Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: southern black-backed gull

with 13 comments

Driving S.H. 25 north from Thames on March 6th, I stopped to photograph a gull standing atop a mound of rock at the edge of the Firth of Thames. I think the bird was a southern black-backed gull.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 18, 2017 at 5:02 AM

13 Responses

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  1. Looks majestic.


    April 18, 2017 at 5:19 AM

    • Do you see many of these in Christchurch?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 18, 2017 at 7:26 AM

      • Every now and then one will come and perch on the lamp post outside my house. I call them Mollyhawks.


        April 18, 2017 at 5:53 PM

        • I’d run into that term in the linked article, which points out that “many people do not realise that the mottled brown juveniles (mistakenly called ‘mollyhawks’) are the same species as the immaculate adults.” I wondered about the origin of the word and found at


          that it appears to be an alteration of mallemuck. Presumably English speakers wouldn’t have made sense of “muck” as a kind of bird, and would have changed it to “hawk.” It least that’s a bird, even if the wrong kind.

          The dictionary goes on to give the etymology of mallemuck.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 18, 2017 at 6:51 PM

          • It is a strange word, but until your post I hadn’t thought much about it. It was just one of those words I’ve known forever, and take for granted.


            April 20, 2017 at 5:52 AM

  2. He looks as substantial as the rock he’s standing on. Dignified, too. That’s a nice contrast between the smoothness of his feathers and the roughness of the rock.


    April 18, 2017 at 5:28 AM

    • I was happy that the bird stayed substantially still so I could get some pictures and maintain my dignity as a photographer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 18, 2017 at 7:32 AM

  3. ‘He’ seems to have a posture that states, “It’s about time someone noticed me!”

    • From the photographer’s standpoint it’s the opposite: I hope that subjects don’t notice me, or at least that if they do they don’t mind my presence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 18, 2017 at 7:37 AM

      • so true! yesterday i was at a shrimp harvest, and the egrets, herons, ibis, etc were amazing.. most did not seem to mind my presence….

        i may never ‘catch up’ on managing those images!!!

        • I know how you feel. I’ve been home from New Zealand almost six weeks and I still haven’t finished sorting all the pictures from our trip. That’s what I get for taking thousands of them. I expect your batch will prove more manageable.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 18, 2017 at 8:17 AM

  4. Great shot. I see you use the same website I use for identification.

    Raewyn's Photos

    April 18, 2017 at 2:59 PM

    • I think the bird must have felt safe being on top of those rocks and therefore higher than I was. Other than turning its head occasionally, it stayed put, so I was able to get some good photographs.

      I didn’t get a lot of bird pictures in NZ, but this website has helped me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 18, 2017 at 3:06 PM

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