For the Birds

The last NZ Festival in 2014 included an event called Power Plant which was a trail of light and sound installations set up in the Wellington Botanical Gardens. It was a well recieved and popular event so there was a follow-up organised for this years festival called For the Birds. As the name suggests this new event had its influence in our feathered friends and overall it was a more thoughtful and relaxed experience while still encouraging interaction and cultivating a sense of wonder.

Books, birds and bird houses

Books, birds and bird houses (Cuckoo Ensemble – Artist: Jony Easterby)


Talking, glowing eggs

Talking, glowing Huia eggs (Nests – Artist: Marcus McShane)


Now extinct

Now extinct, the eggs of the Haast’s Eagle (Nests – Artist: Marcus McShane)

Initially the installations were mostly static with small moving parts and subdued lighting. The bird houses above had small bellows that sounded in cycles, mimicking somewhat mournful two note “cuck-oo” calls. The glowing eggs I found very engaging and very relevant. There were a number of nests containing eggs, each set representative of a species of New Zealand bird now extinct. The eggs glowed in time to an audio track of conversation between the birds inside the eggs and their hunters, for instance the unhatched Huia bemoaning that people would want their feathers when they look much better on the bird as intended. There was a lot of humour in the conversations as well which I found helped with the engagement.

Mysterious birds

Mysterious birds (Owls & Kingfishers – Artist: Mark Anderson)

Movement began to be introduced with installations traversing large areas. The mysterious calls of the Owls and Kingfishers piece came from small devices attached to long wires that were strung between trees and above the stream bed. We’d turn as we heard one approach and then watch as they came towards us and then disappear as the lights dimmed at the end of their path, only to spark up and pass back again a short time later. Alayna found it a little disconcerting but that was understandable for a 2 and half year old up well past her bedtime. I just wanted to find a space where I could try and get some photos without interrupting the constant flow of fellow visitors.

The glowing tunnel

The glowing tunnel (Feather Arch – Artist: Ulf Pedersen)

A glowing tunnel gradually formed as we walked up a slope, first appearing as lights in the distance and then becoming ephemeral walls and ceiling around us as the light source was approached, light becoming stronger and then fading as the smoke was pushed across the path. It was a beautifully still night so the smoke moved and dissipated slowly keeping the structure of the tunnel very well defined as passers by waved their fingers through the projection.

Birds through the wires

Birds through the wires (Piano Migrations – Artist: Kathy Hinde)

A crowd had formed in from of the Piano Migrations installation watching as shadow birds fluttered through the upended piano strings, their movement apparently touching on strings to make a strange music. Is was quite mesmerising, attested by the amount of time people stood by and took it all in.

Bird house silhouettes

Bird house silhouettes (Shadow Birdcages – Artist: Jony Easterby)


The bird arch

The bird arch (Lapwing Display – Artist: Jony Easterby)


How it works

How it works (Shadow Birdcages – Artist: Jony Easterby)

We came out of the forest into the dell that is the Troupe Picnic Lawn with a number of works scattered around. The Shadow Birdcages attracted a number of people who often posed to have their own shadow portrait captured with the bird cage silhouettes. Keryn and Alayna were immortalised in kind as evidenced at the top of this page. Stepping around the screen the birdcages could be seen and provided a separate interesting sight, hanging suspended while bathed in light.

Off to one side the silent outlines of lapwing flew up and then down into the still surface of the stream that defined the lower edge of the dell. The reflections completed the loop, an endless mirrored flight.

Looking at the spinning feathers

Looking at the spinning feathers (Feather Dervishes – Artist: Mark Anderson)


Cello and nightingale

Cello and nightingale (Nightingales with Cello – Artists: Kathy Hinde & Jony Easterby, Cellist: Elena Morgan

The path then headed upwards and opened out as we neared the Cockayne Lawn and rock gardens. Alayna enjoyed watching the Feather Dervishes and was quite keen to touch them as well, something we had to quietly dissuade. A number of large white feathers were spinning while lit by bright white lights and made an intriguing spectacle. All around the trees and vegetation was lit in an array of dusky autumnal colours providing a warm and inviting atmosphere. There was a variety of installations and near the end we stood and listened as cellist Elena Morgan played counterpoint to a recording of nightingales.

All up it was a wonderful walk full of interesting and thought provoking sights and sounds. We can’t wait to see what amazing event may came along during the next NZ Festival.

Spring is in the air, just about

The snow has gone and the temperature is generally getting warmer (except for the last few days where we’ve had what is hopefully winters last hurrah). We’ve been out and about a few times and I’ve been getting out to Zealandia a lot to check up on the wildlife. The day after the last post I was driving around Wellington getting a few snow shots, thankfully the heaviest snow wasn’t falling while I was out. I tried to drive up to the Brooklyn wind turbine but turned back about three quarters of the way up the road because of the ice. Heading to the coast I took some photos across the mouth of the Wellington harbour at the icing-sugar covered hills and walked onto the Seatoun wharf in a light snow flurry.

Pencarrow SnowPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Snow over Pencarrow.

Snowing at SeatounPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Winter at the beach in Seatoun.

The snow on the hills stuck around Porirua and the Pauatahanui Inlet for a few more days so I was able to get out and take some more wintery photos. It’s not a common occurrence to see snow at such low levels in this part of the New Zealand.

MG 6720Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Seagulls performing on a rickety jetty on the Pauatahanui Inlet.

Rainbow over Titahi BayPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Snow over Porirua.

Keryn and i have signed up with a local walking/adventure group based in Wellington (the Adventure Wellington group on Meetup) and we took part in a walk over part of the Wellington Northern Walkway one weekend. We started at the Johnsonville station and ended up at the Thistle Hill tavern several hours later having crossed over Mount Kaukau. It was a good walk and a beautiful, clear day with little wind so we had majestic views.

Great Northern WalkwayPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Looking over the harbour from Kaukau.

Great Northern WalkwayPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

And taking in the city.

Great Northern WalkwayPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Stopping to help plant a few trees with the Bells Track Working Group.

That evening there was a Malaysian Night Market set up for one night only in Opera House Lane so we went to that as well. It was very popular, too popular really and the small number of food stalls sold out quite quickly. We queued for an hour or so to get our food, at least everyone was good natured about the wait.

Malaysian Night Market in WellingtonPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

The Malaysian Night Market at Opera House Lane.

Malaysian Night Market in WellingtonPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Chicken and lamb on a stick, what more do you need? Satay sauce as well then!

Malaysian Night Market in Wellington - preparing the roti canaiPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Preparing the roti canai

Zealandia is alive with birdsong at the moment, as spring gets closer the birds get noisier and busier. Nests are being built and territories established and defended so there is always something happening. The Tui especially are full of energy and noise as they defend their favourites trees. The K?rearea are nesting and a chick was hatched a few days ago which means plenty of warning fly-bys to anyone watching the nest area when the parents swap nest duty.

TuiPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A Tui in flight

MG 7822Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Bringing nesting material.

MG 7887Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Discussing partners or warning off rivals?

K?rearea (female)Photo by Brendon & Keryn

All action while shaking

K?rearea (female)Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Ready to warn off anyone getting too close

K?rearea (female)Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Balance issues

There should be plenty more photos over the coming weeks. The Canon Photo5 competition starts this coming week so that should be fun. I’m going on a few photo walks over the next month, one organised by local photographer Rob Suisted and I’m also taking part in this years Wellington leg of the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk. We’ve also got a weekend away in the Marlborough Sounds and Keryn’s Birthday, plus the small matter of the Rugby World Cup starting soon too. A busy time ahead.

It was raining lightly

Another day between shifts and even though the weather was inclement I decided I’d go for a walk. I chose once more to head to Zealandia. On my last visit to Zealandia I had encountered a number of saddleback (tieke) and got some photos, and I was itching to get better shots.

Arriving it was immediately noticeable that change was underway. For months the new visitors centre has been a hive of activity and now the old visitor centre was gone, a few wooden steps to nowhere the only sign that there was a building. A temporary room was now in place as the visitor arrival centre, just past a temporary toilet block. It all looks terrible, but presumably means that the impressive new building is close to opening.

Once I was signed in I headed up the valley, stopping off to check on the tuatara and pointing out some to some passing tourists. I looked for the tuatara I had seen last time underneath the giant log at the Tui Terrace lawn but it wasn’t too be found; probably hiding or no longer there having been moved on by the staff. I watched kaka feeding and then kept walking towards the dam.

IMG 1282Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A kaka feeding

I saw some saddleback from a distance as I approached the next kaka feeders, they and lots of other birds flying around distant trees. Continuing I walked up to the dam and across to the other side where I turned to take the round the lake track. It was on this track that I had seen the saddleback close up on my last visit, so I figured I’d try it again. This was a good call.

IMG 1315Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A whitehead (popokatea) taking a (very) brief stop

I saw saddleback in a different spot to last time but was rewarded with five birds moving through the bush around me. There were at least two youngsters being fed by their parents, half heartedly doing their own search for food between bouts of feeding. Some other walkers passing through scared the saddlebacks off for a while. I sat still and waited and was rewarded with another visitor, a stitchbird (hihi) flying over my head and watching me from an adjacent bush, staying long enough for me to get a couple of photos.

IMG 1480Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Watching the saddleback

IMG 1504Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A youngster getting closer (I presume its a youngster from the lack of wattles)

IMG 1551Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The curious stitchbird

I stayed for a half hour or so slowly moving around while the birds did a good job of ignoring me as they hopped in the undergrowth pecking at rotting wood and decaying leaves in the search of food. I only moved on because I knew I would be cutting it fine getting to the gate before closing time. While watching the stitchbird I was also visited by a few robins (toutouwai), careful flitting close by on the lookout for any insects revealed by my movements. Some of the robins were only young themselves, not yet tagged to help with identification.

IMG 1517Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A hopeful robin

I had one more saddleback encounter. I heard a distinctive call and stopped on the track and scanned the trees. I soon saw the saddleback and took a few shots. The camera was set to take a burst of shots and I think the saddleback became curious as it flew straight towards me, coming closer with each burst of shots. I gratefully took the chance to get some nice portraits.

IMG 1629Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Coming to the noise

IMG 1645Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Coming in close

After that encounter it was quick march to get to the exit on time. Another successful visit.

On a completely different note, we just had another earthquake! Always good to jolt you awake in the wee hours ;) This was a 5 on the scale and was quite the noticeable jolt, though very short. More here on the GeoNet New Zealand website.