Leander  Class Prop

Prop from HMNZS Canterbury (F421), a Leander Class frigate built in 1969 by Yarrow Shipbuilders. She served in the NZ Navy until 2005.


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Storm Season

It’s going to get wet.

Twenty minutes later:


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Eye Contact

I was editing the pictures from the zoo, deep in the geekery of levels and saturation and tone colour. I glanced back at this image and my visceral, limbic predator response fired. “I have been spotted by an apex predator and I am so fucked.”

I think this is the single best picture I have ever taken. It deserves its own post.

Bengal tiger stalking photographer

“I have seen you and I will eat you and you will die.”

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The new lens is regarded by some as the best lens for zoo photography in the world. There’s a rather good zoo an hour or so from here. They have tigers.

In this case, they had one tiger which they had just moved into an enclosure on its own. It was sniffing around and quite literally peeing in all the corners. Some portraits:

Tiger licking nose

Licking its nose. The vomeronasal organ was getting a good wotkout.

Bengal tiger portrait

Bengal tiger. She’s seen something.

Bengal tiger portrait

Looking pensive

Bengal tiger portrait

Looking at the camera

Tiger with mouth open

“Why are you eating grass?”
“Because I’m a tiger and can do anything I want.”
“Ok then.”

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We’ve got your giraffes right here.

A friend from work has a niece or god-daughter or some-such. Apparently, said child has a thing for giraffes. When I mentioned we were going to the zoo this weekend, my colleague asked for giraffe pictures.

Happy to oblige, Erica.

Three Giraffes

Three Giraffes

Three Giraffes

Three more giraffes.

Giraffe in profile

Giraffe in profile

Giraffe looking at camera

Staring at the camera

Three giraffes

Another picture of three giraffes

Giraffe eating leaves

Nibbling some leaves

Giraffe family portrait

Sharing from the haybag

Giraffe nibbling bare branches

No leaves left

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We came across a pair of Masked Lapwings today. They are thinking about making a nest. Actually, that is far too sophisticated a description. These birds are legendarily fuckwitted. Just have a look at their tiny little heads and consider the tiny volume that has to contain their entire minds while leaving space for an advanced avionics package. Deep thinkers they are not.

They nest on the ground, choosing (although that verb gives them far too much credit) a location in the open clear of undergrowth. I assume this is because they hate their chicks and want to facilitate faster predation. Having selected a spot, they scoop out a shallow indentation (if they remember) and start laying. Last year a pair decided that a random spot in the middle of the car park was just the ticket. You really have to wonder how that behaviour evolved in.

The pair we met today seemed to have selected a location and were scratching around in the leaf litter in a fairly desultory manner. As we approached to within about 30 metres they started their other signature behaviour: vicious defence of their rubbish location against all interlopers by any means necessary.

They both took off (leaving their laughable ‘nest’ entirely undefended – I told you – complete shitwits) and started strafing us from altitude. While Other Bloggers retreated to avoid stressing the birds too much, I pointed the long lens at them and started shooting.

Masked Lapwing swooping


Masked Lapwing swooping

Swoop! again.

Masked Lapwing in flight

Making another pass

Masked Lapwing in flight

Wings on the upbeat

We left them alone after a few minutes. No matter how entertaining it is to annoy sub-sentient avians, it does come at a large cost to their energy budget. We watched them terrorize some noisy miners, a magpie lark (which is neither a magpie nor a lark), a currawong, several turtles and a duck. Speaking of ducks, this one was being photogenic.

Male Hardhead (Aythya australis)

Male Hardhead (Aythya australis)

Male Hardhead (Aythya australis)


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Australian White Ibis

This new lens (the Canon EF 100-400mm L IS II) is nothing short of brilliant.

Australian White ibis

Australian White ibis

Obligatory Arty Black and White shot:

White Ibis black and white

Art, that is.

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Coot Chick

The coots have had an excellent start to the breeding season with six chicks hatched and none lost so far.

They are now about 4-5 weeks old and are starting to wonder what their wings are for. I think it will be a while before this one works it out.

Coot Chick

“Mummy, what are these for? I flap them and flap them and nothing happens.”

Also: look at its feet!

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Swifts hunt late in the afternoons over the new lake at the botanical gardens. They fly in great swooping turns, then dart along the surface, occasionally diving down to grab a hapless insect.

They’re a challenge to capture. Small, very fast and crossing the field of vision you have to spot them by eye, lift the camera at wide zoom, keep them centred as you zoom in, pan like hell and hope the autofocus is fast enough. The light is fading this late in the afternoon, so the ISO ramps up and the water starts to get noisy.

But, like much photography, take enough pictures and you’ll get a few worth sharing.

Swift flying over water

Swift over water


Swifts over water

Caught a pair

Swift hunting insects

Making a Splash

Swift flying

Flying away from the lens

Swift water splash

Caught one!

Swift fishing splash

In a cloud of droplets

Swift flying over water

Putting power on after a dive

Swift flying

This is why we wait for the afternoon sun

Swift in fast turn

Banking hard

The new lens is bloody awesome.

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A duck.

Duck beating wings

A duck, beating its wings.

A moorhen, taking objection to something. They do that a lot. Their binominal classification is Galinula tenebrosa, which sounds like a spell from Hogwarts.

Moorhen Galinula tenebrosa

Galinula tenebrosa

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