Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A year ago today (sort of)

with 37 comments

A year ago today (going by the calendar and ignoring the time difference between Texas and New Zealand) I visited the gannet colony at Muriwai, which is on the west coast of the North Island.

People Watching Gannets 3520

The first picture includes only two gannets. Mostly you see lots of flax plants, Phormium tenax, surrounding an observation platform jammed with tourists who seemed to be staring as much at each other as at the birds. I had to wait a while for an open space at the rail, but eventually I was able to get some photographs of the gannets down below:

Gannet Colony at Muriwai 3571

If you’d like a closeup of an Australasian gannet, Morus serrator, you’re welcome to look back at a post from last year.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 7, 2016 at 5:04 AM

37 Responses

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  1. That’s a lovely juxtaposition of photos. In the first photo, it’s almost as if the birds are inspecting the people on their perch.


    February 7, 2016 at 5:09 AM

    • It’s easy to imagine a two-way inspection, isn’t it? Birds wheeled past fairly often while we were there.

      We hope you spent an enjoyable Waitangi Day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2016 at 5:17 AM

      • It was quiet and pleasant, and I very much enjoyed listening to and viewing items on the new Museum of Waitangi http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday/audio/201788348/claudia-orange-the-waitangi-museum


        February 7, 2016 at 8:36 PM

        • I think that’s the first I’ve heard of the new museum. We missed it by a year.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 7, 2016 at 10:43 PM

          • It will be waiting for your next visit.


            February 8, 2016 at 2:39 AM

            • “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 8, 2016 at 7:24 AM

              • Favourite words, but every time I say them or read them, I have a blindspot about who wrote them. Milton, Milton, Milton….. and maybe I have just hit on a way to remember; ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.’ Blindspot = Milton


                February 8, 2016 at 5:38 PM

                • That’s an excellent mnemonic—provided you remember that Milton had become blind, which you seem to recall readily enough.

                  Last year I attended the wedding of a former student. At one point she was waiting outside the church until everyone was seated, in preparation for coming down the aisle, and when I passed by her I quoted that line to her. She wasn’t familiar with it, so some time later I sent her a link to the sonnet.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 9, 2016 at 12:13 AM

                • It’s a great line for many occasions.


                  February 9, 2016 at 12:56 AM

                • I’ve just learned that Occasio(n-) was a Roman goddess, the personification of chance and opportunity:


                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 9, 2016 at 7:25 AM

                • Thoroughly enjoyed that link. Most intriguing for me is the idea of seizing the forelock because it reminds me of this Ethiopian tradition.
                  Quntcho: This hairstyle is used mostly in toddlers and the very young. It consists of a tuft of hair on top of a shaved head. In Ethiopian tradition, the angels save the child from mischief and trouble by holding them by the tuft of the Quntcho hair. This Quntcho style however is disappearing in large towns but it is still common in rural Ethiopia where it is a sign of tradition and not backwardness.http://ethiopedia.blogspot.co.nz/2008/07/ethiopian-hair-styles.html


                  February 9, 2016 at 5:52 PM

                • I had no idea there were so many traditional ethnic hairstyles in Ethiopia. The Quntcho seems quite similar to the Mohawk style of the American Indian tribe of that name.
                  I also like the name Ethiopedia.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 9, 2016 at 7:54 PM

                • It is similar but unlike the Mohawk it is a hairstyle only for children.


                  February 9, 2016 at 8:50 PM

                • Thanks for the clarification; I didn’t realize it’s only for children.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 9, 2016 at 10:01 PM

  2. It was fun to see that portrait of the lone gannet again. And once again, I’m impressed by the water. Its clarity and color is quite something.

    I read in the linked article that Muriwai is one of the primary nesting spots for the gannets. They certainly make use of their space. And I laughed at your juxtaposition of the colony of birds and the colony of tourists. I wonder what the collective noun for tourists might be?


    February 7, 2016 at 8:25 AM

    • Muriwai is only an hour or so from the Auckland area and therefore easy for many people to visit. The first collective noun that came to mind for tourists in a place like this is horde. The second is mob.

      I miss that quality of the water around New Zealand. There are protests over there about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which I wish could somehow allow Texas to import a span of sea from New Zealand.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2016 at 9:49 AM

  3. Flock, perhaps? I laughed at this juxtaposition too.


    February 7, 2016 at 9:15 AM

    • I’m afraid flock would suggest the birds rather than the people, although we do talk about people flocking to a sale at a store or flocking to the beach on a sunny summer Sunday.

      I’m glad you appreciated the juxtaposition. I don’t often get the chance here for humor of that sort.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2016 at 9:51 AM

  4. Flock works for me in both cases as back in the day there was a band called “A Flock of Seagulls” which always bugged me since the birds are not really called sea gulls, but gulls with a descriptive name before as Linda probably knows. Just one of those little things an old curmudgeon like me gripes about like Canadian Goose. So obviously the flock can be people and not just gulls or gannets. I was going to add leap year into the equation for the year question, but that only comes into play after the 29th.

    Steve Gingold

    February 7, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    • Curmudgeons of the world, unite: we have much to lose if we refrain. Hold a curmudgeon convention, and I’ll bet plenty of folks would flock to it.

      Many people think that every four years we have a leap year, but that’s not quite true. Century years (1900, 2100) are not leap years unless the century part itself is divisible by 4. So 2000 was a leap year, and 2400 will be too, though I don’t think many of us will be around then to care about the extra day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2016 at 10:45 AM

      • Uh-Oh. I had big plans. Maybe cryogenics will save the day.

        Steve Gingold

        February 7, 2016 at 11:09 AM

        • Sorry to spoil your long-range plans. If a natural disaster or a cyber attack knocks out the power for a long time and you thaw out, do they give you your money back?

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 7, 2016 at 11:22 AM

  5. Amazing, those crowds: of birds and watchers! 😉
    Have a great Sunday,


    February 7, 2016 at 10:33 AM

    • It took some climbing to get up to that platform. A place in your neck of the woods that takes some climbing is Enchanted Rock, which can be similarly mobbed (with people, if not birds) on a pleasant Sunday in spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2016 at 10:49 AM

      • Steve,
        but one can also find Enchanted Rock without (too many) people [http://tinyurl.com/gumymtt].
        Enjoy your Sunday afternoon,


        February 7, 2016 at 1:09 PM

        • Thanks for the link to your picture. I think you’ll agree that for (relative) solitude it’s best to visit Enchanted Rock during the week and to stay away on weekends.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 7, 2016 at 5:44 PM

          • Living that close to it, it is easy for us to choose the right day and time.


            February 8, 2016 at 10:34 AM

            • Yes it is. From Austin it’s about a two-hour trip each way to Enchanted Rock, so we don’t often go. You’re fortunate to have it so close.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 8, 2016 at 11:18 AM

  6. At Cape Kidnappers you are on the beach among the gannets. No fighting with other tourists. There you look up at the gannets. (A subtle hint here to come to Napier next time)

    Raewyn's Photos

    February 7, 2016 at 12:36 PM

    • I remember reading about Cape Kidnappers in my NZ guidebook. There were many places I was sorry not to visit, but we ran out of time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2016 at 5:41 PM

  7. Love the photos you included in your post. New Zealand is on my “Bucket List”; I’d love to hike some of the well known trails in this part of the world.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    February 7, 2016 at 11:14 PM

    • Go for it! The South Island is especially known for its tracks (which is what trails are called in New Zealand).

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2016 at 11:41 PM

  8. I also appreciated the humour in the first shot. The people look like they are inside a cage being observed by the gannets. When I first opened the page though, what struck me most was how crowded the humans were compared to the spaces the resting gannets below were giving each other. I’m afraid I wouldn’t have stayed long on the platform. I usually try to escape such situations. 🙂


    February 8, 2016 at 5:27 PM

    • I normally avoid crowds too, but in order to get pictures of the gannet colony I had to get close to the rail on that platform, so there was no choice but to wait for people to gradually move out so I could insinuate myself closer and closer to a choice viewing position. I also saw the humor in the situation, and that’s why I took the first picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2016 at 12:04 AM

  9. I know exactly where this is! Just down the road. Time for me to grab the camera and visit those gannets ..😊


    February 8, 2016 at 10:24 PM

    • Yes, you have the advantage of being close, so go for it. I wish I were that close to a scenic beach.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2016 at 12:05 AM

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