Looking back on this year, I have taken loads of photos of birds and shared some of them here. They are not normally my strong point. They move fast, hide in trees, soar into the skies – they’re damn hard to focus on, let alone get sharp! But as with all things, you can get better if you practice. And that is what I’ve done this year. There are so many birds in the garden where I’m renting, and I have taken every opportunity to take photos. The ones from earlier in the year are mostly blurred but I have gotten better. Focus and determination.
And that was a real blessing when I went to New Zealand. I didn’t expect birds to be something I would photograph a lot – I’m not sure why!? I was also glad that I’ve invested time this year taking bird shots, I needed to rely on those skills!
What have I learnt about myself and my photography?
If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that as part of my ongoing feature series for 2018, I have a go at reflecting on my learning each month in connection with my photography.
- About myself? I’m persistent and I persevere. Not really new learning, but making myself aware once again of my values. A while back, I took an online Character Strengths type of test (by The Via Institute on Character) as a bit of fun. I dutifully answered the questions, having no idea what would come out. I was very pleasantly surprised by the results. “Perseverance” (as in persevering in a course of action in spite of obstacles; taking pleasure in completing tasks) was in my top five. Yup, that’s me.
- About my photography? Earlier this year, I had some revelation about my landscape photos. Whilst I cannot, in all honesty, say that I am developing a style with regards to my bird photos, I can say that I have least progressed to a decent composition but above all, they are sharp and focussed. That practice and perseverance have paid off. At least I did not come back from New Zealand disappointed with my efforts.
Here’s a selection of my favourites from the multitude that I took!
Impressionistic Bullers albatross
I loved this one because it looks like an impressionist painting or as if I’ve edited the background in some way. I haven’t. The water was just an amazing texture – perhaps from the breeze? We saw albatrosses when we went on a boat cruise on Otago Harbour – I was beside myself with excitement.
Are you angry with me?
Love the expression on his face! Reminds me of Orville from The Rescuers animated movie… It is so hard to focus on moving birds whilst bobbing up and down on a boat in the open ocean. But I braced myself and did it!
Another species in danger
We visited Penguin Place (on the Otago Peninsular) to view these yellow-eyed penguins in the wild. We only managed to see one in the wild in the time we had. This one was in the hospital, as he’d been bitten by a sea lion and was recovering.
It saddens me to hear how many bird species are in danger around the world. Many of their habitats are in danger because of our farming or fishing activities. Why do we have to be som destructive?
I have never encountered red-billed gulls before my trip to NZ. I was completely taken with them, especially their beautiful spotty tails. I watched this one for about 10 minutes, determined to get the food out of this shell.
“And I dream I can spread my wings / Flying high, high, I’m a bird in the sky
I’m an eagle that rides on the breeze / High, high, what a feeling to fly
Over mountains and forests and seas / And to go anywhere that I please”
[Song: Eagle by Abba]
This shot immediately made me think of a favourite ABBA song from my teenage years.
Bigger than I thought
I read about the kea (New Zealand mountain parrot) before I went to NZ, but I was surprised at how big they are – and inquisitive/naughty. Someone had left their car window open and the birds were keen to get inside to see what they could find. The New Zealand Birds Online website says: “Their attraction to people and their paraphernalia is a two-edged sword, providing both new threats and new opportunities.” I also loved their colourful tail feathers – rich reds, golds and greens. You would not think it from a look at their front view.
White Heron aka Kotuku
We were told this was a white heron, hope so! Apparently, these are rare birds and have critical status, so we were lucky to see this one. The fringy feathers are part of their breeding plumage and this one looks to have just started growing his in. The only one of the bunch that is not as sharp as I’d like it to be.
Tiny silvereyes and fluffy pigeons
I’m not entirely sure, but these little birds may be silvereyes. The pigeon sneaks into the gallery because of his sheer fluffiness!
So there you have it, my birds of New Zealand and another feature series for 2018! Any thoughts? I’d love to hear from you, let’s start a conversation.
To read other features in this series, have a look at the list at the end of this post. All photos © Deborah Ann Stott 2018