Sunday, 30 November 2014

Coast Up Close Wildlife Cruise

We took a leisurely (no birding) drive up the coast from Dunedin yesterday arriving in Akaroa (on the Banks Peninsula) in time for a very pleasant pre-dinner walk along the harbour front as the sun was setting. The weather prediction for the morning was not looking great for our 'Coast Up Close' wildlife cruise with an expected 'cool' change, rain and high winds. We were pleasantly surprised when we woke to bright sunshine and still air and arrived at the dock to board the boat.

'Coast Up Close' boat, Akaroa, Canterbury NZ
(photo courtesy of Joanne Smissen)

It was reasonably calm inside the inner harbour allowing shots of a Spotted Shag flying close-by the boat

Spotted Shag, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @92mm, ISO 400 f/2.8 1/4000

and this one surfaced right next to us.

Spotted Shag, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @92mm, ISO 400 f/2.8 1/500

We saw lots of Hutton's Shearwater, mostly like this

Hutton's Shearwater, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @92mm, ISO 400 f/2.8 1/2000

but one stayed around long enough for me to get this shot. 

Hutton's Shearwater, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @92mm, ISO 400 f/4 1/8000

I cannot tell the difference between Hutton's and Fluttering Shearwaters without seeing the underwings but the boat skipper assured us that Flutterings don't come this far south in the breeding season and Hutton's breed just up the coast in the Kaikoura Ranges.

The predicted strong SW wind soon came up (and you can see from the shot below what sort of weather was heading our way) which meant we didn't venture far outside the harbour but it did make for a fun trip spotting Hector's Dolphins with the boat ploughing through the 1-2 metre swell in the outer harbour.

Photography was difficult with so much movement of the boat so we both spent most of our time just watching these incredible animals as they charged towards the boat,

Hector's Dolphin, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm, ISO 400 f/2.8 1/4000
Hector's Dolphin, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm, ISO 400 f/2.8 1/3200

 frustratingly spending most of their time under water

Hector's Dolphin, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm, ISO 400 f/2.8 1/4000

occasionally breaking the surface allowing a brief glimpse of their short, rounded dorsal fin.

Hector's Dolphin, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @92mm, ISO 400 f/2.8 1/4000

Jo spent a lot of time lying on the deck hanging over the bow watching them close-up, playing in the bow wave.

Hector's Dolphin, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
(Photo courtesy of Joanne Smissen)

I had enough trouble keeping the lens dry just leaning over the side rail...

Hector's Dolphin, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm, ISO 400 f/2.8 1/4000

There are several spots along the cliffs where Spotted Shags were nesting.

Spotted Shag, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @92mm, ISO 400 f/2.8 1/500
Spotted Shag, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @92mm, ISO 400 f/2.8 1/1600

and New Zealand Fur Seals were basking on the rocks...

New Zealand Fur Seal, Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury NZ
Pentax K-5, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @92mm, ISO 400 f/4 1/6400

...all under the watchful eye of the First Mate.

(Photo courtesy of Joanne Smissen)

2 comments:

  1. that was a lovely cruise on that boat and you managed to see not only birds but mammals. Great shots. Have a great Sunday and a wonderful Christmas week ahead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Margaret - same to you and yours :-)

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