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Wordless Wednesday: Thirsty

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Kea – “The Clown of the Mountains”

Kea are found in the South Island of New Zealand, and they’re the world’s only alpine parrot, also known as “the clown of the mountains”.

They are particularly inquisitive and cheeky; with a fondness of shiny objects such as car mirrors. The photo of the Kea sitting on the mirror of my car in Arthurs Pass had tried to grab a bag of chips out of the car.

There are only 1,000 to 5,000 kea left and they are listed as “At risk” . They nest on the ground in burrows and because of that are at risk from stoats and possums. Their trusting behaviour also makes them at threat from humans.

No, I didn’t use my zoom lense to take these photos. The keas just let me get very close to them.

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Motenau Beach

I’ve written about Motenau Beach before in a previous post: https://diannesphotojournal.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/penguin-spotting-at-motunau/. This time I took the girls and some friends there. We still didn’t find any penguins, but did find some more penguin nesting boxes and plenty of this bird (click on the photos to see larger photos), which I haven’t figure out exactly what they are yet. It could be a Pied Shag…

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Motunau Island (only accessible by DoC staff) is home to 35,000 birds including the white-flippered penguin, fairy prions, white-faced storm petrels, sooty shearwaters,yellow-eyed penguins, oystercatchers, and white-fronted ferns.

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Lots of fossils, strange looking rocks, and driftwood like these litter parts of the beach:

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There are more photos on my Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97210148@N08/sets/72157638426243586/

Northern Royal Albatross (Toroa) Spotting at Taiaroa Head

Tairaroa Head, at the end of the Otago Peninsula (30 minutes drive from Dunedin, New Zealand’s most southern city), is the only mainland place in the world to view Northern Royal Albatrosse (listed as an endangered specie) in their natural habitat. We went there twice—once during the day, and once at dusk—to see if we could see an albatross or two (as well as a little blue penguin or two). The wing span of the albatross can be three metres wide, so you are definitely going to know if you see one or not.

No luck either time, unlike Dean and his girls who just stand there for a while (in probably the same place we did) and one flies past. I’m envious. I guess it gives us a good reason to go back again.

It’s currently nesting time, and the nests are on the other side of the cliff from where we were. If you visit the Royal Albatross Centre  and do a tour, then you can visit the viewing observatory to see them.

We did see hundreds of red-billed gulls and lots of other birds. The bird in this photo is a gull, but you can pretend it’s an albatross if you like. I was thinking of photoshopping in an albatross, but then that would be cheating.

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Taiaroa Head also has a strong historical connection. From Maori settlement in the 1300’s to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi: the establishment of the lighthouse and fortifications in the late 1800’s, and its use as a defence base during World War I and II. I’m not entirely sure, but it appears the only way to visit Fort Taiaroa is by doing a tour of the Royal Albatross Centre. Yet another reason to visit the area again.

Pathblocker or Personal Greeter?

On our recent trip to Dunedin I took the girls to Allans Beach as I had read that it was abundant with wildlife, particularly sea lions and penguins.

We didn’t expect to be greeted at the entrance of the beach with our own personal greeter blocking our path. This sea lion was huge; the biggest I’ve seen, and seemed to quite enjoy trying to intimidate us by waddling towards us, stopping, and starting again. He did that three times, and each time, we started back tracking. After a while, he decided to turn around and go for a walk on the beach instead. You can click on each of these photos to see how big he was…

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One of the juvenile sea lions we saw:

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This bird is a variable oyster catcher. There were four of them and they were quite noisy. Check out his bright red eyes.

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We unfortunately had no luck spotting a penguin.