Readers’ wildlife video and photos

Tara Tanaka (Vimeo site here, Flickr site here), has sent us yet another lovely 2 ½-minute  video, this time of a Great Egret (Aredea alba) displaying.  Be sure to watch it on the Vimeo site, enlarged and in high definition. Her notes:

For the first time I’ve tried shooting photos from our Gheenoe [a boat], and as long as the wind isn’t blowing too hard it works well. I really didn’t think it would be steady enough, but I found that if I hold my breath I can even shoot video from it! I paddled our Gheenoe out into the swamp before sunrise on Monday and videoed this gorgeous male Great Egret displaying in perfect morning light. It looked like he would have really nice backlighting in that spot just before sunset, IF he hadn’t attracted a mate by then. I paddled back out with my digiscoping gear for even more reach later in the afternoon and shot the very last clip. I slowed this down to half of original speed, but used the audio at normal speed. You can hear the loud “wichity-wichity” of a Common Yellowthroat, and if you turn the sound up you can hear many Red-winged Blackbirds and the “rusty gate” sound of Rusty Blackbirds, a species in serious decline.

And we have two photos from Stephen Barnard, who’s still fishing and traveling in New Zealand:

Black swan (Cygnus atratus). Not all swans are white, which came as a surprise to Europeans, who had assumed otherwise, when they were found in Australia. It illustrates the philosophical problem of induction, the “long tails” of probability distributions, and the underestimation of rare but potentially disastrous events, such as the economic crisis of 2008. (The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb)


And Stephen caught a fish (and sent travel notes, for  I asked him where to visit after I arrive in mid-March):

The fishing has been tough  due to weather and stream conditions, but I caught this nice brown trout (Salmo trutta) yesterday.

I’ve been all over South Island, but avoiding cities. The variety is extraordinary for such a small place. The scenery around Wanaka is the best, in my opinion, but there aren’t any really bad places that I’ve seen. The Fjordlands are spectacular if you can tolerate the usually rainy weather.




  1. rickflick
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    The Egret’s graceful movements are surely going to attract a mate, but just to be sure, he ends each riff by nipping a stick in the nest, as if to say, “Not only am I this good looking, I can also do nesting chores.” In the human species this would be like on a date, picking up a gum wrapper and dropping it in the trash bin. “See, not only am I this handsome, I can also handle taking out the garbage.”

    • Posted February 23, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always tried to interpret that behavior – I think you may have hit the nail on the head Rick!

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    That’s how we fisherman get our reputation for telling “fish tales,” recycling a photo from a couple weeks ago like that.

    Fish probably grew a couple inches between postings, too, didn’t it? 🙂

    • Randy schenck
      Posted February 23, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      One week ago…Thursday. You exaggerate, fisherman.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 23, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        Good one, Randy. (Must be time dilation due to the gravitational field of the black hole in the White House.)

    • Kevin
      Posted February 23, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink


    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted February 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Different fish. The other one was a bit larger. Jerry made the same mistake.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 23, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        Angler to angler, I don’t doubt you caught another trout, but Jerry posted the same picture for both.

        • Stephen Barnard
          Posted February 23, 2017 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

          Yes, now I see that he did. All these “hero shots” look pretty much the same and are boring, so I didn’t pay much attention. (I have lots of them.) Here’s the one I caught the day before yesterday.


    • Posted February 23, 2017 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t look at the previous photo, but Stephen wrote me that this is a different fish! I’ll try to find the right picture if I mistakenly posted a duplicate.

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Beautiful stuff. I really got absorbed into listening to the various bird calls.

    Tara, in a photography forum I recently came across a posting that linked to this video of yours which is a time lapse of a Pileated woodpecker excavating a tree hole: The commenters there were very impressed by it, certainly. I remember that in Jerry’s book WEIT he writes about the numerous adaptations that woodpeckers have, and in this video one can really see it. Wow, they bang their head hard!

    • Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Mark! Yes, everyone is singing right now :-).

      That same Pileated is working on a pine snag in the side yard as I write this. He never used that cavity he made in the video, but a family of baby squirrels grew up in it followed by a nest of Wood Ducks. Days after the WDs hatched and jumped the snag broke off, unfortunately taking with it the new cavity he and his mate had created about 20′ up from the original one. It was either just before or just after their eggs hatched — I’d watched them incubating. We were out of town and came home to find half the tree on the ground with the parents searching frantically on what remained for their eggs or nestlings. I think they successfully renested elsewhere last year, but am glad they have again chosen our yard for this year’s nest. I just hope their chosen dead pine stands a lot longer than the water oak.

  4. Posted February 23, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    so great

  5. Merilee
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Beautiful swan! We saw a juvenile black swan swimming with its white mother a couple of years ago north of Toronto.

  6. Kevin
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    An aside, Google Doodle is worth a view:

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 23, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      And Pluto is all like: ‘Uh huh‘.

      • Kevin
        Posted February 23, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

        Yeah, seven rocks…kind of breaks the trend. Still, Pluto is a dwarf and if Pluto is unhappy it’s obviously bigoted against small stalky people.

  7. Henry Fitzgerald
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Despite having seen so many, on trips to Europe I still think to myself: “Wow! A white swan.”

    • stuartcoyle
      Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      I have the same reaction.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Black swans are beautiful…and Talib’s book is worth the read. 9/11 is another “black swan”.

    That’s a really nice Brownie Stephen. Are trout indigenous to Australia or were they introduced?

    Great Egret = Awesome!

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted February 23, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Brown trout (and all other salmonids) are introduced species in New Zealand. A peculiar thing is that the trout, and the trout fishing, in New Zealand is very different from in the US and Europe. The fish are relatively few in number, but average much larger. It requires a lot of strenuous hiking to find the fish, but when you find them it’s worth it.

      • Mark R.
        Posted February 23, 2017 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the info Stephen.

        And “…but when you find them it’s worth it.” I’ll say!

  9. Diane G.
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous and completely absorbing video, Tara! The slo-mo with the natural-speed sound track is most effective. The whole really draws one into another world entirely…*

    Nice swan, great catch, Stephen! Have to reset my whole conception of “trout” after seeing that… 😀

    *(A far cry from this just slightly dorkier Great Egret pic I posted in a forum’s humor thread: )

    • Posted February 25, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      Thank you Diane for your meaningful comment. I’ve had other comments on this video that viewers are “transported,” and that is exactly what I am trying to accomplish – taking the viewer there as if he/she is right there with the bird.

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