Friday Photo: 27 June

June 27th, 2014 at 8:54 am by Chthoniid

Last week we got a pic of one of our smallest arachnids, so this week it’s one of our largest.  This is our native tunnelweb Hexatheles hochstetteri.  They emerge out of their tunnels at night to wait for prey to stray close to the web.  Which introduces the technical challenge of trying to photograph when it’s actually pretty dark.  They have the more basal features of four book-lungs and paraxial fangs.

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Friday Photo: 20 June

June 20th, 2014 at 8:59 am by Chthoniid

One of the most ubiquitous arachnids we have in NZ are pseudoscorpions (we have a lot of species).  Despite their wide distribution, most people will never see one.  The reason is two fold.  First, they’re very small. Most have a body-length less than 2mm.  The second is they’re quite cryptic.  While they’re adept predators they also dislike being in the light.  You can find them in leaf litter, bird’s nests, under rocks, sometimes even on native birds (where they hunt parasites).  There are also some species that are phoresic.  They hitch a ride on another arthropod for dispersal.

This is where I spotted this adult female.  She was hanging on to the leg of a house fly.  The species is Thallosocherens tairensis and is one of out most widely seen.  Even so, its still very very small.

To take this shot I needed a microscope adapter (24x).  This left a depth-of-field that was razor thin, so it took a few shots to get the front edge of the carapace in focus.  What you get to see here is greatly magnified.

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Friday Photo: 13 June

June 13th, 2014 at 9:07 am by Chthoniid

One of the persistent challenges to photographing kereru, is getting on the same level as they are.  Otherwise you’re always pointing the camera upwards.  Which is distortionary and it generates a lot of views of kereru backsides.  The latter isn’t a very popular subject.

So in this case, I’d spotted that the birds were feeding off the berries of a ti kouka (cabbage tree) and I could get on the same level.  With a bit of patience, it was possible to capture a variety of photos.

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Friday Photo: 6 June

June 6th, 2014 at 9:16 am by Chthoniid

And something scenic to finish the week with.

This is Pohuehue Falls, on the road between Orewa and Warkworth.  The water motion was given a blur with an ND-filter, slowing the exposure to around a minute.  It’s not a particularly impressive waterfall from the lookout, but it is framed nicely within the native bush.

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Friday Photo: 30 May

May 30th, 2014 at 9:15 am by Chthoniid

The endangered NZ dotterel or tūturiwhatu at Okura. This small shore bird has declined to about 1700 birds in scattered populations.

“The Long Walk”

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Sadly the coffee machine at work is broken so the caffeine-grieving process has begun…

Friday Photo: 23 May

May 23rd, 2014 at 8:02 am by Chthoniid

Last expedition to China was a success in many ways.  While it was mostly about the legal and illegal ivory markets we got a break up north to do some tiger-time.  The early Spring thaw had started so some of the local cats were happy to get some sunshine. Amur (or Siberian) tigers tend to have a thicker coat than the subspecies located further south…

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Friday Photo: 14 March

March 14th, 2014 at 8:53 am by Chthoniid

As summer retreats the songs of the local cicada population is ebbing.  This is of the distinctive green cicada kihikihi wawa  (or Amphipsalta zealandica) here. The wings are blurred as the insect is in mid-song.

They are also eaten by one of the local cats, who doesn’t seem to mind the crunchy sound they make.

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I’m going off the grid for the next couple of weeks also, as I’m going to back in China on Sunday. It’s another elephant conservation project.

Friday Photo: 21 February

February 21st, 2014 at 8:41 am by Chthoniid

This shot doesn’t quite do justice to the immense size of the crocodile, but I like it for the extra element- the ibis – in the background.

“The Odd Couple”

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Friday Photo: 14 February

February 14th, 2014 at 8:51 am by Chthoniid

This native bird again, needs no introduction.  It’s the only mainland native pigeon species we have in NZ (the Chatham Islands has a related species).    One of the important roles it plays in native forests is seed dispersal.  Which does make the gradual decline of many populations of kereru a concern.

The basic challenge to photographing this bird in the wild is that it likes being up in the tree canopies.  This means it’s very easy to get photographs of the birds backside, but being on the same level is correspondingly harder.  It also means you’re typically shooting in low light conditions.  That means a slow shutter speed with a big telephoto.

So these shot has been a while in the making.  The kereru is feeding on a cabbage tree and I’ve got a vantage point that is both at the same level, and close to the bird.  No need to do any aggressive cropping of the shot.

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Hope everybody enjoys the end of their week.  I’m going to be on a high-volume espresso diet I think, to make it to the end of the day…



Friday Photo: 31 January

January 31st, 2014 at 9:21 am by Chthoniid

And something from further afield today.  This lizard was found in the Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve in Yunnan. Obviously its coming to the end of a moult.  This area is one of the most diverse for wildlife in China.  Try to find the spots the Chinese local tourists don’t frequent.

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Friday Photo: 24 January

January 24th, 2014 at 9:36 am by Chthoniid

Well I kind of hope most of you had a more relaxed time off over Xmas/New Years than I managed.  Photographic opportunities have been few, but I’ve been having some good expeditions up around Okura.

There’s a small population of the endangered NZ dotterel or tūturiwhatu there.  Like many wary shorebirds, it is a challenge to get close enough to take photos without first, disturbing the birds and second, not having to crop the picture.  Finding a place to conceal yourself that is also close to the birds is tricky.

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I’ve also given my photo website a makeover, and the latest blog entry has more on these birds.


Friday Photo: 20 December

December 20th, 2013 at 9:15 am by Chthoniid

And for something different, a shot of the Auckland skyline from Waiheke Island from a previous summer.  This was taken with a 300mm lens and the red lighting effect was actually quite localised.  That motivated the use of the telephoto to bring it all within the frame.

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It is from my ‘Natural Goodness‘ album.

Hope everyone has a good break.  I’m going to be disappearing for a few weeks.

Friday Photo: 13 December

December 13th, 2013 at 8:36 am by Chthoniid

A couple of pics today of the kaka.

Excitement in Auckland increased briefly when some were recently spotted around Torbay 🙂

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Also, if you want to see some pics of our very unusual pseudoscorpions, I’ve got a blog post on them at my website.  I spotted the small arachnid hitching a ride on the leg of a fly.  They’re actually common this time of the year.

Cheers B


Friday Photo: 22 November

November 22nd, 2013 at 9:55 am by Chthoniid

Let’s throw caution to the wind and post a pic of one of my favourite NZ spiders.  This girl is Trite planiceps.  She has the common traits of a Salticid (jumping spider).  These include the large front legs, large eyes (jumping spiders have the best eyesight in the the Spider-world) and a small abdomen.  I’ve got her in a grooming pose.

They are a relatively common spider and pretty harmless. In fact. they’re probably quite a useful visitor to have in the garden as they’re aggressive predators of insects.

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Friday Photo: 15 November

November 15th, 2013 at 9:01 am by Chthoniid

Today’s pic is a bit of an experiment in slowing the shutter down. Often with wildlife, a fast shutter speed is used to freeze action and eliminate any motion blur. This time I wanted to get a bit of that motion blur going to get a sense of action.

“Headbanger” – Sparrow

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Other than that, it’s a beautiful day in Auckland, I have fresh coffee…and some chilled IPA waiting for me at home. Hope your plans are turning out just as well 🙂

Friday Photo: 8 November

November 8th, 2013 at 8:56 am by Chthoniid

Pondered whether to put up one of my many spider pics this morning, but I think we’ll stick to tamer subjects.

Here’s a bit of local scenery from a recent jaunt down the West Coast. Hence the rain 🙂

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Friday Photo: 25 October

October 25th, 2013 at 9:49 am by Chthoniid

One of our feathered friends from across the ditch.  With a generous splash of colour.


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Friday Photo: 11 October

October 11th, 2013 at 9:26 am by Chthoniid

Dismal day in Auckland. Coffee machine in office broken. I think it’s time for some pics instead.

As I think we’re a little short of scenic pics this week, here’s one of a local stream first, and then we’ll double up with our very unique kereru.

Mossy Stream

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I’ve also had a revamp of my photo website. Visitors welcome 🙂



Friday Photo: 4 October

October 4th, 2013 at 9:05 am by Chthoniid

Given the rarity of finding one tauhou (silvereye), by itself, three seem more realistic.  One Australian immigrant I have no great objection to.

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From original album



Friday Photo: 27 September

September 27th, 2013 at 9:33 am by Chthoniid

Well, I guess its not going to be hard identifying this shot.  One of Australia’s plentiful (yet colourful) lorikeets done in a ‘portrait style’.  Enjoy 🙂

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Friday Photo: 13 September

September 13th, 2013 at 8:38 am by Chthoniid

And finally the weather turns pleasant.

This pic however, is taken in very poor weather and is of 3 sheltering godwits.  And rather than going for the classic ‘bird’ photo, the style here is high-key.

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And now, it feels like a morning that can only be improved with coffee…enjoy


Friday Photo: 16 August

August 16th, 2013 at 8:52 am by Chthoniid

While NZ actually has a dearth of butterfly species, other parts of the world have a much richer fauna.  The Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan is one of them.  The region here borders Laos and includes an extensive area of tropical forest.  Needless to say, I got a few butterfly pics out there.


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Hope everyone has a good Friday.

Friday Photo: 9 August

August 9th, 2013 at 8:57 am by Chthoniid

This is a  pic  fresh from the camera.  I’ve been in Yunnan and down to Xishuangbana- an area that contains a large reserve of tropical forests that are close to Laos.  There are a number of species (tigers, elephants) that migrate between the two countries.

It’s also one of the transit route for drugs coming out of the golden triangle. So, this elephant picture is actually from a recovery center in Xishuangbanna for elephants (closed off to the public).  This elephant is part of a small group that drug-smugglers were using to move drugs across the border.

“Melancholic Elephant”

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Friday Photo: 26 July

July 26th, 2013 at 9:05 am by Chthoniid

And going with more of a beach theme, today’s pic is of our native Oyster-catcher


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Friday Photo: 19 June

July 19th, 2013 at 9:43 am by Chthoniid

I haven’t had much time to take pics of the local bird-life (or creepy-crawlies) so this edition is from a stream in the Waitakere  Ranges instead.

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It’s the Mokoroa Stream if any Aucklanders are curious 🙂