Friday, November 18, 2016

New Zealand - Nov 2016


Muriwai beach, an hours drive from Auckland, is famous for its large Gannet Colony where you can get as close as a metre away from the birds.

404. Red-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus scopulinus)
Smallish Gull. Seems to be comfortable with Scavenging. Despite seeming ubiquitous all over in New Zealand, we learned that their numbers are declining in the recent past.

405. Australian Gannet (Morus Serrator)
The young chicks train themselves to fly (hover, actually) in the strong winds offering some really easy photo opportunities.


A cycle trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown yielded a rich set of birds to this collection.

406. Pacific Black Duck (Anas Superciliosa)
Pacific Black Duck is also called the Grey Duck and can be seen all over the country. One of the most widespread ducks at one time, it is now getting replaced by the introduced Mallard. Maori name: pārera.

407. Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
One of the largest members of the grebe family, this is a widespread species in New Zealand.

408. Pied Shag (Phalacrocorax varius)
The Australian Pied Cormorant is also called the Pied Shag, or Karuhiruhi in Maori. This photo is from Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown.

409. New Zealand Scaup (Aythya novaeseelandiae)
Also known as Black Teal. Endemic to New Zealand.

410. Eurasian Blackbird - Juvenile (Turdus merula)
Introduced species, the Eurasian blackbird is one of the most widespread birds in the country.

411. Southern Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Much bigger than the red-billed or the black-billed variants.

318. Mallard - Male 
Mallard in Queenstown, New Zealand. These are an introduced species in NZ and are now considered invasive because they are replacing the local Grey Duck.

412. Black-billed Gull (Larus bulleri)
The apparent ubiquity of this species may convince you otherwise but this bird is classified as "Nationally Critical". It's said to be the most threatened Gull species in the world.

413. Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Introduced by the Brits, the Chaffinch seems to have colonised almost all of New Zealand.

Doubtful Sound

Technically a fiord, Doubtful Sound is located in the Fiordland area in the west coast of New Zealand and home to the Fiordland Crested Penguins, among other charismatic species.

414. Fiordland Crested Penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus)
This individual is from a bunch of Fiordland Crested Penguins we were lucky to find on our cruise in the Doubtful sound.

Te Anau

Small resort town in the South Island on the coast of the second largest lake in New Zealand.

410. Eurasian Blackbird - Female
415. Paradise Shelduck (Tadorna variegata)
Endemic to New Zealand. This individual was photographed on the shore of the Te Anau lake. This species is peculiar in that the female is flashier than the male.

413. Common Chaffinch - Female

416. European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
An introduced species in New Zealand. The male is characterized by a bright red face.


417. Takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri)
Thought to be extinct in the 19th century until it was rediscovered in the mid-20th, very few individuals of this species survive in the wild. This photo is taken in one of the last few reserves in which you can find this bird.

406. Pacific Black Duck - Chicks
The chicks were really comfortable with humans around them. Evolving in a predator-free environment for millions of years seems to have killed their instinct to stay safe.

418. New Zealand Pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae)
Pigeon species endemic to New Zealand, characterized by a heavy flight that generates a lot of sound.


One of the oldest towns in the South Island, Riverton was one of our stops on the way to Oban.

419. South Island Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus finschi)
Endemic to New Zealand. This individual was photographed on our brief stop at one of the beaches in Riverton.

420. Variable Oystercatcher (Haematopus unicolor)
Like the South Island Oystercatcher, this is endemic to New Zealand.


Oban, Stewart Island

Oban is a settlement in the southern most part of New Zealand, Stewart Island.

421. Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae)
Endemic passerine found all over New Zealand. Might appear black from a distance, but one closer look you'll see a whole array of colors in the plumage. Has one of the most delightful set of calls.

422. Kākā (Nestor meridionalis)
Gets its name from the Maori word for Parrot. Hard to miss them the way these birds flies around calling raucously.

Ulva Island

One of the islands near Stewart Island, boasting of a pristine untouched forest where some of New Zealand's marquee species find refuge in a sanctuary that's closely guarded against invasive species.

423. South Island Robin (Petroica australis)
Another New Zeland bird that seems unafraid of humans. Our guide cleared one patch of the ground exposing the worms under the leaves, and this individual landed right within her arm's reach to inspect and forage.

424. Morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae)
Also called the Tasmanian Spotted Owl, this bird gets its name from its call which is said to sound like "morepork".
425. New Zealand Bellbird (Anthornis melanura)
Passerine endemic to NZ. Its song is said to sound like a bell.

Otago Peninsula

Otago Peninsula near the town of Dunedin is famous for the Royal Albatross Colony, the only mainland breeding ground of the Royal Albatross.

412. Black-billed Gull - Chicks

426. Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi)
This pair was photographed in the Otago Peninsula, the only mainland breeding ground of the Northern Royal Albatross. The male was stretching his 10-ft wide wings getting ready to do his share of the fishing.

In flight
427. Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia)
Photographed on the way back from Otago Peninsula somewhere close to Dunedin.


Oamaru, on the west coast of the South Island, is famous for the colonies of Blue penguins and Yellow-eyed penguins. There was an incredible variety of inland birds in the local park too. The highlight, of course, was a late evening we spent trying to spot blue penguins returning from the sea after a day of fishing. They seem to have no problem nesting in urban areas and you could spot them crossing roads and taking shelter under sheds. 

428. Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena)
Looks very much like the pacific swallow, but I'm trusting the guide book on this one.

429. Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
Also called the Hedge Sparrow, has a slimmer beak compared to the more popular cousin, the House Sparrow. Can be hard to tell from a distance.

430. New Zealand Warbler (Gerygone igata)
Called riroriro in Maori, the NZ warbler or Grey Warbler is endemis to New Zealand.

431. Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret)
There was one bird bath in the park that was visited by all the passerine species. These redpolls were among those who visited. 


Bushy Beach Reserve, Oamaru

Bushy Beach Scenic Reserve near Oamaru, New Zealand, is famous for its colony of the endangered Yellow-eyed Penguin.

432. White-fronted Tern (Sterna striata)
While we spent an entire afternoon waiting for the yellow-eyed penguins, there was a constant procession of White-fronted terns that were presumably returning to their nests with fish in their beaks.

433. Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes)
The viewing gallery is on a 100-ft high cliff that overlooks the beach. Hence the poor quality picture.

434. Silver-eye (Zosterops lateralis)
Common across New Zealand. This one was photographed in Bushy Beach reserve while we were waiting for the Penguins.

Lake Ellesmere

435. Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen)
Introduced to New Zealand to control pests (bad mistake!) it has established itself a little too well and is now considered an invasive species. This photograph is of the subspecies called Black-backed Magpie.

436. Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)
Was reintroduced to New Zealand from Australia after the local population was hunted out.

437. Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
Initially, I had identified this as the New Zealand Pipit but it appears to be the more commonly occurring Eurasian Skylark. The NZ pipit has a much more prominent supercilium.


438. Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor)
The smallest species of Penguin. Most individuals are not even a foot high. This one in the photograph was fishing in the bay in Akaroa.

439. Spotted Shag (Phalacrocorax punctatus)
Saw the spotted shag in large numbers both at Oamaru and in Akaroa. Saw them congregate every evening on a pier in Oamaru. They would fly in before dusk and fly out just before nightfall.
The evening congregation of Spotted Shags at Oamaru

440. Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles)
Taken on the way back from Akaroa. This individual was foraging in a farm by the side of the road.

441. Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus)
The backlight on this photo is masking the colors of the Sacred Kingfisher. Spotted many individuals during our roadtrip, but unlike in my home country, it's very hard to stop and take pictures.

Miranda Shorebirds Centre

Miranda Shorebirds centre, near Auckland, is a wintering ground for a lot of arctic shorebirds. The area is very well preserved which also means that human beings, including birding enthusiasts are kept at a good distance, making photography really hard. Here are some we managed.

442. Pied Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

443. New Zealand Plover (Charadrius obscurus)
Endangered species. Photographed in Miranda Shorebirds in its non-breeding plumage.

444. Wrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis)
Can't quite tell from this grainy picture, but this species has a curved bill (curved always to the right, by the way!).

445. White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)

446. Eurasian Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
Introduced species in New Zealand.

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