Saturday, 25 January 2014

Cape Kidnappers still producing results

Well the New Zealand subantarctic was amazing!  It really was as good as I hoped it would be!  We had pretty awesome weather most of the time, with a few windy days not allowing us to zodiac at the Bounty Islands or at the Snares, but apart from that we achieved pretty much everything else.  I managed 15 new species for New Zealand, which has now taken me to the top of the stack, with 277 species seen in New Zealand.  There are a couple of species I missed (on the Snares) and a few seabirds I thought we may have seen, but overall outstanding.  Some photos are below!

It is hard to believe, that after all these years and the thousands of photos I have taken already at Cape Kidnappers gannet cony, that I could still get material out there that spins my wheels (or clicks my shutter)!  But, having just been out there with a couple of good friends (Etienne and Nick Littlefair), I managed to get some shots I am very pleased with, some that I think have a different feel to much of what I have already shot at this location.

The colonies were bustling on Thursday when we headed out there relatively early, and armed with the recently acquired 1Dx and my 400 DO and 800 f5.6 I decided to just have a little fun and see what I could get.  The 1Dx is an absolutely camera, definitely far and above the best body I have had, and a massive jump on the 1D MkIV.  Having tested it pretty well during the last month in the New Zealand sub-antarctic, I am still amazed at how razor sharp images are straight from the camera, and how incredible the autofocus tracks subjects.  So the flying gannets and action at the nesting colonies didn't stand a chance!  I shot a lot into the light, hoping to get some pleasing silhouettes and interestingly lit subjects, and I think I did!  The reach of the 800mm made for some interesting portraits as well.  We also visited the red-crowned parakeet aviaries in the Cape Sanctuary and there were lots of birds hanging around the outside, having been recently released, let's hope they do well!

I've also posted a few faves from the two NZ subantarctic trips below, and over the next few weeks am hoping to update regularly as I lead a Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ 21-day tour.

Coming in to land, the autofocus of the 1Dx is just bang on almost every time and these gannets were no match!

A young chick stretching its growing wings, lots of chicks around this season, which is great to see.

Classic shot of a pair greeting each other, but some nice light almost from behind them.

A closer shot with the 800mm as a chick flaps its wings.

Just finished feeding.

The male hybrid 'Cape gannet x Australasian gannet' bowing on the nest - this bird was the son of the original and first record of Cape gannet (from South Africa) in New Zealand.

Feeding with a red-billed gull coming in for scraps in the background.

Coming in to land, again pin sharp thanks to the 1Dx.

A red-crowned parakeet looks curiously at us near the aviaries in the Cape Sanctuary.

The view at Campbell Island, back to where the ship was anchored in Perseverance Harbour.

Orchids in flower on Campbell Island.

Another species of orchid on Campbell Island

The Pyramid on dusk as we left the Chathams

The Antipodes on approach in stunning conditions with the sun getting low.

Royal penguin in full cry on Macquarie Island

Erect-crested penguins rafting just off the Antipodes in stunning conditions.

A penguin slope on the Antipodes, covered in Erect-crested penguins.

Erect-crested penguin just up on the shore.

Taking to the water!

Stunning light in a cave we found on the Antipodes.

Kelp in the light on the edge of the cave.

An Antipodean albatross as we left the Antipodes.

Auckland Island banded dotterel amongst the herbs.

Weka peering at us on the Chathams

Auckland Island shag coming in to land.

Auckland Island dotterel in flight.

Auckland Island tomtit

Chatham albatross in flight near the Pyramid

Big male New Zealand sealion up close on the Auckland Islands.

Auckland Island snipe, a subspecies of the Subantarctic snipe.

Auckland Island teal roosting above the tideline.

Campbell albatross in flight in beautiful light.

New Zealand fur seal on a rock at the Chathams.

New Zealand fur seal shaking the water from its coat.

New Zealand wandering albatross in flight.

Campbell albatross in flight

Auckland Island shag roosting.

Auckland Island shag coming in to land.

We got the zodiacs really close for superb views of shore plover on South-East Island, Chathams.

A light-mantled sooty albatross comes in to land near a potential nesting site.

Again really close for superb views of a female shore plover with a CHICK on South-East Island, Chathams.

Stunning white-fronted tern in flight.

The Pyramid at dusk with an albatross flying past.

Chatham albatross flying past the Pyramid.

Campbell Island shag in flight.

Yellow-eyed penguin porpoising near Campbell Island.

Variable oystercatcher chick feeding on mussels, Fiordland.

Dark morph soft-plumaged petrel between the Chathams and the Bounty Islands.

New Zealand sealions fighting in the water near Campbell Island.

Southern Royal albatross in the fog on Campbell Island.

Fulmar prion in flight near the Bounty Islands.

Southern Royal in flight in front of a breaking wave.

Yellow-eyed penguin looks on, Auckland Islands.

Bounty Island shag in flight near the islands.

Pup New Zealand sealions creching on the beach.

Light-mantled sooty albatross in flight.

The beach master has his way!

Mum, dad, and but - Auckland Island teal.

Light-mantled sooty albatross in flight behind the ship.

Subantarctic pipit on Campbell Island.

Subantarctic snipe on Campbell Island.

Subantarctic snipe - what a ripper! - on Campbell Island.

Curious yellow-eyed penguin!

Cape petrel in flight behind the ship

Royal penguins having a scrap on Macquarie.

Campbell Island albatross

Rockhopper shaking just off the Antipodes

Erect-crested penguin in the water just off the Antipodes.

Close Royal penguin, Macquarie.

Coming out of the surf!

Erect-crested penguin in the water at Antipodes.

Superb pair of light-mantled sooty albatross displaying along the cliffs of the Antipodes.


  1. Hi Brent. Stunning shots. Love the porpoising YEP. Weka is also gold. Your orchids are Aporostylis bifolia (white one) and the other is Waireia stenopetala.

  2. Thanks Malcolm! Appreciate the kind words. There were far more orchids than I expected on Campbell, also saw a spider orchid that had finished flowering and green bird orchids. The megaherbs were incredible!

  3. Brent your photographs are simply incredible; they transcend stills to bombardment the senses with nature at its wildest and most beautiful. You have extraordinary talent. More more more!! I don't know what has happened to the NZ natural history unit (other than selling their soul to a fox - crocodiles vs sharks - visual bubblegum for the stupid masses) but you need to start directing videographers to capture how you see our unique antipodean natural treasures to inspire the next generation of conservation biologists and decision makers (preferably before the great oil spill of 2027).

    1. Thanks very much - been a while since I checked through my blog - but thanks very much for the kind words!