Hokitika Talk – Regent Theatre

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I am to give an illustrated talk at the Regent Theatre in Hokitika on Friday, October 27, at 7 pm. See poster below.

Brief Synopsis of Talk

“To photograph every bird species in New Zealand” is the theme of the illustrated talk to be given by Paul Gibson of Whanganui. Paul will tell how his attempts have gone to date and share with you many of his adventures along the way. The journey has led him to many and varied locations including distant islands across wild oceans. Learn something about photography and see close up some of our most beautiful birds, including three specialities of the West Coast. Not a scientific talk and suitable for any age group.

Hokitika Evening 27 October 2017

 

Our Smallest Arctic Wader

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A visit to the Manawatu River Estuary on Saturday produced a red-necked stint, the smallest Arctic wader that comes to New Zealand. Only sparrow sized, its migration journey is one of the wonders of the natural world. This bird was showing breeding plumage so not sure if it is a bird that overwintered here or if for small reason it has returned early from the north. Such a little beauty it was a joy to see.

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Kingfishers in Winter

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Most winters I try to spend some time in a hide down on the Whanganui River bed, as it is the time of the year when kingfishers congregate. This last Saturday was not overly successful but I did get an odd flight shot, and I did witness and photograph a kingfisher coughing up pallets of undigested food. They are one of New Zealand’s most colourful birds, their brilliant blues are striking.

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Waterfalls – adding to New Zealand’s beauty

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A weekend in Tauranga after much heavy rain meant the waterways were full, and the waterfalls spectacular. Friends we were staying with suggested we check out the McLaren Falls, just 30 minutes drive from Tauranga. What a great place, surrounded by beautiful trees, and just beginning to show autumn colours. Well worth the visit if waterfalls are your thing.

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The Marvel of Migration

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We have a godwit who visits us in Whanganui each summer, or at least has done for the last 10 years, as I have previously reported in my posts. I checked out the Whanganui River estuary yesterday and the 10 godwits there all look like they are ready to go, and among them our AJD flagged bird, now bright red/orange in colour and laden with fat, ready for the long migration to the northern hemisphere. Below is a picture taken on my phone through the spotting scope. It is a marvel how these birds know the exact time, as AJD usually leaves here on March 22 for Foxton, from where he migrates north on the 25th. I plan to be in Foxton for that date, as I have never actually witnessed his departure on migration.

 

LATER NOTE: AJD actually migrated this year direct from Whanganui, on March 24. I was fortunate to be able to photograph him just before he left, at around 5 pm, see picture below.

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An Unexpected Encounter

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The Royal Spoonbill is a very photogenic bird, a photographer’s dream subject. Over the years I have photographed many of them but almost always on the ground, usually at some estuary. Recently I came across some in a tree and what a great photo shoot. It is often the unexpected encounters that are so rewarding, and add to the fun of birding.

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Christmas bonus – Photos of two new bird species

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This has been a good summer for new bird species in New Zealand – for me, three new birds photographed in three weeks, not too bad considering some years there are no additions. The first was the Wilson’s Phalarope, as reported in my last post, followed by a trip to Miranda on the Firth of Thames where with difficulty I managed photos of two Pectoral Sandpipers that had been reported from there. While at Miranda I received a text from a friend in Napier saying, “You must come here ASAP as a place has been found where Marsh Crake are reliably seen”.  So a trip home from Auckland via Napier (650 km) was undertaken resulting in some beautiful pictures of Marsh Crake. This had been my ‘nemesis bird’, one I’d sort at every place possible where they were said to be, and always dipped out. Only once had I glimpsed one, but it was gone before I could ready my camera. So for me these are a great Christmas bonus, and thanks goes to those who first identified and reported these special birds.

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Chasing a MEGA rarity

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When word was out that a MEGA rarity, in the birding world, had shown up at Napier I was making plans to get there as quick as possible. Only the forth record of this species in New Zealand, a Wilson’s Phalarope was highly sought after by birders around the country. Arriving at the pond in Napier’s Ahuriri Estuary where the bird was said to frequent was a tense moment, as a quick scan revealed nothing, but with binoculars and spotting scope we soon located it. So small and camouflaged it was difficult to see, even at 50 metres. Another “lifer” for me and a great series of photos made the trip so worthwhile. How a bird that breeds in the USA and Canada, and migrates to South America, can arrive in New Zealand, is hard to fathom.

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Dunedin – Wildlife Capital of New Zealand?

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We are often in Dunedin due to having family there, and for me every trip must include some time on the Otago Peninsula. Things I associate with the area include albatrosses, penguins, shags, terns, gulls, sea lions and seals, as well as a castle and beautiful landscapes. Their claim to be the “Wildlife Capital of New Zealand” is well supported by the things to see. Our recent 10 days there were most enjoyable, and I kept my camera busy most of the time.

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Road trip – Raglan/Kawhia/Mokau

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We may have lived in New Zealand all our lives, but have we seen all our country?  This past week we visited an area where we had never been – the coastal area from Raglan down to Mokau in North Taranaki. A six day road trip was most enjoyable, visiting harbours, estuaries and small villages we did not know existed. The journey offered great photo opportunities of rural New Zealand, with lots of birding along the way.

At two impressive waterfalls I was able to test slow motion pictures (around 6th of a second) that give a smooth look to the falling water.

In total, a great week, good roads – and high recommended.

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