27 February 2014

Fungus gnats

These fungus gnats (true flies in the Family Mycetophilidae) were living on the mushrooms of Agrocybe parasitica; the fungus was infesting a lacebark (Hoheria sp.). The flies are tiny, so I’ve cropped the original photographs heavily; I’ve also rotated them to provide a better view (these individuals were  upside down on the membrane that covers the gills of the fungus during the early stages of its development). Identifying mycetophilids is difficult without examining them under a microscope (and being able to interpret arcane literature!), but I have it on good authority that these are probably in the genus Mycetophila.
[27 February 2014, Olympus OM-D EM-1, 60 mm f2.8 Macro , ISO 200, 1/200 at f8 with diffused flash]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

23 February 2014

Fiddlehead, No. 1 Line track

I'm fascinated by the diversity of shapes and forms of plants. Some draw me back; they call out to be noticed. 'Photograph me!' this unfolding fern frond seemed to say.

Easy to see why they're called fiddleheads.

[23 February 2014, Olympus OM-D EM-1, 12-40 mm f2.8 at 26 mm, ISO 200, 1/15 at f2.8]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

20 February 2014

A better model for a soft toy?

Relatively Retiring apparently has plans to make soft toys inspired by a couple of earlier photographs (here and here). I'm sure her grand-daughter would be delighted with either version, but in case a more, ..., er, ... conventional soft toy might be needed, this might be a better model. It's a porina moth — the host of one of the other models.*

(My sense of humour might be unusual, but you can't say I don't have one.)

* Actually, the moth isn't at risk — the fly parasitises the caterpillars.

[19 February 2014, Olympus OM-D EM-1, 60 mm f2.8 Macro , ISO 200, 1/80 at f5.6; focus stacked]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

18 February 2014

The Ngamoko Range from Tunupo

On Sunday I made it to the summit of Tunupo, the highest point of the Ngamoko Range. This range is an offshoot of the main Ruahine Range, although it's considerably higher than the Ruahine in this southern part of the Forest Park. I brewed Lapsang Souchong, sat cross-legged in the mist scribbling notes, photographed gentians and Celmisia and these kinds of views, and thought of Chinese hermits and other things. Snufkin would have been perfectly at home, and so was I.

[16 February 2014, Olympus OM-D EM-1, 1240 mm f2.8 at 17 mm , ISO 200, 1/500 at f11]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

16 February 2014


Mayflies belong to the insect Order Ephemeroptera. The name refers to the adult's ephemeral lifespan, which is measured at most in days — sometimes as little as a few hours. Living longer would be difficult because the adults have vestigial mouthparts, meaning they can't feed. They're unique in being the only insects to have two flying stages: the subadult and adult.

Those crazy-looking orange turban-like things are the upper part of the eyes. This differentiation of the eyes into upper and lower parts is present only in the males.

This individual was sitting on a lemonwood leaf near the edge of the terrace, several hundred metres from the nearest stream. I suspect he had a lousy Valentine's day.

[14 February 2014, Olympus OM-D EM-1, 60 mm f2.8 Macro , ISO 400, 1/200 at f7.1]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

14 February 2014


This is an old photograph (Boxing Day 2005) but still one of the best I have of a stoat.

Most New Zealanders seem unable to think of stoats as anything but unmitigated evil. This is understandable because their effects on our native wildlife have been catastrophic. It's also sad, because their astonishing agility, seemingly boundless energy, and indomitable — and pugnacious — attitude make them worthy of respect. In my eyes these characteristics make them beautiful, too. I see no inconsistency in accepting the need to rid New Zealand of stoats while also appreciating these remarkable and beautiful animals.

For the record, this stoat was completely wild and unrestrained (possibly in all senses) and had not been habituated to humans. Mostly I was lucky, but I do claim credit for having recognised the alarm calls of the birds, which alerted me to the stoat's presence.

[26 December 2005, Canon 20D, 300 mm f4 L IS, ISO 200, 1/160s at f4]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

10 February 2014

Speargrass on the Tunupo track, Ngamoko range

One of the less pleasant aspects of the tops of the Ngamoko and Ruahine ranges is this plant — speargrass (also known by other common names, not all publishable). The genus is Aciphylla; this is probably A. colensoi. Various species of speargrass can be found, usually unwittingly and painfully, throughout New Zealand's mountains. When they're flowering/seeding like this, they're relatively easy to avoid, but the non-flowering plant is much harder to spot, usually being nestled in among the snowgrass, and the leaves are every bit as tough and needle-like as the daggers you see here.

[28 January 2014, Olympus OM-D EM-1, 12–40 mm f2.8 at 12 mm, ISO 200, 1/640 at f5.6]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

06 February 2014

Ancistrocerus gazella — the European tube wasp

Most summers I have lots of these beautiful little wasps frequenting the verandah, but this year they've been noticeably scarce. This is only the second one I can recall seeing this summer.

[6 February 2014, Olympus OM-D EM-1, 60 mm f2.8 Macro , ISO 200, 1/100 at f8]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

03 February 2014

Dawn light from Leon Kinvig hut

In the late afternoon of New Year's day, rain began. I tried to relax, tried not to think about the river crossing the next morning. If the river flooded, I wouldn't try crossing — it was as simple as that. I'd left instructions with a friend and if I didn't manage to contact her by my time-out deadline she'd ring the cops. They'd send a helicopter over my route and check the log books at Toka Biv and Leon Kinvig, where they'd either find me or find an entry saying the river had gone down enough to cross so I'd be heading out via Knights Track. They'd find me easily enough.

So, I relaxed in the hut that evening, tried to enjoy the sound of the rain on the roof, wrote extensively in the cahier. Just on dark, the rain stopped. In the morning the river seemed not to have risen at all and I was treated to this view from just outside the hut.

[2 January 2014, Olympus OM-D EM-1, 12–40 mm at 19 mm, ISO 200, 1/8 at f7.1]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

01 February 2014

Dusk, Pohangina valley

Dusk can be a particularly beautiful time of day. The light changes so fast that speed's important when photographing — speed in terms of photographing quickly; speed in terms of a high ISO when the tripod's back in the house.

[30 January 2014, Olympus OM-D EM-1, 12-40 mm f2.8 at 24 mm, ISO 1600, 1/20 at f5.6]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor