It is no longer a secret that I am fascinated by parrots. They are doubtlessly my favourite topic here on this blog, if you look at my previous posts from Sydney (Parrots galore & Do they fly) and New Caledonia (Particular parrots).
So believe me, it was all the more painful when I had to share this crappy photo in my article about the island of Tiritiri Matangi:
Horrible, I know!
Fortunately, however, I was lucky enough to be able to take better pictures of my favourite birds very recently. And I think I’m slowly improving my skills in parrot photography…
From my temporary residence in Wellington, the Kiwi capital, I went to a most remarkable place called Kapiti Island off the West coast of North Island. I will write in greater detail about this trip in a separate post. Let’s focus on the absolute essentials now.
One of two species of parrot to be found on that island is the red-fronted (or red-crowned) parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae), also known by its Maori name of kākāriki. New Zealand is nowadays inhabited by altogether five native parrot species (including the famous kakapo) plus one recently introduced bird from Australia. I had already seen the red-fronted parakeet on Tiri, but never got good views (hence the awful photo).
Kapiti Island was so much better in this regard (and not only). There were parrots everywhere, and not even very shy. I was on cloud nine!
The first place where I found them was a helicopter pod where they liked to search for grass seeds on the ground. But they were always cautious.
They look right:
They look left:
They forage for food:
They gulp it down:
They get flown over by their colleagues (hopped over, rather):
They perch in a tree, searching for the next promising food place:
But that’s only part of the story! There is another parrot species on the island. Needless to say, I was very keen on seeing that as well, and maybe taking a few pictures. I am speaking of the New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis), a close relative of the kea (which I’ve already shown you).
The kaka (or kākā) is very different from the parakeet in appearance and behaviour. Here’s what you basically need to know about it:
It’s darker and much bigger than the parakeet, with a very impressive beak.
It’s very curious and not shy at all.
We were warned to handle our food with utmost caution. Kaka are apparently capable of opening zips and bags in search of food… This one saw that I didn’t have anything edible with me at all, so he (or she) flew off into the trees after a few minutes.
And when they can’t rob food of unsuspecting tourists, they turn to their original diet, in which berries and other fruits seem to play a major role:
Not many birds are capable of using their feet like a hand (or their beak as a third foot, for that matter).
Mmmm, so good! (I don’t know about you but somehow these photos remind me of Joseph and the coconut).
Despite their impressive size these conspicuous birds can be surprisingly difficult to see when sitting in a tree:
But fortunately (for me at least), they don’t always hide among leaves…
The parrots were just one aspect of my time on Kapiti Island (much too short, of course). I will write about all the other fantastic stuff as soon as possible, I promise.
(Click here for more bird-related articles on this travel blog).