Through a window, nature reveals.

 Through a window, nature reveals

Black swan (Cygnus atratus) at one of the roadside ponds along Anzac Drive

Black swan (Cygnus atratus) at one of the roadside ponds along Anzac Drive

A female putangitangi ){Paradise shelduck - Tadorna variegata) at one of the roadside ponds along Anzac Drive

A female putangitangi (Paradise shelduck – Tadorna variegata) at one of the roadside ponds along Anzac Drive

Most weekends I go out to photograph birds and, to do so, I can spend hours immersed in nature: belly crawling through mud flats, lying prone in the shallow edge of a pond, crawling through thick wet fields of shrubs and grasses, or simply sitting still and ‘blending’, with insects crawling unchecked all over me while I wait . . . and watch . . . and wait some more.

So it seems almost paradoxical, certainly ironic, that one of the most effective tools I have for getting close to birds without disturbing them . . . is my car.

Intimate shots like this close-up of a kotuku (white heron - Egretta alba modesta) are made possible from the close approach a car allows

Intimate shots like this close-up of a kotuku (white heron – Egretta alba modesta) are made possible from the close approach a car allows

My versatile little hatchback – that I confess to treating as if it were a four-wheel drive – is a product of an industry that at many levels acts against the interests of nature: whether that be the mining and smelting of the metals for its frame and body; the polluting chemicals that make up its plastics, paints and fiberglass moldings; the coal-fired electricity that is used in its welding; or the climate change contributed to by the emissions of its spent fuel.

Kotuku-ngutupapa (Royal spoonbill - Platalea regia) are wary birds but this juvenile didn't even blink when I slowly pulled up beside it in the car

Kotuku-ngutupapa (Royal spoonbill – Platalea regia) are wary birds but this juvenile didn’t even blink when I slowly pulled up beside it in the car

But, parked at the edge of a pond, river, coastline or wetland field, it becomes something else; it becomes a hide that opens a door to nature so that others might appreciate, and help protect, it.

a torea (South Island pied oystercatcher - Hamematopus ostralegus)  with its dinner, shot from the car near Redcliffs.

a torea (South Island pied oystercatcher – Hamematopus ostralegus) with its dinner, shot from the car near Redcliffs.

While we, as a species, have a history of exploiting nature, rather than adapting to it, nature’s creatures have, perforce, had to adapt to us. We are intrusive and noisy neighbours but birds, especially, have learned that passing cars along the edges of their territories offer little threat. We, in our vehicles, become so much background noise and movement that can be safely ignored – unless you are a harrier or magpie scavenging on road-kill, in which case you take your life in your hands (or should that be talons?) Christchurch and greater Canterbury, there are many kilometres of road that run alongside forests, waterways, fields and wetlands, estuaries and the sea.

A post in a seaside carpark was a perch for this screaching tarapunga (red-billed gull - Larus novaehollandiae)

A post in a seaside carpark was a perch for this screaching tarapunga (red-billed gull – Larus novaehollandiae)

These photos, then, are a salute to the birds that have learned to live alongside us, some even thriving on the environments we create.  All have been photographed from the luxurious vantage point of the front seat of my car, with little more discomfort than a bit of cramp from an awkward lean out of the window to get that perfect shot.

spurwinged plover (Vanellus miles) are so flightly and often scare other birds when they panic at an intruder - but the car gets real close with them completely unafraid.

spurwinged plover (Vanellus miles) are so flightly and often scare other birds when they panic at an intruder – but the car gets real close with them completely unafraid.

Taranui (Caspian tern - Sterna caspia) would have to be one of the hardest terns to photograph they are extremely wary birds! But from the car this youngster was undisturbed at only four metres away!

Taranui (Caspian tern – Sterna caspia) would have to be one of the hardest terns to photograph they are extremely wary birds! But from the car this youngster was undisturbed at only four metres away!

Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) on a harakeke branch overhanging the roadside - note the tarseal background. Taken looking straight down from the car.

Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) on a harakeke branch overhanging the roadside – note the tarseal background. Taken looking straight down from the car.

A white-faced heron (Ardea novaehollandiae) in breeding plumage on the roadside edge of the Heathcote/Avon estuary

A white-faced heron (Ardea novaehollandiae) in breeding plumage on the roadside edge of the Heathcote/Avon estuary

Capturing this kawaupaka (little shag - Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) swimming and diving was much easier from the viewpoint of the car

Capturing this kawaupaka (little shag – Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) swimming and diving was much easier from the viewpoint of the car

Pukeko (Porphyrio porphyrio) shot from the car beside the Charlesworth reserve

Pukeko (Porphyrio porphyrio) shot from the car beside the Charlesworth reserve

a white-faced heron gathers worms from a roadside lawn

a white-faced heron gathers worms from a roadside lawn

A puteketeke )Crested grebe - Podiceps cristatus) charges a rival - filmed from the car beside Lake Forsyth

A puteketeke (Crested grebe – Podiceps cristatus) charges a rival – filmed from the car beside Lake Forsyth

Kuaka (bar-tailed godwit - Limosa lapponica) in their red breeding plumage. Godwits are very wary but quite tolerant of cars along the causeway at Heathcote/Avon Estuary

Kuaka (bar-tailed godwit – Limosa lapponica) in their red breeding plumage.
Godwits are very wary but quite tolerant of cars along the causeway at Heathcote/Avon Estuary

Kotare (kingfisher Halcyon sancta) - I had to slither onto the roof of the car to get this one!

Kotare (kingfisher Halcyon sancta) – I had to slither onto the roof of the car to get this one!

Courting shags exchange a feather gift - photographed at a roadside pond near Waikuku Beach

Courting shags exchange a feather gift – photographed at a roadside pond near Waikuku Beach

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7 thoughts on “Through a window, nature reveals.

  1. wow, they are amazing, have forwarded on to the Florida guest birder who is coming in October, a sample of what she might see .Bruce

    • Hi Bruce, happy to show your guest around and take her to some good birding spots. October is a great time as the seasonal migrants are back in town and she should see some birds she’d never see in Florida.

  2. Love this post- I live in South Brighton, so this is very familiar- though I generally am unable to get shots like this!

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