Thursday, February 26, 2009

Birds and Boats

A quick review: I’m into birds. Unfortunately most of New Zealand’s terrestrial birds were flightless or otherwise hopelessly ill-adapted to predators. The vast majority went extinct when people brought over dogs, rats, stoats and the like 1,000 or so years ago. A few exceptions exist on smaller islands and drastic efforts have been put forth to try to save some of the more critically endangered species (see ‘ejaculation helmet’ from the last entry).

Here’s a cute little parrot called a Kakarito. I found loads of them on Matiu/Somes Island a small island in Wellington sound.

I took a break from exploring and birding to shoot down some enemy aircrafts from the one the island’s four never-used anti-air turret bunkers form WWII.

This isn’t just a fantastic example of my photography skills, it’s also a Saddlebird, a species that hasn’t bred on the mainland for centuries until it was recently reintroduced into a ‘mainland island,’ basically a large reserve surrounded by a massive ‘vermin fence’ and packed with special feeders and everything these fragile unafraid rarities could possibly need to survive and reproduce.

Take this guy, a New Zealand Robin. He will practically jump underneath your boots as you’re walking hopefully you’ll startle up some insects for him to munch on. Now as say a feral cat this throws the entire stalking strategy out the window. To eat one of the these guys all you would need to do is turn over a few leaves and shake a few tree branches, that is if you can find one!

I saw loads of pelagic birds on the ferry between the north and south islands, but I didn’t take any pictures (they would have just looked like clouds and ocean) so who cares!

The Marlborough Sound at the northeastern tip of the South Island is quite gorgeous. And nearly as soon as I got off one ferry, I got on another out to the Queen Charlotte Track to hike (or “tramp” as they call it here) through some amazing lush vegetation with some fantastic views of the sound.

My Camera doesn’t really do much justice to the gorgeous placid turquoise water or the 20 foot tall tree ferns, but I found an old oil drum that made a decent ledge so I could include myself in a picture. Look how excited I am. Go 10 second timer!

After a night camping out in the bush it was on to Nelson where I spent last night. As soon as I get this post up, I’ll stick my thumb out to try and hitch a ride to this whitewater kayaking festival in Murchison.

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