Highlights from 2014

2014 was a great year for me.
I got shots of birds I have never seen before and I got the best shots of some birds I’ve photographed countless times previously.

I will post my highlights in 2 parts each containing 6 images and I will explain why they were my highlights and how I took the shots.

My first bird for 2014 is a A tūturiwhatu or New Zealand Dotterel chick shot at the end of the Pukehina Spit in the Bay of Plenty .

At last official count, the New Zealand Dotterel population was only around 1700 remaining individuals placing it in the endangered species category.
These chicks are hard to photograph as they are weary of humans and you have to be reasonably close to get a decent shot of them. The result normally is a retreating bird, hardly ideal.

With my careful approach, this chick quickly settled down and it wasn’t long before I was able to observe semi normal behavior.
The adult birds appear to me, more occupied with defending some unseen boundary from other pairs of birds than with me sitting there on the sand all hunched up over my camera.
Constant fights and squabbles were breaking out and the chick was running around keeping a safe distance but actively maintaining a sharp eye out on things.
The end result was an alert chick unconcerned with the photographer close by.

tūturiwhatu the New Zealand Dotterel.

My next Image is a Australasian Harrier, Swamp Hawk or in Maori kāhu.
It is believed that the kāhu is a recent arrival to New Zealand, as recent as 1,000 years ago.

I have many images of this bird but never one that I would consider (THE) definitive shot.
Early in 2014, while being tucked away under cover, I watched and waited for the elusive mātuku, also known as the Bittern, to appear on a lake known to have a few resident birds.
The Hawk, unaware of my presence, flew right up the barrel of my 300 mil 2.8 lens. And to its shock and horror spied me while almost directly over head and beautifully flared away as I tripped the shutter.

The result was an almost perfect shot of a flaring Hawk.
I am over the moon with this shot after having countless failures before hand.
This is a wall hanger for me.

kāhu the Australasian harrier (Circus approximans),

My third image came after a friend contacted me about a eastern rosella nest that was discovered by a keen eyed fellow photographer.
The position of the nest was far from ideal and light was not overly generous.
The nest contained four lively chicks that were never still as mum fed them and my shutter speed was far from ideal.
Trying to time shots for when the chick or chicks were not frantically competing for food, I cut my movement to a minimum. Moving was a test of patience indeed!

Still I was able to get a few good images out of that session and this one below is my favorite one.

eastern rosella

Next on the list is this Pied Shag or kāruhiruhi.
The lighting for this shot was difficult and challenging.
The objective was to get enough detail in the shadow areas of the bird without blowing out the parts of the bird that had sun light shining on it.
I love the pose of the bird in this shot. It almost appears as if it is worshipping God for the heat of the sun on a very frigid morning.

Pied Shag-5281-Edit-3

Grey Warbler or riroriro….Why do I love this image ?
Firstly, the pose is unusual as it is below me.

Secondly, I have never seen this species of bird so colorful. I’m still not sure if it was the quality of the light that morning, if the bird was in full breeding color, or if it was just a awesome example of this species.

grey warbler or riroriro (Gerygone igata)

This last image is of the fern bird or kōtātā.
This bird leads a very secretive life and is seldom seen and if seen, seldom recognised as a different bird from our common sparrows or thrushes.
The bird lives among sedges and cane grass and flies between these bushes in what looks like an ungainly upright position.
The bird is hardly ever still for long and the chances of getting a shot of this bird completely out in the open very rarely present them selves.
So to have one land in front of me out in the open and to be fast enough to nail it put this shot in my top 12 for the year.

Kōtātā  the fernbird (Megalurus punctatus)

This has been fun next we will look at the final 6

I hope you guys and gals are enjoying this as much as I have revisiting last years adventures

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6 thoughts on “Highlights from 2014

  1. Awesome photos and information. I can see why you think 2014 was a good year for photographing these precious birds. Thanks for sharing all this!

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