Saturday, April 21, 2018

Bird #101!

And just like that,  I find my one hundred and first bird, a New Zealand Dabchick. For those of you in the US, and other parts of the world, the Dabchick is also known as a Grebe. I had been hitting a lot of the small fresh water lakes in the northern half of the North Island, before getting a tip from Ricky, at Summit Forest Products. It seems there are a few lakes that are not really published on any map, but are open for visiting. Since they are not really “out there” for the public to know about, the birds gather there with a little less harassment by visiting people. Sure enough, there were 6 New Zealand Dabchicks there, with 5 adult birds and one very young bird, still being fed by its parents. The birds stayed out in the middle of the lake, so the photos kinda suck, but a Dabchick it is!!

Here is a shot of the juvenile!


Sunday, April 15, 2018

The White-fronted Terns of New Zealand

Without much question, the most common Tern on any of the New Zealand islands is the White-fronted Terns. This is a small bird, similar in size to our Foresters Tern, with a slim black bill, white breast, and light gray back and wings. I saw my first one, in Christchurch, and have pretty much seen them at almost every salt water bay, or rocky point I have visited. We crossed on a small car ferry today, and got to watch several of the preening, and then take off and go fishing. I never did get a photo with any of them with a fish, Well, one that is not very good, but I did get some nice shots. We also saw quite a few while we were on 90 Mile Beach, on the north west part of the North Island.

This photo below shows an adult tern on the right, with a juvenile bird on the left. The young bird still has some of its darker plumage.

And, so here is the not so good shot with a fish....


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Update on the Oystercatchers

I had done a short posting a few weeks back, about the Oystercatchers here in New Zealand. With out traveling several hundred miles to some distant islands, there are there are two species of Oystercatcher. The South Island, and the Variable. The catch here is the color variations, per the name of the Variable Oystercatcher. There is the all black, the Pied version, that is black and white that is similar to the South Island Oystercatcher, and then there is the Intermediate phase.

We will start with the South Island Oystercatcher, as there is only one of them, and it is with out the most common. As you can see the white from the breast and belly extends well up above the front of the wings.

With the Pied Phase of the Variable Oystercatcher, it virtually ends with the front of the wind. The line from black to white is a little less defined as well.

The Black Phase of the Variable Oystercatcher is just that, all black.

Where the fun comes in (Well at least for me) is finding what is called an Intermediate Phase Variable Oystercatcher. Now you have  a mottled black and white breast and belly area. Here is a pictures of this phase that I have found, along side a South Island Oystercatcher.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The New Zealand Century mark

So, when I began my planning for this long birding trip, everybody asked me if I had a goal, a number of species that I hoped to find. To be very truthful, I have a number, but it is really a bit of pipe dream, so I have kept that to myself. I can tell you that I had hoped for 100 species for the country of New Zealand. Thursday afternoon, at about 11:00 AM, New Zealand time, I got my 100th species! It turned out to not be a rare endemic, or a bird that I had worked hard for in order to find. I in fact found the 100th species, just outside the “Long Drop” in a park when you can visit the historic 1816 Stone House Store. For those of you from anywhere other than New Zealand, the long drop is a loo….a head…ok, I will make it easy, a outhouse, or bathroom. I had just finished my business, washed my hands, and dried them on my shirt, as there were no towels, and walking out the door, spotted a Barbary Dove just sitting there waiting for me. This is an introduced bird, but none the less, it makes species number 100. Here are a couple photos of bird #100


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Royal Spoonbill

In several of my trips over to the Mexico mainland, I had hoped to be able to photograph the Roseate Spoonbill. It just never worked out. Over here in New Zealand, there are Royal Spoonbills and they are at least, a small amount more cooperative with regard to getting their photo taken. I found this bird just north of Wellington.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Australian Magpies

Right off the bat, I have thought the Australian Magpies were just very cool looking. Stark black and white, they stand out, where every you find them, but are very wary, and hard to really get a good photo of.  The most interesting think I think about them is their early morning call. It is hard to describe, but it certainly does not sound like anything made by a living creature. Maybe a an electric organ, possessed by a demon of some kind? No matter what, is sounds like, it is very interesting the first few days, but then, it really starts to get old. Here are a few of the pictures I have managed to get.

I ran across this juvenile Magpie, that really has gotten off to a bad start. As you might be able to see, it has a deformed right foot, and what you can't see is that it is also missing an eye. It was still out feeding, and despite all of that, doing pretty well, all things considered.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Myna Birds in New Zealand

Much like the House Sparrows and Starlings in the US, in New Zealand there is a very large population of the introduced Mynas. While this bird is not unattractive, they seem to have adapted to both country living as well as in most major cities, especially on the north island and are competing for the resources of the native birds. Here are a couple pictures of the New Zealand Myna.

I caught this photo right after it caught a Praying Mantis for a snack!

The birds living in the city tend to look like they have been in street fights...and lost!!