Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kāruhiruhi PIED SHAG

This year has seen me go back to university, where I am currently 12 months through a 15 month graduate teaching diploma through the University of Canterbury. This year's busy schedule has meant that my photography has been put on the back burner, and apart from a few brief trips, I've been running on the pedagogical treadmill. So naturally I've had an itchy shutter finger, and been dreaming of pointing the camera at some of my avian friends.

Although my photography has slowed down, there has been some photographic progressions. This year I received an Associateship through the Nature Photography Society of New Zealand (ANPSNZ) and the Photographic Society of New Zealand (APSNZ). I also received honours in this years Trenna Packer Salver for my 'Sea Lion Stare-down' image. My exhibitions have continued and I will be showcasing some images in Hanmer Springs in January 2014.

As the last few weeks of university came to an end, I managed to photograph a local pied shag pair (Phalacrocorax varius) as they brought up their three rapidly growing chicks. What a joy to be able to observe the pair as they built their nest, fed their chicks and interacted with one another. I really enjoy just sitting and watching nesting birds, it's amazing what you see and learn. 

What surprised me when watching this particular pair was the nest building. I was surprised to witness the chicks aiding their parents in nest construction and maintenance. I've witnessed a juvenile Australasian crested grebe aid parents with nest construction for a second clutch, although I have never observed chicks nest build while still nest bound. 

The adult would bring an offering of nest material, usually a stick, and would be greeted by it's nesting partner, who would often throw its head back and commence in a 'yawn' like greeting. The stick would be passed from adult to adult and occasionally to the chicks who would place and fasten the stick to the nest (family team work). 

I hope you enjoy the images below...

As soon as my last assignment was submitted I packed the bags and embarked on a nine day photo trip... photos to come.... keep an eye out!   

Above: Commonly described as "wing-drying" the adult dries it's wings after feeding. Note: Breeding colours present around the eye.

A whole new world: two young chicks peer out of the nest inspecting their new surroundings under their parent's watchful eye.

Begging for a feed: two young chicks beg for a feed, triggering a regurgitation reflex.

Sheltering from the elements: with a soft new down, the young chicks, shelter on a chilly evening.

With its head completely enveloped, a rapidly growing chick receives a stomach full of fish.

Nest construction - a family affair: A stick is passed down to the chick to place on the nest. 

Messy eater: A couple of fish miss their intended target.

Greetings: Greeted by a "yawn", an adult returns to the nest for a swapping of nesting duties.

'Ginger shag': When photographing the' pied shags' I was visited by this strange looking 'little pied shag'.

...Thanks for viewing...


  1. Wow,what an amazing collection of wonderful images.

  2. Fantastic shots Johnathan! Welcome back to the blogosphere!

  3. Fabulous as always. Wonderful to follow the progress of this family and great the weather and conditions remained constant.
    (Did you find out why that one had an orange head?)

  4. WOW! Beautiful birds and your fotos are amazing... grretings