29 January 2016

Waxeye on the Tunupo Track

As kids, we knew these little birds as waxeyes, and Mum used to put out fat for them. She had a particular fondness for them and went to some lengths to make sure the food she left wouldn't be cleaned up by larger, pushier birds like starlings.

I photographed this one — part of a small flock — on the Tunupo Track  in the Ruahine Range just over a fortnight ago.

The more usual common name among the bird people is 'silvereye'. If you want to be exact, the scientific name is Zosterops lateralis ssp. lateralis, but that's too much of a mouthful for me. I think I'll stick with 'waxeye'.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

20 January 2016

Deer on my doorstep

I'd just eaten a couple of cherries—one of the great delights of summer in Aotearoa—and was thinking about Thingumy and Bob. Before the light faded completely, I stepped out the back door to enjoy the evening. The hill paddock, lit by the last sunlight, had turned orange-pink, and I saw several animals grazing there. I looked harder, then grabbed the binoculars. The animals were four wild red deer: three hinds and a fawn.

This time I grabbed the camera, and although they were a long way off, some careful photographing and cropping produced some pleasing photographs.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

15 January 2016

Aotearoa's smallest bird

Yesterday I walked partway up the Tunupo Track. I'd made an early start and had intended heading for the summit, or at least the snowgrass. But I kept encountering things to photograph — notably, titipounamu (the rifleman, Acanthisitta chloris). I don't know how many I met, because I couldn't be sure I wasn't seeing the same family on at least some occasions, but I never tired of having them check me out — and they certainly did that, coming close for a good look each time before carrying on with their feeding.

Despite their close approach, or perhaps because of it, photographing wasn't easy. Most of the time they flitted about among the foliage, and even when they explored a trunk, searching for caterpillars and other morsels, they seldom paused. Of the photographs I did manage, this is one of the better ones. This is a male; the females look distinctly different, but they're both tiny — hardly bigger than my thumb — and irresistibly cute.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

13 January 2016

'I see you' — cattle on No 1 Line

About a month ago a small herd of heifers (and one or two steers) grazed the car park at the end of No. 1 Line. In the manner of all adolescent cattle, they couldn't restrain their curiosity, and checked me out — nervously, of course. I'd biked there, so I stood very still, leaning against my bike, while they gathered round. Eventually, the bravest one, or the most curious, came close enough to dab its muzzle on my hand. It wasn't this one, though.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

09 January 2016

The No. 1 Line track

This is where the No. 1 Line track ends. Well, this is where DOC's maintenance of the track ends; the old track continues right through to Kiritaki hut on the other side of the Ruahine Range, but that's negotiable thanks to the efforts of volunteers from the local tramping club.

This is a panorama stitched from three photographs. I originally stitched six together, but realised it was pointless when viewed on a computer monitor. A print running most of the length of a room would be a different story.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

02 January 2016


A few mayflies have been appearing lately, and I always enjoy the sight. They seem strange and ancient (and they are — they're the most primitive winged insects), and, close up, they remind me of something mechanical, like machines from a science fiction film.

I found this one, a female in the first of its two adult stages (mayflies are the only insects to have two adult stages), on the wall of the house this morning. (I've rotated the photograph 90° counter-clockwise.)

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor