July is mid winter here in New Zealand , this means our Rugby Season is in full swing and our national team the All Blacks are furthering our designs on world domination.
While most of our country is in a fever pitch, warm at home in the comfort of their lounges, screaming at thier television sets , some of us more hardy souls venture out in the weather, tasting what nature has to offer, while trying to squeeze it all through our lenses and record it onto our digital sensors.
This July past, was no exception, the month started of for me with a Father and Daughter team workshop, at Staglands Wildlife Park.
Corinne, (Wren) and her Dad, Adam, (The Blade), , had booked a sunny but freezing cold day with me .
Adam is a saw doctor, hence his nick name (The Blade) , thats saw, not sore doctor lol .
The Saturday morning started out warm enough in the Staglands cafeteria.
We were parked up beside a large roaring fire, with cups of coffee resting on a warm wooden table.
All was very cosy as I drew diagrams of cameras and explained their mysterious workings and how we could go about fooling them into behaving for us.
It didn’t seem very long however before I ran out of words, coffee and diagrams and we forced to head outside to face the cold head on and try and put into practice what I had just been teaching them.
This was not our first time out together as this dynamic father and daughter duo had booked a workshop about the same time the year before and they got right down to business building on what they learnt last time.
Wren keeps her eye on her target, in this case a Kea .
Mr Mute Swan is always a popular subject for my clients and he was next up.
Sometimes I do take photos of non birds, these mushrooms grabbed my attention.
Next on the agenda was Rocky the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.
Ive become quite good at coaxing him out of his warm nest box, up on the hill above the track . Most times I can get him to come down for a few treats, where he can be patted and made a big fuss over.
Wren and Rocky the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.
Once Wren and Rocky ran out of conversation we went off in search of something else to challenge us .
Mr Peacock has been slowly growing his tail feathers for mating season in a few months time.
A visit to the Mandarin Ducks was next on the agenda.
Soon it was lunch time so we filed back into the warmth of the cafe for a bite to eat and then put in another hour before calling it a day.
This peacock was posed just too nice, to pass up on.
Mrs whio looked a bit grumpy as it was getting colder by the minute as the light was fading, so we packed it in and headed home.
Mid winter at Staglands is a real challenge for any photographer, there is not a great deal of light available for most of the day, however during the summer the sun floods in all day long.
As we drove away we were being watched by a Silkie chicken, his hairstyle is very similar to mine lol.
Thus ended a wonderful day out with Wren and Adam and as they had already booked for yet another adventure in 3 weeks time and I was looking forward to seeing them again soon.
The highlight of the month was to be our pelagic trip out into the Cook Straight.
The boat launches from Seaview in the Wellington Harbour and is the only boat that I know of that caters for Bird photographers.
In fact I think its an unbeatable deal for those living in the lower North Island wanting to photograph Birds that inhabit the Pelagic zone.
What is The Pelagic Zone
Twelve people turned up besides myself, for our event out on the wild sea.
The trip lasts for 6 hours, One hour steaming out and one back with an amazing 4 hours where we would meet up with birds that never come ashore save for breeding which is in the sub- antarctic regions of the Southern Seas.
This trip was going to be the highlight of the year for me personally and as it was the first event on this scale I have ever undertaken to organise, I was more than a little nervous.
I had nothing to worry about as it turned out, as the quality of the people who came on the trip and the professional staff of the the fishing vessel Seafarer II made it a very enjoyable excitement filled event indeed.
Most if not all of the people on board knew each other through my facebook page .
The team for the day, two of which came all the way from the south Island .
As day broke, our team embarked onto the boat, we given a quick safety talk and we were off .
Last year I was invited to go on a trip with 19 other birders out onto the Cook Straight.
I had a ball but with 19 other folks on board, the boat was pretty crowded and most of them were birders but not photographers .
The trip was amazing, but as soon as I got home I decided I would organise my own event next time and design it just for bird photographers and limit the amount of people on board .
I have a gazillion images from the team to post, so what I will do, is post a full trip report in a few weeks time showing off some of the amazing images these enthusiastic people captured .
For now Im happy just to post a series of images of some of the species list of what we saw on our trip.
First up a Giant Nothern Petrel cruised past the boat.
Last year I saw lots of Buller’s and White Capped Albatrosses, but only one fairly weather beaten Salvin’s Albatross.
I really wanted some tidy looking Salvin’s this time out and they turned up in numbers, I was thrilled.
The Salvin’s Albatross.
Next up to visit us was the huge Southern Royal Albatross.
This is the heaviest bodied Albatross in the world and only a fraction shorter in wing span from the largest, the true wandering or Snowy Albatross, by a very small margin.
Still being early in the morning, the light still has a soft pinkish glow to it.
Southern Royal Albatross.
The close up
From the biggest to the smallest bird for the day and another species I desperately wanted, the Fairy Prion.
These tiny sea birds are just stunning and so fragile looking, yet they live their entire life out on the open angry Southern Ocean.
To say I was over joyed with this shot would be an understatement, it made my trip. They hard hard targets to track up close on the moving boat, a real challenge.
Next up was the Black Browed Albatross
The close up
Next the Northern Royal Albatross
The Northern Royal Albatross has heavy dark coloured wings that remain constant through out their life span , where as the Southern has a dark wing that fades from dark to white, from the leading edge of the wing towards the back, that increases as they age, until very little colour remains
The cape petrels were next on the list and these two came round like two little jet fighters on a strafing run.
Salvin’s, I just couldn’t get me enough of these birds that day.
Albatross often have their wing tips dipping into the water.
Its become a bit of a challenge to me to catch this behaviour.
Salvin’s dipping his wing.
A White Capped Albatross .
These little Fairy Prions were a real challenge.
The trip was so successful we have immediately booked another trip for the 12th of November and all ready we are half booked out.
That’s it for this month, I will leave the last word to Mr Salvin’s
Later dudes and dudesses ❤