Wednesday, February 23, 2011

David Attenborough classic clip

David Attenborough is undoubtably one of my heroes, and so I thought I'd make a quick post with a video I found online today. It's a classic clip of him in Madagascar in the early days of his work as a BBC wildlife presenter, as he explains in the clear and eloquent way that has been the hallmark of his illustrious career about the Leaf-tailed Gecko.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Opua Pelagic trip

Last weekend Sandra and I headed on a 6 hour drive to the northern most extreme in New Zealand, appropriately named Northland. 

After we arrived we set up camp in the town of Kerikeri and got a well earned night's rest. Then were up at 5:30 to head to the jetty in Opua, about 35 minutes south.

We set out from Opua, Bay of Islands, on a very calm and clear morning on a very comfortable boat - a nice combination of conditions...

Our goal was to head out about 30km offshore to a 400m deep canyon that cuts in from the deep blue water much furher out. As our boat was a bit slow it took us about 2 hours to get out there. But we had a good time spotting birds on the way.

We passed huge flocks of Fluttering Shearwaters and even passed a Gannet colony before we got into the open water. But first, here are a few photos...

We stopped on the way out at a small island to pick up an extra person, and the jetty had a few dozen of White-fronted Terns loafing on it.

White-fronted Terns

White-fronted Terns lazing around

As we began to enter more open water a few Arctic Skua flew past (both light and dark phases) as they harried the terns for their lunch.

light phase Arctic Skua

A few Little Penguins floated along as we motored past. Note the typical way of lying low-in-the-water.

Then we started passing a few Buller's Shearwaters...

Buller's Shearwater

...and a few Flesh-footed Shearwaters came in for a closer look at the boat.

Flesh-footed Shearwater
Some even had a go at snorkeling. Haha, nah they're just after the fish bits we threw overboard.

Flesh-footed Shearwater searching for fish scrap

This species can be hard to tell apart from the next one, but look closely at the beak - notice a difference? I'll explain more in a later post about this initially challenging ID.

Parkinson's (Black) Petrel

Parkinson's (Black) Petrel

Parkinson's (Black) Petrel

And of course this beauty should be carefully observed also...


And here was the most enjoyable bird of the trip. Such a dainty bird hardly bigger than a sparrow that seems to hop and skip on the water, gracefully dancing as it searches for krill and other arthropods to feed on.

White-faced Storm-Petrel dancing on the water
White-faced Storm-Petrel dancing on the water
White-faced Storm-Petrel dancing on the water

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable trip! A big thanks to Detlef Davies for organising everything, bringing the burley to attract some of the birds, and for letting us camp in his beautiful garden!