30 October 2008

Whio at Ngamoko hut

I waited until he grew used to me, then moved forward a little and waited again. Little by little, until I decided this was close enough. He preened, ruffled his feathers, hunkered down, then pulled one leg up. He seemed to have all the time in the world, out there on his rock surrounded by the swift, clean, cold river. Most of the few remaining whio are now largely restricted to the headwaters of wild rivers in hard country, so one doesn't see these things easily.

March 2008, in the Pohangina river below Ngamoko hut; the shortest way there is at least 4—6 hours' walk up and over the Ngamoko Range.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor


Anne-Marie said...

Cool! A whio doing yoga. This is a stunning photo, Pete. Your love for whio is evident in all your photos of them.

Anonymous said...

Pete: Last January we were lucky enough to see whio on the Nina River just below the hut, and only three hours' easy walk in from the road. We didn't get as good view as this, though, as we startled them and they swam to the other side. This photograph shows the black flaps on the end of the bill very well. You've got lovely detail in the feathers, especially the bluey-grey ones.

pohanginapete said...

Anne-Marie, you're right, I love these birds, as, I suspect, does everyone who has much to do with them. As for the yoga — I hadn't thought of that! But now you mention it, I have photos of other birds doing yoga — gulls, a pigeon; probably others if I checked. (I have the germ of an idea there...) Thanks!

Lesley, the bill can be difficult to photograph, for two reasons: getting the right angle to show the shape and structure can require much patience, and it's deceptively bright — in quite a few photos you'll notice the bill is overexposed so detail, and particularly the subtle colour, gets lost. I'm glad you've seen whio in the wild; pleased that some at least are accessible to more than just the people capable of hard tramping (or rich enough to afford helicopter flights).

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pete,
I wonder if this is the same Whio I saw there in 2005? I was outside the hut standing above the river with a cup of tea when I heard him call and fly by, then turn around and set up on a rock in the river 10 metres away. What a moment! I did not bother taking a photo but relive that wonderful interaction through your photos. Kia ora.

pohanginapete said...

Kia ora Robb. I think it's quite possible it's the same bird. I don't know how long they live, but I'd be surprised if it was only a few years (even with the stoats). They're highly territorial, too. But the only way to know for sure would be to band the birds, and although I accept the value of banding, I kind of like the fact they're not banded in the Pohangina.

I've seen whio quite often there, but it's usually too dark to photograph. I was lucky with him that day, possibly because it was heavily overcast, almost spitting with rain.