26 November 2008

The best mountaineer [Nestor notabilis]

Kea, Avalanche Peak, Arthurs Pass NP
I don't think it was trying to make off with my Leki pole, but you never know. Anyway, I don't know why it would need one — I'd gladly swap my poles for a set of wings like these.
New Zealand's kea (Nestor notabilis) are the only true mountain parrots, and might be the most intelligent birds in the world — definitely up there or surpassing crows, ravens and their ilk. While this bird distracted me, its mate was sneaking around behind me to check out my daypack.

[I've rescheduled the posts so I could add this one for any visitors from 10,000 Birds. Thanks Mike, for the generous link :^)]

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

10 comments:

Greg Brave said...

What a great photograph! The beautiful red color on the inside of the Kea's wings is rarely seen on photographs.
Did you take this picture at Arthur's Pass NP ?

Avus said...

Oh, Pete - what a simply magnificent picture!

Zhoen said...

... wow.

Emma said...

Oh! Majestic. I love this.

pohanginapete said...

Greg, yes, Avalanche Peak. You're not supposed to feed them, but this pair had quite a different opinion on that (I managed to keep my lunch to myself, but they had plenty of pickings from others less scrupulous).

Avus, Zhoen, Emma — thanks :^)

Relatively Retiring said...

How amazing! I love the intent expression in the eye, and hope you didn't sustain too much damage to the day bag.
When your cousins were small an older cousin sent them a book about keas, and they laughed at the stories about those beaks slicing through tents and back-packs. When they visited New Zealand they realised keas and their beaks are really not funny.

pohanginapete said...

RR, they're delightful birds, but when I'm in kea country I try to stay alert to the whereabouts of my belongings. Leaving a camp set up for the day while off exploring or climbing can be nervewracking, but I've been lucky so far.

Greg Brave said...

I thought so! What a great walk it is! The views from the top are wonderful. And Keas take advantage of it :) when people are looking arount, they look into their backpacks :)

Lesley said...

Pete, my reaction when this popped onto my screen was "WOW!" (So I guess it could be said to have the so-called "Wow Factor!") It's magnificent, both bird and image.

It's beautifully composed, with just that little bit of out-of-focus rock to give context. I do like the way you haven't been afraid to allow the wing, one foot, and the end of the tail, to disappear out of the frame. To my mind, this draws more attention to the orangey-red of the underwing. The feather detail you've achieved is enviable. I can even see the very delicate textural shading where single feathers on the lower wing have the light behind them. It was good that the sky was overcast. You wouldn't have had such good rendition of colour in sunlight. (I speak from disappointed experience.)

And watch out for your windscreen wipers and the rubber seals around doors and windows if you stop in your car in kea country!

pohanginapete said...

Thank you Lesley. It often takes courage to amputate (visually, of course), parts of a photo. I feel confident with this one, but I probably chicken out more than I should.