Well it had to happen. After the wettest and coldest winter, we finally had a Sunday that dawned an awesome day, so plans were made for our first trip to check out some of our favorite birding spots to see what early spring activity the birds were up to.
Before we headed west along the coast, we did a quick detour into Wellington to pick up a fellow keen young photographer, Arindam Bhattacharya or Ari for short. Ari comes all the way from India and was working in town and had stumbled across Steve’s website.
Ari was keen to see how a couple of Kiwi bird photographers went about their passion so we bundled him into the wagon and headed to our first location to give him a demonstration.
Queen Elizabeth Park just north of Paraparaumu was our first location. We hoped to see Pheasants and quail along with assorted ducks and an assortment of field birds.
The first shot of the day was a male pūtangitangi or Paradise Shelduck standing proudly on a horse fence in the morning light.
Being the first fine day that fell on a weekend for about 2,000 years, there were people out in staggering numbers, walking and exercising in the warm spring temperatures, might be good for them but it wasn’t helping our cause one little bit .
Some yellow hammers took our attention so the three of us stalk in as close as we could and sucked their souls through the view finders of our cameras.
Things were pretty slow at the park so we jumped in the wagon and zoomed north to Foxton to visit the Manawatu Estuary.
The Manawatu Estuary is a Ramsar site of global importance the place has the reputation of producing sightings of rare birds as they stop over sometimes for days before continuing their flights north or south and today was no exception.
Our first bird of interest was a pūkeko or Swamp Hen.
Next on the list was some Caspian Terns.
Foxton is the summer home of the Bar-Tailed Godwit.
Godwits are the longest distance migratory bird in the world, Alaska to New Zealand and a few very skinny birds had already arrived at the estuary and we photographed them as they swung by us.
But then great excitement. As another small group wheeled around to land one bird stood out, its beak long and curved.
The Eastern Curlew is a very rare sighting for the Manawatu Estuary, two years previously we photographed one and it was the first sighting in over ten years so all of a sudden this bird became the center of our attention.
Steve and I work as a team… we work together so that at least one of us gets the shot. Ari was in the thick of it, pretty much caught in the middle. The curlew was pretty flighty but we managed a few good shots before we left him or her to snabble sea snails and what ever else could be found with that amazing beak.
Next up was one of my all-time favorite birds- the ngutuparore or Wrybill Plover.
These birds are at the other end of the friendly scale and will allow a careful photographer within single digit meters away from them.
the ngutuparore is the only bird in the world that has a beak that is curved to the right, its very weird lol
they use their beak to great effect.
Having clicked the shutter a few times, we made our way back to the wagon and down south to the Waimanu Lagoon and the Waikanae Estuary.
I could not resist a shot of a flower. I love shooting flowers with a long lens.
Then a friendly kotare or Kingfisher became the subject of our attention followed by a female pūtangitangi or Paradise Shelduck blowing bubbles in the water.
Next although not so rare at wiamanu was a little shag but of a type that doesn’t pop up all the often.
Normaly the little shag has white cheeks and and a white stripe over the head, this species is all black with a orange beak.
Another flower caught my attention , this time it was a lily and then it was time to head back to our starting point to look for Pheasants again.
I managed to get kind of close to this cock bird before he disappeared into cover and that was it, the first spring day out shooting was over.
A quick trip into town to drop Ari off and then it was home to look at the days efforts over a quick dinner and crash out cold for the night.
Anyone interested in Foxton here is a link.
here is also a link to Ari site.
cheers and stuff .