30 December 2016

Grey-headed canary flycatcher, Jamnagar, Gujarat

In Jamnagar, a typically hectic mid-sized Indian city, sits a closed-down tea processing factory. The grounds cover 33 acres (according to the caretaker), and the primary occupants are the thorny scrub interspersed with dry clearings, and the birds. It's tranquil, and it's a great place to watch birds of many kinds if you're lucky enough to get permission to visit, as I was.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

25 December 2016

Tuba wallah, Bundi

I had a great time photographing in Bundi. Sometimes I couldn't get a smile while I had the camera up, but that was because it disappeared as soon as I raised the camera and reappeared afterwards. I think many people have the idea that portraits must be formal and smiling's forbidden.

Merry Christmas from Udaipur. Tomorrow evening I catch a sleeper bus all the way to Jamnagar in Gujarat.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

12 December 2016

Jeep driver at Rudraprayag

I'd already scored the front passenger seat in a jeep going from Rudraprayag to Rishikesh, but other jeep drivers kept trying to steal me. Maybe that's how this guy scored his black eye ;-)

Speaking of eyes, keep one out for new photographs on my Instagram account.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

05 December 2016

Lunch stop on the way to Champawat

After crossing the far western border from Nepal to India, I caught a shared van from Tanakpur to Champawat. We stopped for lunch at one of the typical roadside dhabas. The kitchen staff thought being photographed was hilarious. Great, good-humoured fun all round.

I'm back in Almora, heading for Kausani tomorrow after a few days in Naini Tal. The nights are bitterly cold, and I don't know whether I'll be able to cope with Josimath, so I might be heading for Delhi again sooner than intended.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

01 December 2016

Feeding time at Thakurdwara, near Bardia NP, Nepal

One evening I walked along the road leading from the lodge. Several people called out welcomes,and I enjoyed watching some of the daily tasks of life in and around Thakurdwara.

[I'm in Almora, Uttarakhand, India, now. Tomorrow I'll probably head for Naini Tal and do a day visit to nearby Sattal for the birdlife. Then it's on again, to Kausani and deeper into Uttarakhand, eventually to Josimath, then down to Rudraprayag and back to Delhi via Rishikesh. That's the vague plan, but who knows what will happen?]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

27 November 2016

Dust at Thakurdwara

It may look pretty, but that haze is dust. This was a quick photograph snapped from the back of a jeep bouncing along the rough road to Thakurdwara, the village on the outskirts of Bardia National Park in Nepal.

Tomorrow I leave Mahendranagar and return to India.

[If you haven't already seen it, there's a new post on Pohanginapete]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

22 November 2016

Rickshaw driver, Nepalgunj

He looks young, but he drove his rickshaw like a pro. I was only an hour or two in Nepalgunj after getting off the flight from Kathmandu, but I liked it.

Finding time to post photographs isn't easy when travelling, and I'm aware I still need to post on the main blog. I do have an Instagram account, though, and posting there's more efficient.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

18 November 2016

Road crossing, New Delhi

Although a few places around the aptly named Connaught Circus do have traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, getting to the other side of the street is often a matter of stepping out into the traffic and assuming it'll swerve around you. The locals are much better at this than I am.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

16 November 2016

Even the mynahs have a hard time

For all its charms (and there are many), Delhi isn't the cleanest of places, and most  of the birds I've seen haven't been in great shape. The air alone is currently among the worst in the world. Even though mynahs and crows are among the most adaptable and resilient of birds, they can do nothing about air quality.

(Just like last time, I'm having difficulty processing the photographs. Android isn't designed for high quality photoprocessing of RAW files - even the Lightroom app is lousy. Photomate R3 seems to be the bes of a bad bunch. Snapseed would be good, but the RAW files need to be converted to DNG, and the converter apps are appalling. I'm afraid you'll have to put up with approximations. Sorry.)

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

15 November 2016

Good cheap food at the Capital Hotel Restaurant

In New Zealand you'd pay almost ten times what you pay for a good meal here at the Capital Hotel restaurant. ('Restaurant' might convey slightly the wrong impression, though, as you can probably tell from this photograph.) The bonus is that you get waited on by these guys. Little wonder I like eating here.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

13 November 2016

Chai wallah, Pahar Ganj, New Delhi

I'd rushed outside to photograph the early morning Sikh ritual, but I couldn't get a good angle for a photograph. I did notice the chai wallah, though. The chai cost me 10 rupees: an affordable luxury despite my almost complete lack of cash.

I hope the vast queues at the ATMs will subside in the next day or two so I can withdraw cash and be able to enjoy frequent cups of this wonderful drink (which bears almost no resemblance to the 'chai latte' in New Zealand.

In case you're wondering, I'm in India again. My arrival in the wee hours of Saturday morning coincided with the chaos following Prime Minister Modi's sudden announcement that 500 and 100 rupee notes were no longer valid, effective immediately.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

08 November 2016


It's just a record photograph, but I like what it records: some of the rabbits have survived. These two were feeding in the front paddock early this morning. Although the telephoto lens has compressed the perspective so the rabbits look similar in size, the closer of the two (on the right) is much larger than the one behind. I'm guessing we have two generations here.

[1/30 sec at f4, ISO 640]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

06 November 2016

October in the Pohangina Valley

In mid October the valley couldn't make up its mind about which season it was supposed to be in. It should have been spring, but could just as easily have been autumn. On mornings like this, I didn't mind.

This was the view from near my gate.

[1/320 sec at f5.6, ISO 200]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

31 October 2016

Farm deer, Utuwai

They're confined to a large, rough paddock on a farm at Utuwai, but if they didn't have ear tags you'd mistake them for wild deer.

[1/800 at f4, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

29 October 2016

Macrocarpas and rain

We've had plenty of rain in the valley lately, but it has its compensations—like the way it shows up these gnarly old macrocarpas.

[1/80 sec at f8, ISO 200]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

27 October 2016

The Village Pheasant

Here's a photograph of the pheasant rooster looking less agitated.

[1/800 sec at f4.5, ISO 200]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

25 October 2016

Pheasant flap, Pohangina

Just outside Pohangina Village yesterday, we saw a pheasant rooster strolling along the road. We followed him and I managed a series of photographs, most of which failed. Luck was with me for this one, though.

[1/640 sec at f4.5, ISO 200]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

22 October 2016

Spring, Pohangina Valley

After days of intermittent rain, the weather began to clear.

The view from the edge of the terrace, overlooking the river flats.

[1/250 sec at f8, ISO 200]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

16 October 2016

Triple trouble — another gang of puppies

For a few days more, I have three of these (and their mum) living in the kennels near my back door.

[1/100 sec at f5.6, ISO 320]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

14 October 2016

Tui at Pauatahanui

At the Plimmerton end of Pauatahanui Inlet we stopped briefly but walkers with babies in pushchairs and dogs meant birds were scarce. I did photograph this tui but held out little hope the result would be OK because the bird refused to come low enough so I could avoid the bright grey sky as a background. However, some judicious processing helped by a relatively low ISO meant I was able to salvage this photograph.

The yellow around the base of the upper bill is pollen from the kowhai flowers from which the tui had been sipping nectar.

[1/400 sec at f5.0, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

09 October 2016

The Empire accepts democracy

Voting in the local government elections finished at midday on Saturday, and I can't say I'm unhappy it's over. If this guy had been standing in my electorate instead of in Paekakariki, I'd have been tempted to vote for him.

[1/50 sec at f8, ISO 200]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

05 October 2016

Pied stilt at Pauatahanui

At Pauatahanui Inlet we stopped to investigate the bird hide. I'd driven past many times and had often thought about stopping, but something always seemed more urgent. This time, with no hurry to get back to the valley, the temptation was too much. It proved worthwhile, with good views of pied stilts, grey teal, and several other kinds of waterbirds. 

[1/200 sec at f4, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

02 October 2016

Yellowhammer in kanuka

The introduced finches, like this male yellowhammer, are larger than Aotearoa's tiniest birds like the riroriro (grey warbler), but I find them at least as difficult to photograph. Riroriro seldom pause and usually flit about among a tangle of fine branches that makes focusing a nightmare, but at least it's often possible to get close to them while they forage. Getting close to a yellowhammer, on the other hand is inordinately difficult, so I usually need to crop the photograph heavily, as I did with this one.

[1/2000 sec at f4, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

27 September 2016

Honeybee on tarata

Spring is well under way here in the valley. The blossom on many of the fruit trees is well past its peak, new leaves are expanding on many of the deciduous trees, and this morning I watched a thrush gathering a bill-full of earthworms for its insatiably hungry young. I walked to the gate and, on the way back, stopped by a big tarata (lemonwood; Pittosporum eugenioides). The air was full of the sound of honeybees working the pale yellow-green flowers.

[1/800 sec at f4; ISO 320]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

24 September 2016

Tui at the Pohangina Wetlands

Photographing tui on the Massey University campus among the cherry blossom is one thing, but photographing a tui feeding on the native kakabeak (kowhai ngutukaka) at the Pohangina Wetlands is another: somehow intrinsically more satisfying. I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps photographing the Massey birds, which are habituated to constant human presence, seems too close to photographing animals in a zoo, or maybe the juxtaposition of a quintessentially New Zealand bird and a plant most closely associated with Japanese culture seems slightly contrived.

Of course, while kakabeak is a native plant, it's almost extinct in the wild, and if you see one it's almost certainly a cultivated plant.

[1/400 sec at f4, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

19 September 2016

Pohangina Valley Pheasant

Pheasants are a not uncommon sight on the roadsides in the valley, but photographing them can be difficult. On Sunday I happened to have the fortunate coincidence of a cooperative driver and a similarly cooperative rooster, and one of the three photographs turned out quite nice.

I love pheasants and never fail to get a thrill of delight when I see one.

[1/400 sec at f4, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

17 September 2016

Some rabbits still live

Those of you who understood what the man must have felt at the conclusion of Suppositions about a man and his rabbits will be pleased to know at least some rabbits survived (well, at least this one, and possibly all — I've since seen two simultaneously).

This seems to be another Spock rabbit, and although its ears aren't kinked, I wonder whether that distinctive dark nose is a permanent feature or whether it's just wet from feeding after the rain? The former, I hope: I'd like to be able to identify it beyond doubt.

They're survivors, these rabbits.

[1/100 sec at f4, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

15 September 2016

Tui time

Early spring's an excellent time of year for appreciating tui on the Massey University campus. An abundance of nectar-producing blossom attracts an abundance of tui, and because the birds are habituated to humans, they're easy to approach closely. Yesterday I finally took the time to make some photographs, and because the day was heavily overcast, I didn't have the usual difficulties with the shiny iridescence of the plumage.

[1/80 sec at f5.6, ISO 200]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

13 September 2016

Korimako on kanuka

More korimako, I'm afraid, but I can't resist these marvellous little birds. On a heavily overcast, dull day, I prowled along the edge of the terrace and encountered this female korimako inspecting the bark of an old kanuka for tasty invertebrate morsels  —  a change of diet from the more usual tree lucerne nectar.

I loved the scratch and papery rustle of her little claws on the peeling bark as she spiralled up the trunk.

[1/200 sec at f4, ISO 320]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

08 September 2016

More korimako

Yes, another korimako (male), but I like these glimpses. This is how I usually see them.

[1/640 sec at f4, ISO 250]
All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

04 September 2016

The Far Side kereru

This, I imagine, is how Gary Larson might have envisaged kereru.

[1/1250 sec at f4, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

30 August 2016

Winter korimako

Keeping the theme going. Sparrows aren't the only birds with the inclination to fluff up when the air's cold. For the sake of respecting the truth, though, I'll point out that this afternoon was unseasonably warm and sunny; however, we're still officially in winter even though we're only just over a day out from the official start of spring.

This korimako sat himself in a particularly awkward position against a bright sky, but by overexposing and with judicious processing, the photograph turned out not bad.

[1/250 sec at f4.5, ISO 200]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

28 August 2016

Winter sparrow

Just a fortnight ago the old cherry plum still fretted the sky with its irregular lacework of bare, dormant branches, and the sparrows sat around fluffed up like little sleeping bags, and I photographed this one from the verandah. Now, the plum branches have begun to blossom and the sparrows, ... well, they're still sitting around, fat and fluffy.

[1/640 sec at f5.6, ISO 320]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

22 August 2016

Dawn on the back hill

The face of the back hill was still dark but I could see enough to know the deer were elsewhere. The one silhouetted on the skyline suggested the others weren't far away, though: maybe on the far side. The magpie on the fence sat there, maybe watching the hind grazing, or maybe, like me, it was just enjoying the dawn.

[1/100 sec at f4, ISO 640]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

13 August 2016

A lot of water under the bridge

Sometimes you look over the edge and wonder where all that water's gone, and whether Heraclitus got it wrong and in fact you're always stepping—or falling—into that same river, not just twice but endlessly, and you wonder whether it was actually Nietzsche who was right when he posed that question about how you'd react to a demon who condemned or blessed you with the eternal recurrence of all the joys and despairs of your life, but eventually you know you have to get on with what's left of it, so you walk away, leaving the troll beneath the bridge grumpy that he didn't get to eat you, but even as you walk off you wonder whether you might not be confirming Sartre's and de Beauvoir's claim about bad faith, and that doesn't help you feel any better or less confused.

But Heraclitus and Nietzsche and Sartre and de Beauvoir are all dead, and you're still walking and wondering. Surely that has to mean something—no?

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

06 August 2016

Korimako (New Zealand bellbird)

Sometimes you have to persevere to make a photograph; sometimes you get lucky. This was the only photograph I managed of this male korimako — a quick shot through a gap in a tangle of branches — and it's one of the better photographs I've managed of these beautiful, frustrating birds.

[1/200 sec at f4, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

02 August 2016

Kereru on the No. 1 Line track

Twenty-eight photographs of kereru on the No. 1 Line track this afternoon, and this was the only one I was happy with. It was also number twenty-eight. Sometimes persistence has its rewards.

[1/25 sec at f4, ISO 400]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

31 July 2016

At the National Bird Show

After three months of events around New Zealand, the National Bird Show culminated this weekend in Feilding, not far from Palmerston North and — more importantly — the Pohangina Valley. Although dominated by seemingly innumerable varieties of canaries and budgerigars, the show also offered the chance to see many other types of birds: this gorgeous parakeet, for example.

Although I dislike seeing birds caged, I'll point out that the organisers had posted numerous signs explaining that most of these birds had been habituated to accept small show-cages and that the birds were usually housed in much larger aviaries.

[1/60 sec at f5.6, ISO 1600]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

22 July 2016

Korimako in tree lucerne, Pohangina Valley

Korimako (NZ bellbird) can be frustratingly difficult to photograph. They move fast and often, and around here they're usually flitting about within dense foliage. To make matters worse, a bright background sky frequently creates an impossible range of contrast.

This female (instantly recognisable by the white stripe at the corner of her mouth) certainly didn't make it easy, but, of the three photographs I managed, this one turned out acceptable.

[1/1600 at f4, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

10 July 2016

Muddy pukeko, Foxton Beach

The pukeko prowling about on the mudflats at Foxton Beach last week were habituated to people passing by (here in the valley they're much more wary) and consequently offered reasonable photo opportunities. And, no, this is not a mutant bird: that off-white on the bird's bill and face is dried mud. Judging from the mud-line, I'm guessing it had its eyes closed when it grubbed for that particular tasty morsel.

[1/200 sec at f4; ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

04 July 2016

Titipounamu (rifleman) on the Tunupo Track

The riflemen along the Tunupo track on Saturday wouldn't stay still, but that wasn't the worst of the difficulties trying to photograph them. One of their most frustrating habits was staying high, so on the few occasions I did manage to focus on one, the background included patches of bright sky. In this photograph, though, one of those patches happened to fall almost directly behind the tiny bird (this is a female), and although I'd have preferred a clean, out-of-focus green background, the light patch at least helps draw attention to the bird.

[1/125 @f4, ISO 320]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

02 July 2016

Oroua headwaters, mid winter

I walked partway up the Tunupo track today, but despite the effort I remained cold. Still, the views were worth some mild discomfort.

[1/800 at f6.3, ISO 200]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

24 June 2016

Summer cloud, No. 1 Line, Pohangina Valley

With the shortest day now gone, I can look forward to summer and the days of dry hills and long grass.

[1/320 at f11, ISO 200]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

19 June 2016

Free the pigeons

I returned from the No. 1 Line track, late in the grey gloom of an afternoon that threatened rain, to find the remaining three pigeons had finally been liberated. One stood on the ridge of the old shed, blinking from time to time as if in disbelief at its new freedom. It looked like everything I'd tried to say last Saturday.

[1/1000 at f4, ISO 1600]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

17 June 2016

Riroriro (grey warbler) with crane fly

Not all bird photographs need to be needle sharp if their purpose is to convey an impression. Of a series of photographs of two riroriro late this afternoon in dim light, none was perfectly sharp but I liked several, including this one. Riroriro are one of Aotearoa's smallest birds: titipounamu weigh the same but have a shorter tail.

The big insect is a crane fly (Family Tipulidae).

[1/15 at f4, ISO 1250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

16 June 2016

Morning weather, southern Ruahine Range

Plenty of weather around the southern Ruahine Range this morning. By late afternoon all this cloud had cleared and the tops sat in cold sunlight under a gibbous daylight moon.

[1/320 at f8, ISO 100]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

14 June 2016

The rabbits are still here

The rabbits in the front paddock haven't yet been shot (and I hope they won't be). I know this, because while I was wandering along the edge of the terrace the other day, this rabbit popped up and stared at me. I'm not sure exactly how many live here, but it's at least two or three, and I see one or two most mornings and evenings. The winter might deal to them, but in the meantime I love just watching them.

[1/250 at f4, ISO 400]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

12 June 2016

Ruapehu from the northern Ruahine

On the walk back out from Rockslide Biv to Masters Shelter last Monday, we were treated to brilliantly clear views of Ruapehu (shown here) and Ngauruhoe. Even Taranaki appeared, small but distinct, in the far distance. The ground remained largely frozen but the cold made for ideal tramping weather.

[1/640 sec at f8, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

07 June 2016

Cold in the Ruahine

On Sunday I drove north and walked, almost non-stop, for five-and-a-half hours over the tops to a bitterly cold bivvy in the northern Ruahine. I arrived just before dark, surprising Jono and Laura, who'd assumed I hadn't managed to get away. They'd walked in on Friday from a different direction, and had endured an icy walk up the river to the biv. At least I'd had no rivers to wade. We survived the night, although anything damp — socks, boots, etc. — froze overnight.

This photograph shows a section of the track along the tops during my walk in.

[1/60 sec at f6.3, ISO 250]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

04 June 2016

Korimako (NZ bellbird)

In the previous post I mentioned how the tree lucerne had begun to attract birds like the korimako. This evening I finally managed to photograph one of these beautiful birds. This is a female, easily identifiable by the white stripe at the corner of her mouth.

[1/160sec at f4, ISO 400]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor