Sunday, August 26, 2012

Playing With Gulls

Today the weather was turning sour and the wind was up. The tides just weren't right and the birds were all off hiding somewhere. All except the seagulls.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

A trip to the Zoo

There was a special on entry to the Wellington Zoo, so we bought a couple of tickets and planned a trip there for today. Yesterday's weather was fantastic so I had hoped for the same today. It was raining as we headed down State Highway 2 towards Wellington City, though it did clear up before we got there. Just past the point of no return for going home I realised that my monopod was at home still. Bugger!

I had also made the decision not to bring lots of lenses as I hadn't taken the 'Bigma' to the zoo before and wanted to know what I could do with it there. Unfortunately it requires the monopod. The other zoom lens I own which I could have used without a monopod was of course at home too. Long story short, I now have two monopods and one of them will ALWAYS stay in the car! So much for cheap tickets!

The zoo itself is in a state of restructuring, so many of the exhibits are closed off for renovation and others had no animals to be seen in them due to the high winds and not so nice weather. Maybe I should have done what they were doing and stayed in! I hadn't seen the Bolivian Spider Monkeys before, or the changes that had been made to the area they are housed in. It was great to see glass viewing windows at long last! Of course the sun chose that time to shine and reflections were everywhere. Should have stayed in bed!

I gave up on the monkeys and headed to the red pandas. Now they were being very cooperative and I managed to get some shots there. After walking round the entire zoo, we ended up back at the spider monkeys. I ended up sitting and waiting for people to go and monkeys to come close enough. By staying back a good distance (where the seat was) I managed to avoid the reflections completely. So the day wasn't a total waste, I have some very cute monkey shots :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Black Shags

In all the time I have spent with the shags over the last few weeks, I have never seen them fly in a large flock before. We were at the Pauatahanui Inlet when in the distance a large black cloud appeared. It was moving towards us and moving fast! So fast that I almost didn't manage to get a shot of it coming in.

This image really doesn't do it justice, I didn't have time to change my lens. They dropped down close to the water as they reached us and with a splash landed in the water not far from us. They bobbed about for a short while with the sea gulls and then they were gone again. It was very strange behaviour to me, but I am sure there is a seasonal reason for it. I managed to get a few shots of them before they left.

I think the sea gull was a little confused because he left with them when they flew off. Looked a bit funny, all these large black birds, and one white gull.

Petone Estuary

There is an abundance of bird life at the Petone Estuary at low tide - I have yet to go there and come away without at least one decent image. There is a resident white heron (kotuku) by the boat sheds, a grey heron that comes in from time to time, lots of kingfishers (kotare), and the usual bunch of gulls, sparrows, and finches. These images were all shot within one hour just before low tide.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Kotuku - White Heron

Finally I managed to see the white heron at the Petone Estuary. Apparently the bird is very tame as the boat shed owners often feed it fish. So tame that it just walks right on into the sheds if the doors are left open. Some of them have put up gates to keep it out, others are happy for it to make itself at home there. At night it settles into a boat that is outside one of the sheds, the locals tell me that the heron has claimed the boat as its own. The light was not terrific for these photos but I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to photograph the heron. 

Birds in Flight

In preparation for my trip to the gannets this year, I have been practicing capturing birds in flight with my new Sigma lens. Before I went out this time I did some research on the web to see how others had achieved this and what settings they used to do it. I wrote down the 'recipe' and off I went with a couple of friends.  We sat on the side of the river with our picnic lunches, camera and boots and every now and then you would hear one of us shout "incoming..." and then the click click click of the shutters could be heard.

We did this for several hours before deciding that we had done our dash for the day. From my point of view it was a brilliant exercise because while I shot a lot of images I will discard,  the success rate was high. I am getting more and more comfortable with the large lens and the 'recipe' worked!

All these images were shot with 1/2000 sec shutter speed on TV priority. The stabiliser on the lens turned off and auto focus set to AI servo. ISO was set to 400. The sun was bright so there was enough light for me to achieve these results that I am really happy with.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Sometimes when you are focused on a single bird you often forget to look around you. I was chasing a heron, trying to find a good spot among the boat sheds to photograph it when I came across a bush covered in goldfinches. By the time I realised what they were most had flown off. I did manage a couple of shots tho.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Kingfishers again...

Today I went down to the Petone Estuary to see if the kingfishers were about. I was in luck as there were a few flying about - not as many as the last time I saw them there but enough to get a few interesting photos. I learned a bit about their eating habits too. One of the kingfishers spent some time spitting up a ball of what can only be described as 'left-over' bits. There was another such ball behind him so it was not the first time he had done it there today. I am told it is called "casting" and that lots of birds do it.

I was also getting brave and experimenting with camera settings to try and push up my shutter speed. All these shots were taken at 1/2000 with ISO set at 400. I was pleased that it worked for me as I don't often try new things. Tomorrow I will try those settings with birds in flight!

Spitting out leftovers - note ball in the mouth and one behind the bird.

I am not a fish...