Another coot family further around the lake haven't been so lucky. One of the babies was killed by a pukeko I've been told. They can be very territorial those pooks. Mind you I've seen the coot parents chase bigger birds away from the nest without any problem pukekos included.

I'm happy to say the coots get better looking as they grow up. A classic case of "ugly duckling syndrome" to be sure.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Gannet, courting fantails.

Today was a public holiday but I needed to finish my entry for the Tauranga Art Awards so I went in to the studio. Town was deserted so I made the most of it and loitered around the public toilets again with my camera, (don't be silly, I was photographing the starlings in the flax again!) But actually I didn't get the perfect shot that I'm after.

I was looking through some of my recent shots and found these I'd taken of a gannet at the Whakatane Rivermouth. I sat on the rocks for about twenty minutes and watched it diving for fish...they really are impressive doing this!

On Saturday I was trying to get some housework done when I kept getting distracted by a couple of fantails outside. I chased them with the camera for a while while I should have been vaccuuming because they were so amusing. They are dating you see, the male catches bugs which he feeds to the female to prove his worth and to impress her, and perhaps to build her strength up so she can lay the eggs. When he finally wins her over they go steady and nature takes its course. They have probably already started building a nest as I have observed them collecting spiderwebs for a few weeks now.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Flax feeders.

There are lots of lovely little flax plants in the main centre of the Whakatane township and they are all in flower at the moment. The starlings sparrows and waxeyes are all making the most of the nectar supply. Because they are a smaller variety of flax then the smaller birds can reach to the back of the flowers. (Strangely enough I haven't seen any tuis feeding from them. Perhaps they only like the larger type.)

The starlings are so colourful this time of the year in their irridescent plumage that I have been obsessed with capturing the perfect image of them among the lime green and yellow flax flowers. However there are drawbacks to taking photos in an area where there are lots of people. Firstly, you can be focusing on a bird in a bush ten feet in front of you and not realise that the people sitting outside the cafe twenty feet beyond are feeling rather paranoid perhaps wondering if you are a private eye and if so whose photo are you taking! Just as well I'm not a guy or they'd think me a pervert! Speaking of weirdos there was a guy lurking around nearby, studying me and looking rather suspicious. My attention was on a feeding starling when I realised he was right next to me. I looked up and he said "Is that a camera?" Stifling the urge to voice any number of witty replies I just said "Yes." Judging by his eyes he was probably too wasted to tell so I didn't encourage any more conversation!

I really like this little sparrow with his forehead coated in orange pollen. I then realised ALL the sparrows in the area were sporting orange caps. After lurking among the flaxbushes for three days I read in the local paper about four new security cameras installed that very area. I wonder what they'll make of me......

Thursday, 16 October 2008

BirdsAplenty Art Exhibition

Its been a busy couple of weeks! I've been flat out finishing paintings for the BirdsAplenty Art Exhibition on at the moment. It opened last Friday 10th October and finishes this Sunday 19th October. This is the 2nd year of the exhibition run in conjunction with the BirdsAplenty festival. Sales are down a little from last year I guess due to the recession but we have had good numbers through, about 200 people so far! This fantail is one of the paintings I have sold from the exhibition so far.

These next two are from my "Requiem" series that I am working on at the moment. Huia are the main focus and I am working with issues regarding the attitudes that led to their extinction at the hand of man. I think this is the first time I have really concentrated on one theme and the more research I do the more inspired I become so I will be developing these ideas for a while yet I think.

I went back to check out the coots nest at Sullivans lake a week or so ago. The babies had hatched and I couldn't believe what the chicks looked like! The parent birds are black/dark bluey grey and the chicks come out like little punks with bright red & orange heads - CHECK THIS OUT! Are Coot chicks really cute? Kinda debatable.