Readers’ wildlife photos

February 22, 2022 • 9:00 am

Today’s photos come from the North Island of New Zealand and were taken by Chris Taylor. His captions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

In response to your request I’ve been looking through my photos for some you might be able to use.  To start off with, here’s a set of photos from New Zealand, from a trip I made to the North Island a few years ago.
First, a panorama of the active volcano Mt Tongariro.  It looks peaceful enough, but you can see steam issuing from two vents in the volcano’s slopes.
New Zealand Dotterel, Charadrius obscurus.  Also known by its Maori name of Tuturiwhat.

New Zealand Pigeon or Kereru, Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae:

Grey Duck or Pārera, Anas superciliosa.  Although known in Australia as the Pacific Black Duck and Grey Duck in New Zealand, there is almost no black in the plumage.  It is very closely related to the Mallard, and will interbreed with introduced birds.

Red Billed Gull or tarāpung, Larus novaehollandiae. Also called Pacific Silver gull in Australia.

Pied Stilt or Koaka , Himantopus himantopus . Two photos taken at the Hell’s Gate Thermal area near Rotorua.The birds were feeding in the warm water of the springs, and it was a couple of minutes before I saw the chicks – they were quite camouflaged against the volcanic rocks!

Pohutukawa treeMetrosideros excelsa.

Photos from the Pūkorokoro / Miranda shorebird reserve.  Flocks of Bar-tailed Godwit/Kuaka Limosa lapponica, Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres, Wrybill/Ngutuparore Anarhynchus frontalis  and others.  I was there at low tide, not the best time to see the birds!  This is looking out across the flats and the Firth of Thames to the hills of the Coromandel Peninsula.   This is a vital area for many of the migrant species that arrive in New Zealand, as they can feed here to build up their bodies after the rigors of their flight.  The Bar-Tailed Godwit or Kuaka is the world champion when it comes to migration, traveling from NZ to Alaska and back each year.  The Northward flight usually goes via Indonesia and China, but the southward return to Pūkorokoro is often done non-stop.  Last year, one bird known as 4BBRW, was fitted with a tracker and was observed to make a 12,050km non-stop flight.

Silver FernAlsophila dealbata, in Rotorua.  One of the Floral Emblems of New Zealand.

House Sparrow, Passer domesticus.  Introduced by the British after colonisation.  This one was flying around as we sat having coffee at a cafe in Whitianga.

Tui, Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae:

10 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Beautiful pictures! So interesting to see the different species and lovely landscapes.

    I was especially intrigued with the Bar-Tailed Godwit’s long migratory route. That non-stop distance is unimaginable. I had to look them up to find out more. I found they are not unique in their amazing migrations. Another bird you mentioned, the Ruddy Turnstone, is also a medal-qualifier in the Avian Olympics.

    From Ruddy Turnstones need to fly fast to cover the enormous distances between their breeding and nonbreeding grounds. Flight speeds of turnstones average between 27 and 47 miles per hour.

    Also….from same source: Young turnstones need to grow up and learn to fly quickly. They take their first flight when they are around 19 days old and fly thousands of miles to the nonbreeding grounds 2 days later. To make things harder, their parents will have departed by this time, leaving the youngsters to make their first migration on their own.

  2. These were fantastic. Is the Tui a nectar feeder, or is it doing something else regarding the flowers by its bill? I love the red circle around the red billed gull’s eye- very striking.

    1. Yes, it is one of the Honeyeaters. I’m not certain, but the plant might be the Harakeke or Flax, Phormium tenax, one of the Tui’s favourite food plants. Apparently the flower has evolved to the shape of the bird’s bill, so now Tui is the main pollinator of the species.

      1. Yes, I was on my daily walk a week or two back, and walking past a flax plant that was growing right next to the footpath (with its flower stem overhanging the footpath. I heard a Tui calling, stopped to see where it was coming from, and it flew down right next to me to feed from the flowers. Kowhai (which are also on my walk) are another favorite of theirs.

  3. Great photos, thank you.
    NZ is a particularly beautiful country. I’m glad you got to go to Hell’s Gate thermal reserve in Rotorua as well as you included the beautiful (red) pohutukawa tree, NZ’s “Christmas trees” (b/c they bloom in December).
    Although extinct since human arrival, there are a few mock ups of the huge Moa bird. To wit:
    NYC (formerly of Auckland)

Leave a Reply