Meet the photographers of NZ Birds Online #3

Adult morepork with juvenile. Blowhard Bush, Hawkes Bay, January 2013. Photographer: Adam Clarke © Adam Clarke, courtesy NZ Birds Online

Adult morepork with juvenile. Blowhard Bush, Hawkes Bay, January 2013. Photographer: Adam Clarke © Adam Clarke, courtesy NZ Birds Online

Packed full of stunning pictures, detailed information and beautiful bird calls, NZ Birds Online is an online encyclopaedia of birds created in collaboration between Te PapaDOC and OSNZ.

We’re indebted to the photographers who’ve shared their images with us – and now the world! Joining us for our Meet the photographers series is Adam Clarke, who had the privilege of photographing the elusive long-tailed cuckoo.

How did you get involved in the NZ Birds Online project?

I got involved with Birds Online through seeing Colin Miskelly’s photo requesting posts on the NZ Birds Online website. I first emailed him my long-tailed cuckoo photos and he set me up so I could then add further images of other species.

What image (or images) are you most proud of on NZ Birds Online?

Juvenile long-tailed cuckoo being fed by whitehead foster-parent. Blowhard Bush, Hawke's Bay, December 2011. Photographer: Adam Clarke © Adam Clarke, courtesy NZ Birds Online

Juvenile long-tailed cuckoo being fed by whitehead foster-parent. Blowhard Bush, Hawke’s Bay, December 2011. Photographer: Adam Clarke © Adam Clarke, courtesy NZ Birds Online

The image I am most proud of is the juvenile long-tailed cuckoo being fed by the foster whitehead parent. This interaction has been rarely photographed and I have never seen a photograph of the precise moment the whitehead puts food into the cuckoo’s giant gape.

The image took me 6 hours to achieve. I had initially spotted the cuckoo at 10am, only because a tui was mobbing it. For most of the day it followed its whitehead parents around yet always quickly hid itself in foliage. I kept track of the cuckoo by listening out for its raspy begging calls. Finally at around 4pm the cuckoo landed on a rata stem in the open and I was able to get some clear shots.

Juvenile long-tailed cuckoo. Blowhard Bush, Hawke's Bay, December 2011. Photographer: Adam Clarke © Adam Clarke, courtesy NZ Birds Online

Juvenile long-tailed cuckoo. Blowhard Bush, Hawke’s Bay, December 2011. Photographer: Adam Clarke © Adam Clarke, courtesy NZ Birds Online

What’s your favourite bird species to photograph?

My favourite bird would have to be the long-tailed cuckoo. It is an impressive size and in appearance the adult is quite striking with its long barred tail.

I like the fact it is rarely photographed due to its elusive nature, and I enjoy the challenge of trying to locate it, being patient and hopefully being rewarded by getting a sighting (and photo!).

Do you have any tips for aspiring wildlife photographers?

If I had any tips for aspiring wildlife photographers trying to spot and photograph birds in the bush it would be this: you need to make yourself all eyes and ears.

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Knowing what the species looks like and especially all the sounds it makes are essential. Walking through the bush with groups of people who are all talking is only going to drive any birds away. One needs to take the time to proceed slowly and respectfully. My approach is to walk a few steps, stop and look around 360 degrees. This is how I have spotted most of my moreporks. If you are walking quickly then any moreporks ahead of you on the track will be startled and flush. If you proceed slowly and quietly then you will be rewarded by seeing roosting moreporks staring back at you.

What camera equipment do you use?

My equipment is the following: My camera equpiment is Canon 60D camera, Sigma 100-300 f4 lens for the bush, and Sigma 50-500mm lens for open spaces such as estuaries and wetlands.

Thanks for joining us Adam! Looking forward to seeing more of your cuckoo photos soon.

Check Te Papa’s blog next week for the next instalment of Meet the photographers series.

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4 Responses

  1. Trent

    I know there are not a Great deal of good pics of reef herons, which is why I want to point out that at least one appears to have taken up residence in the Tauranga harbour near town, and I have been able to get within twenty meters several times. Just for anyone who might be interested in catching this enigmatic bird, only 300 to 500 est in NZ!

    Reply
  2. Ruth Hendry

    Thanks for your lovely comments, I will pass them on to the photographer. His images are beautiful!

    Reply
  3. Pamela Moresby

    I love this picture, I photograph birds myself.

    Reply
  4. Julia White

    I find the photography superb, especially the juvenile long tailed cuckoo being fed by whitehead foster parent, Im just blown away by that photo.
    It has cheered me up no end.

    Reply

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