29 October 2010


Yellowhammers (Emberiza citrinella) are common here in the valley. Understandably, some people think they're yellowheads (mohua; Mohoua ochrocephala), but the two differ hugely: mohoua are endemic, rare (endangered, in fact) and only found in the South Island; yellowhammers were introduced from Britain, are common and are widespread throughout the country. Being small (sparrow-sized) and not particularly confiding, photographing them can be difficult. This was one of a pair near my back door one drizzly day a month ago.

[30 September 2010, Canon 20D, 300 mm f4 L IS, Canon EF1.4x teleconverter, ISO 400, 1/400 at f5.6]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor


Relatively Retiring said...

He/she looks good on a grey background. Do you think they were accidentally imported, or did your forefathers and friends travel with cages of British wild birds? (I know about the rainbow trout!)

Barbara said...

Wow. Whoa. For such a little-bitty creature it certainly has a commanding presence! Seriously stunning work. Glad you had your camera ready-to-hand for this one!

pohanginapete said...

RR, they were deliberately introduced, along with a huge range of other birds and animals (many of which, like foxes, fortunately failed to establish). Nostalgia for "home" seemed to be a primary motivator, although some, like various species of deer, were introduced so they could be hunted, and possums were introduced to establish a fur trade. A century or more later, we're still struggling with the consequences of those ill-considered actions.

Barbara, thanks. I love the colours even in fine weather, but they're especially cheering on days like these.