22 December 2012

Whio at Leon Kinvig hut

From early Monday to late Thursday afternoon last week, I helped survey the whio (blue duck; Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos) population in the headwaters of the Pohangina river. A team of three with a specially trained German short-haired pointer checked the lower river (from Cattle Creek to Leon Kinvig hut, for those of you who know the place), while Nathan from DOC (Department of Conservation) and I checked the upper river including most of the major tributaries.

Late in the evening of the first day, this male turned up in the river by the hut. Not much light for photographing, but this gives a good impression of these lovely birds. The pale pink bill's extremely bright — so much so that in many photographs it's overexposed and appears white — and can be easily seen even when the dusk's so far advanced that the rest of the bird has disappeared into the dark surroundings. I've often thought perhaps this enables pairs to keep track of each other during their crepuscular feeding, but I can't think how this might be tested, even in theory and certainly not in practice. Any suggestions?

More from the survey shortly...

[17 December 2012, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 300 mm, ISO 800, 1/50 at f5.6]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

16 December 2012

Tachinid, No. 1 Line

Recently I've been making frequent trips up the No. 1 Line track, and have been rewarded with sightings of deer and NZ falcons (karearea; Falco novaeseelandiae). But plenty of smaller wildlife offers fascinating rewards too, and this is one — a big bristle fly, one of the group of parasitic flies in the family Tachinidae. For some weeks now, each time I've waited for the water to boil so I can make tea, this fly (or one of its mates — I can't distinguish the individuals) has come and hung out on the seat next to me. It's big — about the size of a big blowfly — and after numerous meetings, feels like a friend.

[If you haven't already noticed, I published a new post on Pohanginapete a week or so ago.]

[15 December 2012, Canon 20D, 100 mm f2.8 macro, ISO 200, 1/640s at f4]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

03 December 2012

Leopard, Naini Tal

Leopards still roam wild throughout many parts of India, including the Himalayan foothills of Garhwal and Kumaon which together make up Uttarakhand. While I travelled in that region in late 2006 I wondered whether I might glimpse a leopard; later, on returning to the lowlands of Rajasthan and reading a newspaper  that reported the killing of a young girl by a leopard in Uttarakhand (known then as Uttaranchal), I thought maybe glimpsing a leopard isn't as exhilarating an experience for people who live in close proximity to wild leopards.

This one, however, was captive at Naini Tal zoo, where it shared a small enclosure with too many others.

[7 December 2006, Canon 20D, 300 mm f4 L IS, ISO 200, 1/160s at f8]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor