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


Lisa Emerson said...

Lovely! I've never seen one of these. Are they only found in deep bush?

Zhoen said...

"Hi Pete!"
"hi pete"
"Hi pete!"

Jono said...

Nice shot! Looks like his nails need a trim.

pohanginapete said...

Lisa, they seem to be restricted to extensive stands of mature forest. Nevertheless, I've seen them up the No. 1 Line track, and that's hugely modified forest; however, it does have a few big podocarps and some mature tawa. The Tunupo track, though, is the closest thing I know to being a sure bet to see riflemen, and by the time you get to where the riflemen hang out, you're a good hour or more inside the bush.

Zhoen, thanks! I can imagine that vividly. Or some other phrasing I'm less keen on imagining ;-)

Jono — true! It's amazing what those nails let them cling to, though.