Aris last fling

‘RING RING” goes the phone.
Steve is on the other end. “A fellow wildlife photographer from India has contacted me and I have offered to take him out and show him around.”

So that is how we met Ari from India.
It was early spring when we introduced Ari to our style of photography. At first, I think he was a bit bewildered as the action tends to come fast and furious. We are nearly always on the move and you have to be on the ball. As the number of trips were racked up, Ari had adapted to our style and was right in the thick of it, clicking away like the rest of us.

Then came the days when Ari had fulfilled his working contract in this country and had to return to his homeland and family. We planned one last excursion, one last blast up the Western coast of the lower North Island dropping in to all our favourite birding spots to see what’s shakin’.

First up was Pukerua Bay to see if the Reef Heron was around. No score so Northward bound we headed for Paekakariki to look for pheasants, quail, and whatever else we could aim our cameras at. Still nothing of great note, so pushing on to Waikanae for a cup of tea and look around.

The Waikanae Estuary is teeming with birds often enough that it’s almost impossible to drive past the turn off for fear of missing out on something good. This morning it was quiet but the pango pangos (scaup or black teal ) were in their brilliant colours; and with the subdued overcast light, looked awesome.

Male pango pango

Male pango pango or NZ scaup
Female  pango pango , bit more demur than the males, but wonderful in their own way I think

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/26818251275/in/dateposted-public/

 

‘Clikerty, click, click’ went the shutters and Ari had another new species to add to his photo gallery.
A few Royal Spoonbills flew lazily past us and ‘clickerty click’ again.

Royal Spoonbill

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A walk around the main pond resulted in a lovely image of the pair of Shoveler Ducks.

A pair of Shoveler Ducks

Then it was time to head Northward again to a beach where we hoped to get shots of Black Fronted Dotterals. Unfortunately two gazillion people, including horses and dogs, had decided to choose the exact spot these birds feed on to turn it into a circus. Such is the plight of the bird photographer. Everyone is free to enjoy the great outdoors and sometimes I have less than warm fuzzy feelings towards other outdoor uses!

Back to the main arterial route North and while motoring out to the highway, we passed a ditch.

“That looked like a bittern in that ditch!” exclaimed Steve as we sped past it.

Being the keen optimistic birders that we are, we suffer many false alarms, but we turned around and passed by the ditch slower this time. The bird did not look like a pukeko like we would normally expect.
Turning around, we again approached the ditch and stopped dead middle stream. I was looking directly into the sun, hardly ideal, with the window down, camera aimed up the ditch.

“Is it one?” asked Steve. ‘Clikery click, click , click click’ was all he needed to know.
Bitterns are hard to come by in our neck of the woods. I could hear Ari’s Cannon going off out the back window. Drive by shooting is an art!

Eventually the bird retreated  out of range, so that was my cue to leap over the fence and cut it off and shoot with the sun coming over my shoulder. Steve moved in from the other side and the bird flushed but not before I got some flying photos. Then we spent the next 5 minutes trying to calm down as we relived the sequence of events.

The Australasian Bittern

bittern

The day had certainly changed from starting off slowly into an amazing adventure.

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Our next spot was also kind to us. Ari and I chased a fantail through the bushes getting some great shots, another first for Ari.

New Zealand Fantail 

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It was lunchtime and the most Northern part of our trip. So after food we headed back South ending up in Queen Elizabeth park for another chance at pheasants.

I got a pretty good shot of a pheasant that made the mistake of stepping out from cover in front of me. But at 10 feet away, he filled the frame, no depth of field meant some parts of him would not be in focus.

This time we scored

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/26213881213/in/dateposted-public/

 

Grebes were also a new bird for Ari so I herded one right passed him and he got his shots away.

The Common Grebe

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Next up a Grey Warbler welcomed us.

A Grey Warbler

Next on the list was a mob of young California Quail just about in adult plumage.

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Alas the day was done so we headed back into Wellington to drop Ari off.
We wanted to get a photo of all three us so we asked passerbies to take a photo. Unbelievable, some refused until we got one likeable guy that did the deed for us.

Ari, Steve and myself 

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Ari has gone home with amazing pictures of his travels in New Zealand and we were blessed to have been involved with some of them and the opportunity to spend time with such an awesome and talented friend.

Ari doing what he loves 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/26212886524/in/dateposted-public/
I will leave the last say up to Mr Bittern.

my first decent flying shot of this bird.

Mr Bittern

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Golden Godwits

Well it’s the start of Autumn here in New Zealand , this means that the migratory birds that have summered over here from the northern hemisphere  are preparing to head back to their  breeding grounds after gorging on the summer feast or worms and insects and shellfishes.
The grand daddy’s of the migratory birds has to be the kuaka or bar-tailed Godwit and its smaller traveling buddy the smaller lesser Knots that accompany them .
These birds travel over 11,000 kilometres from Alaska to reach New Zealand stopping  over in Asia for a quick breather along the way.
This massive migration takes them less than 10 days to complete which is simply amazing and during that little effort they will lose half their body weight arriving here skinny and hungry.

A fresh arrival, kind of drab colours and not much meat on this bird
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

Before these migratories return north, they start the breeding colour phase , turning from a rather drab brownish grey into brilliant orange tones.

Ready to depart, plump and Golden
Kuaka the Bar-Tailed GodwitLimosa lapponica baueri

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

A lesser Knot in breeding colours

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/24995456334/in/dateposted-public/

Living in Wellington the kuaka settle into the estuaries along the Kapiti and Manawatu coasts with the majority being at Foxton at the river mouth of the Manawatu river.
Having missed last year we decided to go and have a look at the birds as they will be leaving soon and see how their colour phase was progressing.
Daylight at the Manawatu Estuary dawned with patchy cloud and sporadic bursts of sunlight on the huddled crowd of birds on the tidal edge.
Getting close to these birds is not easy.

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They are jumpy and fly off at the least provocation often setting back down further along the water’s edge.
Hawks circling overhead often cause the whole flock to take off, do a circuit and return to their resting place.

A flock of Knots and Godwits wheeling around to land back where they were resting right in front of us after being put to flight by a Hawk
flock of Knots and Godwits

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Some of the birds were showing quite a bit of colour while others were not showing much at all.
We tried to get as close as we could without causing too much distress to the birds, got our photos and decided to leave them be and look for other birds of interest.

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Pacific Golden plovers were next on the menu and these birds are more skittish than the goblets.
I got a few half decent images before they took flight landing further along from me.

Pacific golden plover-

my normal shot of flying golden plovers, always away from me lol

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Walking along back to the wagon we  counted 81 banded dotterels resting in the sand and among them 3 sharp tailed sandpipers.
The big long slow crawl along the sand was on and I managed to get really close to these birds and photograph them and I ended up with my best shots of sharp tails to date.
Male and female sharptails
sharp tailed sandpiper-

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Banded Dotterel

pohowera  or banded dotteral

It was now mid-morning so it was decided that we would head south towards home to check out some dabchicks that had chicks on the way.

The dab chicks were in fine form and paraded around me as I lay under the wooden hide clickerty clicking away trying hard to look like a support post for the wooden construction.

A baby weiweia or New Zealand dabchick is a pretty tiny bundle of softness

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But Mum takes good care of her baby
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The baby rides mommas back and she feeds it
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Soon it was time to head home, back to the computer and photoshop.

Once upon a time I never realised just how many migratory birds we receive each summer until I was captured by bird photography.
So many birds still left to hunt for and experience.

A Spur of The Moment Thing

It has been a very busy late spring/early summer for us this year at Boney Whitefoot from tracking the various birds breeding and bringing up youngsters, to processing and uploading new images to the website for sale. Our upcoming New Year’s project, Powder Puff, which features chicks from a variety of species is almost complete and has been such fun shooting over the past few months.

Many enjoyable hours were spent down at our local pond documenting the birds although interspaced with few horrific moments bringing back the reality of nature’s primal rule….survival of the fittest. The Paradise Ducks (Maori name pūtangitangi), Mallards, pūkeko, and Black Back Seagulls (Maori name karoro) all interact together on the pond with the pūkeko coming out as the top villain. No chick of any species is safe from these birds.

pūkeko, killed and ate all but a few ducklings hatched over 2 months which included 30 plus mallard ducklings and 12 paradise ducklings.

Pukekos devouring a mallard duckling

pukekos devouring the mallard duckling

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/23798251755/in/dateposted-public/

We even have a resident Rooster who we named Cogburn after the character Rooster Cogburn played first by John Wayne and the later by Jeffrey Bridges in the Coen bros version of the movie True Grit, which just may well be the best western ever made, We dubbed him the Sheriff of the pond but being drunk most of the time he was not a very good sheriff.

Rooster Cogburn always has something to crow about but did little in protecting the citizens.

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One day not long ago , I noticed a Spur Wing or Lap Wing Plover skulking around in the horse paddocks next to the pond.

 

I knew something was up with the Spur Wing when it did not fly away as they tend to do when there is no good reason for it to hang around.

A skulking spurwing
spurwing plover

A few weeks later proved that my suspicions were correct when I spied newly hatched chicks close to the other side of the fence.
Never to miss a chance,  I began my careful approach in the fast dimming light to get shots of the chicks through the long grass, something that proved rather difficult. I had seen them from the other side of the fence but do you think I could find them once I jumped over?

 

Spur-winged plover

I was being given the old dive bomb treatment from mum and dad and I was close to withdrawing but then something strange happened and the birds settled down very close to me and started attending their 3 chicks. I think it had something to do with it being so close to dark.
Basically the parents busied themselves by gathering the chicks up and sitting on them, and that as they say was that for the night for me, they seemed to be saying the shows over.
At first I was dive bombed

Spur-winged plover

But then the parents settled down , gathered their young and sat on them.

Spur-winged plover

2 done, now where’s the other one?

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Here it comes

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Once gathered mum sat on them and that was that

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The light had faded so I went home and made plans to return the next day, and so I did only to find that the birds had shifted two paddocks over to one that had been mowed recently.
This time, time and light were on my side so I moved in and spent 4 hours
photographing and observing the birds. But first I had to find the little ones in a pretty big paddock.

The parents were not giving them away and flew around me chattering (polite word for their insane screeching) and trying to lead me away from the centre of the paddock  which gave me a rough idea of the chicks locality.
One tiny step after carefully placed step, I made my grid search by memory until at last I spied a chick lying in the grass trying to be invisible.

a chick trying to be invisible

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From there it wasn’t long before I had all three chicks located and I settled down a distance away hoping that the parents would settle down and interact with the chicks. I have found that keeping a low profile, remaining silent and not moving around means that most birds will settle down and continue their normal activities paying little heed to me.
It was awesome watching the parents call their chicks from out of hiding.

The chicks hide so well, even the parents can’t find them, instead they circle the general area and call to the chicks who then pop up and stagger through the grass to their momma.

momma calling to her chicks

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So the shoot came to the end as the parents left the chicks in the grass and set to patrolling the area and I left them in peace.

I know they are here some where

Spur-winged plover

I got some good photos of the chicks then headed home never to see that family again

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Spur-winged plover

the last say goes to the spurwing

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So this will be the last entry until after Christmas so I will leave the ending up to Tammy Lynn.

We would like to thank all of our viewers and wish you a very happy and blessed holiday season from Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, Kwanza, Yule. May your New Year be bright and prosperous!

Highlights from 2014 part 2.

I know it’s been a long time since I posted highlights for 2014 part 1, but many things have happened since then.
Starting off in the lineup for this post is the California Quail.
These birds are far from easy getting an excellent shot of and after many attempts with varying results I was pleased to get these shots.
Detail is accentuated in the soft subdued light of the afternoon and the camera position and profile of the birds are spot on.

Female Cali Quail are truly beautiful birds and although they can’t match the gaudy colours of their male counter parts, they are amazing in their own right.

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The male of course is very much impressed with him self

Male California Quail

Next on my list is the pōpokotea or the Whitehead.

This bird is hard to photograph due to its quick erratic movement as it hops around the branches looking for protein rich caterpillars and other insects.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/16609793804/

Now we get to a biggie, the Cock Pheasant.

This bird has been a real challenge especially without a good pointing dog to help find the birds in heavy cover.

Birds flushed and flying directly away make for bad photos and hard crossing shots do not happen when one is forced to flush the birds out of their cover often from right under your feet.

Many, many shots have been taken with few being genuinely pleasing. Still some of the best to date have been when the bird knows the game is up and they try to sneak away through the under growth.

This particular shot was when the cock bird broke heavy cover dashing under a fence into an open paddock before flushing.

I was pretty happy as the bird stopped to pose and look at me giving me a good profile shot.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/17230516522/

Next up is the Rifleman or tītipounamu

This bird is our smallest native bird. These birds do not stay around very long, they can be very inquisitive, but don’t expect a photo session. Small and quick, they dart around seemingly knowing the moment you are about to trip the shutter, so they can jump the picture leaving a blurred image of tail and legs only or maybe a ghostly imprint on your camera’s sensor.

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Mr. Morpork or perhaps master Morpork the ruru is next on the list.

I have a few mature ruru photos but one of a clutch of baby Morporks has always eluded me. This is a photo of a mama Morpork and her two babies.

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The kererū or native wood pigeon is always a favourite bird of mine.

The colour always displays well regardless of the light conditions but this bird has a colour tone all of its own. I’ve never seen one with this dark of burgundy on its back.
Just the colour itself put this bird in my 12 favourite bird shots for 2014.
Once again, the bird profile was excellent due to the low positioning on the tree allowing for an interesting image.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/17206284496/

Bonus Round!!!!!!!

Just to finish off the year, this bird has to be one of the hardest birds to get a good shot of.

The long tail cuckoo or koekoeā is seldom seen perching in a tree .
If one is lucky to see them, they are flying overhead. Most people only hear their screeching while the bird remains hidden in the tops of the trees.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/17206284176/

To round the show off, an even rarer bird slotted into the bonus round.
The White Winged Black Tern is not a common sight to most New Zealanders at all.

This bird is a juvenile and is dipping for insects at Miranda wildlife sanctuary, arguably the prime spot to see wading birds in New Zealand. Miranda wildlife sanctuary is a must see if you enjoy migratory birds that summer over in New Zealand.

I was pleased indeed to get this bird in less than perfect light going about its feeding routine.

white-winged black tern (Chlidonias leucopterus),

Well that rounds off my highlights for last year and already I have a few for next year.

Bless you heaps folks.

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.

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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.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/16468617090/

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.

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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.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/16656095285/

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.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/46846480@N03/16656121915/

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

Happy new years from Boney

A mother Gannet watches closely as her chick emerges out of the egg. You can just see the beak poking through.

A mother Gannet watches closely as her chick emerges out of the egg.
You can just see the beak poking through.


Click on the Image for a bigger version.

Well Im back after a 3 week mission with the camera. Three weeks without a day off as it did not rain at all during the day. We left on the 20th of December to get a jump on the holiday makers and went hard out for 21 consecutive days , from day break until dark every day and some times with hundreds of miles in between shooting locations.
Are you on holiday ? I was often asked as we camped in caravan parks and met many people.
No ma’am it’s no holiday, Im munted lol
Me I slept in my little tent while Steve had the luxury of sleeping in the back of the wagon that was converted into a bed.

The big news for this year

Im planning to be married this year to lovley lady who lives in the States, so this trip was to be my swan song , my last long trip away with Steve, so we went hard out and gave it everything.

We went up the east coast from Wellington through Napier to wairoa , cut inland through the urewera National Park and onto to the Bay of Plenty.
Next we went over to the Firth of Thames, up to north Auckland, on upwards to Northland and then the long trip back down the North Island to Wellington where I live.
We stopped in on turangi and Foxton on the way.
I was able to photograph many (lifers), a birding term for the first sighting of a new species, which will find their way into this blog during the year.

First though I want to do a highlights entry for the year just past.
With so much work and time spent shooting and chasing birds, its hard to find the time to write about the locations and the adventures. I hope to that all you that read my blog are all off to a good start for the new year and bless you guys and gals heaps. Remember check your settings on the camera before you set off to use it, that way you wont get caught out trying to shoot with the wrong setup like what happened to me not so long ago. 2 hours down the tubes lol. I promise I will post more often even if this means shorter entries so check back often and remember Im always open to Ideas on how to improve my blog for you folks so don’t hesitate to give me ideas.

PS just a wee note.
Although my grandma is creative and not often correct as Im dyslexic Maori place names do not have capitals or at least shouldn’t have lol

Shagging around for the day

Nesting in the morning sun

Nesting in the morning sun

ring, ring .
“yep”

“What do you think about going into Zealandia wildlife sanctuary and shooting the juvenile shags tomorrow?.”

I knew what Chris meant I had seen some of the photos of the young Pied shags (many New Zealanders call cormorants shags in this country) and had mentioned to Chris that I was interested in having a look at them, hence the phone call.
The great thing was that these nests are at eye level, so you are shooting almost into the nest its self.
“I’m in” I says, knowing that early morning would mean that the shags would be backlit (the sun strikes the subject from behind) and that would be a challenge to get some interesting shots and so this proved to be the case.

As soon as the Zealander wildlife sanctuary was open for the day we were through the gate , we more or less ignored all the other bird life and made our way smartly down onto the platform across from the Shag nests and set up for the day.
It was a beautiful day and in typical Zealandia style, the place was alive with birds calls.

Kaka traded across the sky above us from one side of the valley to the other, native bush pigeons swooped, ducked and dived gracefully above the tree tops and the adult shags powered up the lake, past us , making sharp u turns at the head of the lake returning and landed noisily on or around the nests before us.
What a palaver, the young shags jostled and fought for the most favoured position in an attempt to temp the adults to feed them first.
It was chilly cold and steamy breathe vapour escaped from the mouths of the shags and with the sun being behind the birds, the puffs of steam stood out and became my main focus.

Remember to click on the image to see a bigger one

hot breathe appears on a cold frosty morning

hot breathe appears on a cold frosty morning

The problem with shooting into the sun esp in a valley is that to the human eye, there seems to be a lot of light bouncing all over the place but the camera does not see light the same way.

I idealy would want to work with a shutter speed of around 500th of a second and upwards with birds not in flight.
I could see I was not getting that most of the time through the viewfinder but I still tried, I timed my shots to drop the hammer when the birds seem to be moving around less.

nothing like a puff first thing in the morning

nothing like a puff first thing in the morning

Because the light was not great I knew if I pushed the ISO up too much, the birds would lose feather detail and the images would have so much digital noise that not even light room would be able to deal with it.
As it was, even ISO 800 was pushing it a bit and because I needed depth of field my normal F8 would be the fastest setting I could use and still get some handy images.
With birds moving across and around each other feeding and squabbling, I needed a fairly deep area of focus to keep both feeder and feedie in focus.
F 8 being the highest I could push meant many of my images have one bird in focus but not the other, the remedy was shoot heaps and save the best 

As the sun slipped higher and slightly around to our left and began striking the birds side on, I began to see the possibility of underexposing the shots by one full stop.
This would darken the shadows and protect the brighter parts of the bird where the sun strikes the brightest and double my speed, a win, win situation.
As I nearly always shoot in AV mode and my exposure is pattern or average, I knew the camera would want to even out the dark background and over expose the brightly lit foreground so by underexposing by one full stop I got some images I was very happy with.
I could see the some light still hitting from behind slightly, but now mostly to the side and I could see the way the light penetrated the feathers when the birds spread their wings, so it became a simple matter of waiting for an opportunity to capture this with the camera..

I like this shot of the sun on the wings of this bird

I like this shot of the sun on the wings of this bird

Another pleasing image

Another pleasing image

Watching a young shag playing with a piece of wood then attracted my attention and the way the light backlit the water spray came off the water.
The result was a pleasing image.

A young Shag messes with a piece of branch pretending it to be a fish

A young Shag messes with a piece of branch pretending it to be a fish

As the day wore and the sun rose over head and my attention wandered to the other birds in our immediate area, a brown teal pāteke (Anas chlorotis) was sneaking around at the head of the dam but before I got there I was stopped by the Grey warblers as they were flittering among the trees.

These birds had the most striking colours of this species I have ever seen and it became a matter of life and death to get some useful images of them.

A Grey Warbler. Ive never seen these birds with so much colour before

A Grey Warbler.
Ive never seen these birds with so much colour before

The problem this day was trying to get some distance from them as they seemed to enjoy the warm winter sun staying close to the outsides of the trees quite close to the floating walkway we were on.

I eventually felt confident I had some useful shots, so then I moved onto the brown Teal.
It was a female, although not as colourful as a male she had her own charms and I enjoyed our time together.

pāteke  the Brown Teal

pāteke the Brown Teal

Meantime going right back at the beginning of our day, Chris and I had picked up a French photographer or more like it, he came to spy out what we were doing and ended up spending almost the entire day in our company, he had stayed with us the entire time while we shot the shags. Laughed and shared jokes and stories.
Such is the comradery that exists among some photography enthusiasts, in fact we had to practically boot him off down the path, to explore some more places before the sun slung to low behind the hills , there was still so much for him to explore.
The light left our valley by 330pm .The day was done.

Before he left we spied a native wood pigeon land on a low branch in a tree above us so we snuck up and got a good shot of him or her.

The New Zealand pigeon or kererū

The New Zealand pigeon or kererū

I wont spend to much time describing Zealandia other than to say this place is a real gem and then some.
The native birds are there in numbers that come with no predators and an abundance of food.

It’s a birders paradise, please check out the link below for information about Zealandia.

http://www.visitzealandia.com/

Don’t be scared have a go at anything that grabs your attention , you never know , you may end up with a pleasing image

A shag flapping hard out cleaning itself .

A shag flapping hard out cleaning itself .

backlight allows for some interesting light, I like the way the birds neck lights up.

wonderful light

wonderful light

Chris and I will be running photographic workshops at Zealandia for individuals or smallish groups so if you want a day in there with myself or Chris give contact me .

I will be writing a lot more on what is available at Zealandia through the coming months .

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

Sunshine on a cloudy day.

Not every day out with the camera is going to be a drop dead gorgeous sunny day.
In fact there is a saying “good photographers sleep during the heat of the midday sun ”

Why? because bright, direct sun light, causes some of the worst photographing conditions around.
Ok, I admit it, I made that saying up, but still lol.

So for this article we will look at how to get the best images on those days when the sun hides behind the clouds and refuses to poke its nose out.

Firstly there are some great advantages to taking photos in cloudy, over cast conditions.
whites or highlights don’t blow out, blown out means whites become so bright that the camera cant record any detail, all you get is solid pure white, lacking any fine detail or slight colour variations.

Here is a perfect example of a happy mistake.
Don’t forget click on the image to see a larger image and camera settings used.

This shot was the result of one of those happy mistakes that pop up now and again.

This shot was the result of one of those happy mistakes that pop up now and again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I overexposed the above young Pied Shag by at least 2 stops but was able to drag some detail back into the bird with Lightroom.
the background is completely blown out and featureless.
I really like this image but from a technical point of view I blew it big time (pun intended )

On over cast days, brightly coloured birds can under go a remarkable colour sift.

Without the bright sun light bouncing the light back off the bird, the light is absorbed and you can see much greater feather detail.

This first bird is an Australasian shoveler duck and is our most colourful native duck.
The first shot is taken in bright conditions.

Taken in bright conditions the colour bounces back off the bird

Taken in bright conditions the colour bounces back off the bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This second shot is of a similar coloured bird but in very subdued light.

Taken in low light conditions , the colours of this bird really stand out . and there has been a colour shift ,esp on the birds head area

Taken in low light conditions , the colours of this bird really stand out .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again another bird in low light conditions

Low light allows the light to be absorbed instead of bounced back at the camera person.

Low light allows the light to be absorbed instead of bounced back at the camera person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can be out in light drizzling rain without drowning your camera even better, you can capture shots that are much different from the stock standard sunny day shot everyone else has of your subject.

Kuruwhengu The Australasian shoveler -5564-Edit-2

rain and ducks lol

rain and ducks lol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we can see a comparison with a Mallard drake.
the first in bright direct light

untitled-5739-Edit-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the second subdued light

Mallard-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE NEED FOR SPEED

Shutter speed.
Ideally you want to be tripping the shutter at twice the speed as your focal length .
so with a 300mill lens you want to be around 600th of a second but this is just not realistic much of the time.

Image stabilization (IS) is a must if one wants to be serious about wildlife photography.
don’t bother wasting any money on a lens that does not support Image stabilization (IS)

Now days it can mean 2-3 stops of speed, each stop equally the effect of doubling the speed of the shutter.
this brings the man with the 300 mil lens down to a shutter speed of 200 or less.

Then practice holding you camera steady .Learn to pan with the birds on the water don’t stop moving with the bird when you trip the shutter .

ISO
If you have a relatively new DSLR (?) then the game is all yours , over the last 5-10 years the ability for cameras to take really good images at high ISO, 800 and above has changed wildlife photography for ever.
each stop of ISO (double value) doubles the speed that the camera can register the image on the cameras sensor. 100, 200 , 400, 800, 1600. each full increment doubles the speed of the camera.

Practice with your camera; try out your high ISO settings in varying conditions.
Very poor low light just makes the effects of high ISO far too grainy (digital noise) and sometimes you have to walk away and come back another day, however limited but good light may enable you to go 1600 and higher.

This Female Paradise shellduck was shot on a bright day but limited light on the water and weak light on the bird its self.
At ISO 1600 (?) I knew I could get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the bird sharply.

Female Paradise Shelduck --2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The camera settings I used are stored with the larger photo when you click on the image.

Mostly I shoot at ISO 800, this gives me a better chance of getting the shot sharp, yet still gives me acceptable fine detail given reasonable light.

The higher the ISO setting, the faster the shutter speed, the faster the shutter speed, the more likely you will be at successfully getting a sharp image.

The trade off is always going to be high ISO = a bit grainy (digital noise) that hides the finest details but it can also give you a shot to store on your HDD or post to your mates on the internet.

Landscapes

In light cloudy conditions the focus of the image maybe of the sky its self.
A storm front approaching can be very dramatic.

Ben Avon wetlands Ahuriri Valley South Canterbury, New Zealand

Ben Avon wetlands Ahuriri Valley
South Canterbury, New Zealand

Approaching storm clouds head down the Ahuriri river valley from the Southern Alps

Approaching storm clouds head down the Ahuriri river valley from the Southern Alps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re a serious landscape photographer you will be using a tripod so we won’t worry too much about the settings you take your images at, what ISO and such, so shutter speed will not be an issue, instead all your focus will be on the drama.

Ahuriri

So just because its overcast out there, don’t find something else to do, grab that camera and head out and see what you can get.

Boneys workshops

I have just added a new link to my main menu above, giving an overview of what to expect if you came out for a day with me.

During this week I will be adding more detailed information as I get it sorted.

So check out the new link and contact me if you have any questions .
Boneywhitefoot-watermark small

Highlights from 2013 prt1

Well we are into the new year, I was going to write up a trip report of our adventures over the Christmas period, but I haven’t even managed to write the Chrissie trip we did to Northland from the year before LoL.
So I think I will start the year off with a series of highlights from the year of our Lord 2013.
2013 was an insane year for me and one that I will remember for its many photographic challenges and the addition of a new lens a 300 2.8 prime and camera body a 1D.mrk4, which Steve kindly lent me.
To set the scene we must travel back in time to the northern most part of New Zealand, Cape Reinga new years eve 2012.
I will do a detailed essay on Northland sometime in the future, its an amazing place where you can go mad with a camera.
New year’s eve 2012 certainly was a cracker, the sun put in a good effort and managed to stay up in the sky for the whole day before running out of steam and falling off the edge of the earth or into the sea, Im not sure which.
As the sun was setting, we, Steve and I were joined by a sober bunch of happy tourists and together we watched the light fade to darkness.

Cape Reinga  new years eve 2012

Cape Reinga new years eve 2012

With the sun gone we returned to our campers park which had become a freakin new years night disco.
How were we to know that the camp doubled as a new year’s celebration venue for the locals ? I lay awake that night in my tent, buffered by screaming loud music and the groups of locals that milled around outside the venue right beside my tent, having a sneaky joint and giggling and carrying on.
I certainly wasn’t feeling all that flash as we pulled into the Cape Reinga car park just before day break next morning to catch the sun rise on a new year.
the sun hits the light house at the cape for the first time in 2013.

Sunrise at Cape Reinga New years day 2013

Sunrise at Cape Reinga New years day 2013


We were not alone, people turned up in their pyjamas, nighties, wrapped in blankets some in sleeping bags with the bottoms unzipped it was unbelievable.
Anyway that’s how the 2013 kicked off for me.
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Every bird photographer God ever created has a list of birds they want to get photos of, a list of trophies if you like, a new species captured and to tick off the ever growing list.
ticking the box on a hard to get bird is very much part of the wildlife photographers asperations, any that deny this are just great big fibbers.

My first bird challenge I achieved in 2013 was one I never really expected to achieve, namely to get a photo of kuera the brown quail. (Coturnix ypsilophora australis) an introduced bird from Australia.
Northland is the Promised Land for game bird hunters, this IS the place to go if you want to see lots of Pheasants and brown quail, so if I was to get a chance, this was the place to have a go at getting a brown quail.

kuera the brown quail is a very small Quail imported from Australia not to be confused with the stubble quail. (Coturnix pectoralis) and they don’t hang around out in the open much and if you do see them, they are usually hightailing back into cover. These birds are also my favorite Game bird to hunt over pointing Dogs, they hold well for the dog and fly low and fast, they make California quail look like a wounded turkey in flight by comparison.
Well every now and again things just go your way and we found a small bevy of them feeding out in a open-ish area quite confidant in their camouflaged suits believing themselves invisible in the rather dim light of the new day.
Once they realized they were not invisible, the running and wild zigzagging began and I tried my best to get the shots, sprinting around the slippery grass hillside after them snapping franticly, all too aware that this may be my only ever chance at this bird.
Im pretty happy with the shots I got considering the palaver I went through , but better was yet to come.

kuera hoping its invisible

kuera hoping its invisible

Later, on the way back to the camper park to pack up and move on, with eyes peeled to the side of the road in hopes of spotting challenge no2, a Cock Pheasant, both Steve and I spotted a brown quail on a bank on the side of the road, it wasn’t hard, the sun was full up and the bird was brilliantly golden colored, it stood out like a neon light.
Unbelievably the bird allowed us to get reasonably close before it rocketed off the bank and across the road into cover.
I don’t believe I will ever get better shots of this species of bird.

I doubt that I will get a better pick of this very hard to find let along get a good image of quail

I doubt that I will get a better pick of this very hard to find let along get a good image of quail

But wait there’s more lol
dropping down into Spirits bay on the way back, I got a shot of not only a Cock Pheasant but it was a melanistic cross , no white neck like the common or ring necked pheasant.

Te Matua Ngahere the 'Father of the Forest', has a trunk over five metres in diameter, possessing the widest girth of any surviving kauri tree

Te Matua Ngahere the ‘Father of the Forest’, has a trunk over five metres in diameter, possessing the widest girth of any surviving kauri tree

Spirits Bay is a must see it has fantastic white sandy beaches and beautiful pōhutukawa trees.

2 horses with a fantastic pōhutukawa in the background. Spirits Bay Cape Reinga

2 horses with a fantastic pōhutukawa in the background.
Spirits Bay Cape Reinga

the brilliant red flowers of the  pōhutukawa  really add colour in early summer

the brilliant red flowers of the pōhutukawa really add colour in early summer


Tent packed and heading south I felt 2013 was off to a good start.

No one touring Northland should drive past Waipoua Forest and its huge kauri trees.
the crowning glory being tāne mahuta, the largest kauri tree left in New Zealand and almost impossible to photograph to scale.

Notice the person at the base of the tree on the right, not that right, the other right neo.

tāne mahuta is the largest  kauri tree  in the Waipoua Forest situated in Northland

tāne mahuta is the largest kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest situated in Northland

another shot of the forest giant
tāne mahuta

Te Matua Ngahere the 'Father of the Forest', has a trunk over five metres in diameter, possessing the widest girth of any surviving kauri tree

Te Matua Ngahere the ‘Father of the Forest’, has a trunk over five metres in diameter, possessing the widest girth of any surviving kauri tree

The next big stop was the miranda bird sanctuary.
The first bit of excitement was right at the gate, a lovely red headed lass in shorts and gumboots was setting a trap for ferrets. Having spent many years as a commercial trapper we had a chat about trapping stuff, she knew what she was doing, to see a pretty woman that could trap pests all in one package did this old mans heart glad, almost the perfect girl.
Any way we weren’t there to shoot the breeze, shooting birds was beckoning, farewell trapper woman and I headed out through the mud and out onto the shell bank and the sizzling sun to have a squizz.
Pure white sea shells and blinding sun made it quite an endurance.

For those not acquainted with the Miranda bird sanctuary it is the no 1 spot for wading birds in New Zealand, birds accumulate there from the ends of the earth in staggering numbers.

Godwits and lesser knots

Godwits and lesser knots

tarāpuka the Black billed gulls were there in number with their newly hatched chicks, so that kept us occupied for a while.
tarāpuka the Black-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus bulleri),

Black bills are considered nationally critical so it was good to see them creating some backups to take them into the future. 🙂

for two days we chased the birds around in the scorching sun and then headed home.

Torea the South Island Oystercatcher or South Island Pied Oyster feeling the pinch

Torea the South Island Oystercatcher or South Island Pied Oyster feeling the pinch

With the Christmas adventure at an end we made it back home in Wellington where our next challenge loomed, Mr taranui or Caspian Tern another endangered and threatened bird.
We had access to a nesting site where about 30 adults were raising their young and I wanted shots of them doing so.
But we will have to wait till part 2 of what I plan to be 3 parts .

Many of my readers will know that I am a born again Christian and have been now for over 30 years, for those who know me really well they realize, that , that doesn’t mean Im perfect, it means Im saved lol.
Any way Im a 6 day creationist, that means I believe God created the earth and a base set of animals the Bible calls KINDS likely this falls somewhere into the man-made category classification of FAMILY or GENUS that have diversified (speciated) and adapted to fill the earth over the last 6,000 years or so.
Some of you will be aware that Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis debated Bill Nye the science guy around the 4th of this month.
It was a huge success, simply because it bought the evolution/creation debate that has been raging for many decades out into the public eye once again.
This couldn’t have come at better time as feburary the 12th is our annual (question evolution day).
All we have ever asked is to be able to question the information put forward that is claimed, proves life started from naturalistic causes, billions of years ago, independent of an intelligent designer in the class rooms of our schools.
Most of us do not want to have the creation account as written in the Bible, pushed as science or confused with empirical science in public schools, but would rather it be used to challenge what at the moment has been protected from being challenged namely the theory of evolution.
It is my belief that neither has a place in the science room and that observable testable science, the type of science that benefits mankind should be reserved for such an environment.
I’m not hostile to those who believe in the theory that all life shares one single common ancestor, but I think we have the right to go head to head with this theory in public and in private without the hostile and abusive reactions we quite often receive.
I would encourage both atheist and Christian to go to the links provided, look at the 15 minute video, then look at the 15 questions here
http://creation.com/15-questions
this site http://www.piltdownsuperman.com/p/question-evolution-day.html has all the information one needs to start exploring the possibility that just perhaps the people who claim that the theory of evolution is a scientific fact, have not got all the answers they claim to have.
Use the information as a critical thinking tool and try to keep an open mind.
If you disagree, fine it’s your choice, just so long as you at least had a look into the issues, but please don’t remain uninformed.
Freedom comes from looking at both sides of the coin and making a more informed decision.
I personally believe that your eternal security is at stake, if you reject Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross as he is the only way of salvation to man.
If the belief that nature basically created its self proves there is no God and stands in your way of believing there is a creator God and He has revealed Himself to mankind, follow the bread crumbs.
Im not forcing anyone to follow the links and I will not answer any questions directed to me regarding this issue unless I feel it comes from an honest inquiring mind, Im not here to argue the issue, just provide the information.
Bless you heaps dudes and dudesses, Im looking forward to another year of adventure behind the lens.

The answer is out there and its looking for you, it’s the question that drives us.
is evolution really a scientific fact?

Here is something I would like you to think about .
ATP powers the cell.

The cell will not survive or indeed even kick start without The ATP synthase machine being fully functional to provide ATP to the cell.

The machine is made of several proteins.

My question is this, how could this machine and the ATP its self evolve in a step by step process when the cell that is all cells need this machine to provide fuel to keep the cell alive?