December 10, 2013 … restorative therapy

You were warned.

My last words in yesterday’s edition related to a need for feathers. This is not some strange fetish (well, perhaps it is), and no tar is involved. Where were all the birds? It seemed to me that many of the birds whose presence I had enjoyed through the winter were absent. Armed with the long lens, and a set of gumboots (UK = “wellies”, US = “rain boots”) I went looking. Traversing the somewhat narrow and winding Gray’s Road around the Northern side of the Pauatahanui Inlet, I spotted a gaggle of Royal Spoonbills basking on a sandbank. Having found one of the few parking spots  on this road, I donned the boots and began my sneaky trip through the reeds towards their resting place. Others have been here before me, so I was careful to follow their path to avoid further damage to the plants.

Spoonbills and plovers

There seems to be some sort of mutually beneficial relationship between the Spoonbills and the plovers. The spoonbills gain a watch dog, but I am unsure what the plovers get out of it.

The birds were snoozing, several of them standing one-legged, pointed into the wind, but with their extraordinary bills laid along their back. Because they are still in breeding plumage the wind was spreading the plumes on the back of their head like a fan.

Spur-winged plovers in flight

A flock of plovers that have been spooked are extremely noisy.

I thought I was being very stealthy, but I was detected. Just as jackals follow the lion, spur-winged plovers seem to stay close to the spoonbills. It was these that raised the alarm, and suddenly the sky was filled with flapping wings and shrieking alarm calls.

The spoonbills edge towards the water

One of these is known as Fonzarelli for sure … the ultimate in avian cool

Now alert, the spoonbills began sidling towards the water but trying to look cool casual about it. I crouched down in the reeds and they appeared to settle.

Spoonbills fly to quieter places

They are very elegant in flight

Unfortunately they were much too skittish by now and the moment I put my head up, they were airborne. I don’t approve of flushing birds to get flight shots and won’t do it deliberately, but if they do fly I won’t miss the opportunity to try for the shot.

Canada geese

The family come ashore for a picnic

From there, it was on to Motukaraka Point hoping that the absentee kingfishers might have returned. They hadn’t. On the other hand there was a gaggle of Canada geese picking around at the water’s edge, and with them a family of still unfledged goslings.

That was a happy bird day.


About wysiwygpurple

I am a family man, a passionate amateur photographer and a retired academic . What's the purpose of this blog? Well in the first instance it provides me with a platform from which to resume writing, an activity I greatly enjoy. What will the blog be about? Anything that takes my fancy but it is likely to arise from things I see and experience, in my family, in my travels, or anything else I feel like. Each daily post will contain one or more images made the previous day. Sometimes the image will illustrate the points made in the prose, and sometimes the prose will attempt to interpret the image. What kind of images will they be? Always safe for work and family. Usually they will be representational, and sometimes they will be impressionistic or experimental.
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