The past few weeks have been an absolute blur. I’ve been busy updating this website, making changes to my YouTube channel, and putting in some long hours working on my upcoming bird photography eBook. This article features a selection of New Zealand North Island bird photography images that I captured hand-held during our most recent trip. I did the best I could identifying the species in the photographs featured in this article. If any readers notice any incorrect bird identifications, please feel free to correct me as needed!
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
The main focus of our photography while on the North Island of New Zealand was landscape images. I brought my Nikon 1 V3 and 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm on the trip just in case we got some opportunities to photograph some birds. While at the Blue Spring we happened upon a Pukeko feeding along the water’s edge, which yielded the image above (a note of thanks to Russel Parkinson for correcting my error with species identification).
While having a picnic lunch on the outskirts of Coromandel Town I noticed some rapid movement in the bushes. I quickly grabbed my V3 and discovered a couple of California quail. The birds ran up the edge of a cement stairway. I was able to capture the image above after positioning myself so I could shoot upwards towards some buildings off in the distance. This helped blur them nicely, resulting in good subject separation of the California quail.
Native New Zealand birds have been under pressure from non-native mammal species like possums, rats and stoats for quite some time. If you want to photograph birds specifically during a trip to New Zealand, it is advisable to visit specific sanctuaries and protected areas. The Seabird Coast, where the above image of a white-faced heron in flight was taken, is one of the sanctuary areas on the North Island in New Zealand.
My wife and I both enjoy the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour and we made it a point to visit the site again during this trip. An added bonus at the end of our tour was discovering an Australian coots with its chick along the shore of a small pond at the tour site.
Our visit to the Blue Spring also yielded a few photographs of a Paradise shelduck. I captured the photograph above just before it began to rain.
During our drive from Napier to Taihape we stopped to have lunch along the shore of Lake Taupo in the town of Motuoapa. I spotted some black swans with their signets, and walked out on a long dock to investigate, capturing the above image.
While we were exploring the Kerikeri area we had a chance sighting of a Tui feeding. I had to shoot towards the sun, resulting in the Tui’s head and underside being heavily shaded. I spent a bit more time in post than I normally would trying to make the image usable. The Spot Weighted DxO Smart Lighting tool was helpful with this photo.
As noted in an earlier article, the Blue Spring also provided us with the opportunity to photograph a New Zealand fantail.
During our drive through Whanganui we stopped at the Winter Garden on Virginia Lake for a picnic lunch. We went for a stroll along the shoreline where I captured the above image of a New Zealand scaup. The birds in this area are used to humans so I was able to get reasonably close to the scaup.
Even house sparrows can be interesting photographic subjects, especially if they venture close enough as the one in the photograph above did. I captured this image while sitting on a picnic table at the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour staging area while we waited for our bus.
When photographing birds I try my best to compose images with backgrounds that can help highlight my subject bird. Moving about 3 metres (~10 feet) to my right allowed me to frame the red billed gull in the above image against a monochromatic green background. Luckily the gull cooperated and gave me a nice pose.
Photographing birds always has an element of luck involved in terms of being in the right place at the right time. While we didn’t get a huge number of bird images during our last visit to New Zealand, we did manage to capture some usable photographs.
If you enjoyed the images in this article and are interested in viewing more New Zealand information and photographs, you may enjoy our eBook, New Zealand Tip-to-Tip. It is available for purchase and download at a cost of $12.99 Canadian.
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held in available light using Nikon 1 gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.
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