As I've probably said before, I think of myself as a bird watcher who takes photos, so it was an honour to have my images published in three books recently.
The first is"Birds of New Zealand A Photographic Guide" by Paul Scofield and Brent Stephenson. When I buy a field guide I generally prefer plates and drawings, but this book is the exception. It's a privilege to have seven of my bird images appear in this stunning publication. Renowned wildlife photographer Brent provided 900 of the 1000 images that appear in the book and Paul's writing is equally as engaging.
The second book is "Ulva Island Visitor's Guide" by Ulva Goodwillie. I supplied more than 30 images for this great little book, packed to the gills (or primaries!) with easy to read information about Stewart Island's jewel in the crown; juicy photos of the birds, trees, mammals and orchids found on Ulva Island.
Lastly, my photo of a stunning Stewart Island sunrise taken on Anzac Day 2012 was selected for the "Pride of Southland".
So far this season I've guided on plenty of pelagics but the weather has not been the best. Skipper Ty often says that great boating weather is not good birding weather. The first few trips down to the reef were slow by our very high standards but recent trips have put Stewart Island back on the map as one of the country's (if not the world!) premier pelagic destinations.
Petrel sightings include Mottled, White-headed, White-chinned and Cook's, not to mention Grey-backed Storm Petrel; Northern and Southern Giant Petrels side by side; seven Albatross species; Hutton's and Buller's Shearwaters; and groups of Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters to sharpen our ID skills. And we've added two new tube noses to our boat list which currently stands at more than 30. A Grey-faced Petrel was seen on a couple of trips; seven or eight Fluttering Shearwaters on another. This small scruffy shearwater is very common around the north of New Zealand as far down as the Cook Strait, I'm surprised we haven't seen it before.
Another newcomer to our boat list was a pair of Australian/Chestnut-breasted Shellduck hanging around with some Paradise Shellduck at The Neck. It was a pleasant surprise for me and a new bird for my Stewart Island list which now stands at 115.
Our clients on guided walks of Ulva Island have been privy to good views of Kiwi, Morepork and Saddleback, and Yellowhead in particular this year have been extremely showy and vocal. The weather has been very unpredictable; one day sunshine, the next day hail and rain; calm days followed by gales; typical Stewart Island.
The year's birding has been good; pelagics in the UK, USA and New Zealand, the Bird Fair etc., but there are exciting projects on the horizon for 2014. Watch this space - and Merry Christmas everyone!