Inverted dimorphism

This is the last story article dedicated to my trip to Lapland and Varanger, back in June. We will have a wrap-up post later on, and then we will be done with it. I have some more photographs from Finland and France I want to show you (many I haven’t edited yet…), and of course there will be more content from New Zealand, as I travel further.

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Several animals look different depending on whether you’re looking at a male or a female. Think of the lion: males have a mane, which females lack. Think of the Paradise shelduck (Tadorna variegata): females are orange and white, while males are essentially dark grey.

Paradise shelduck (Tadorna variegata)

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Fenced thus safe: Zealandia, wild in town

New Zealand was separated from Australia some 80 million years ago. Over this period, life evolved into forms seen nowhere else, adapted to their habitat and their potential predators (or absence thereof). Before the arrival of men, 800 years ago, there was no terrestrial mammal in New Zealand, and many birds had lost the ability to fly. When the Maori introduced Polynesian rats (Ratus exulans), and later the European introduced countless exotic species, birds didn’t know how to defend themselves against these new predators. Pests ate birds, while men destroyed their habitat (and ate them too), and in no time, species declined dramatically. Some, like moas or the Huia, went extinct; below is a picture of all the animal and vegetal species that have disappeared since then.

Wall of shame

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Dear diary #5

27.10.2018

Finally, on an adventure again! I spent the last three weeks in Wellington, but today I hit the road. And with style, for I was driving this time! I bought a small van, a Toyota Estima, which will allow me more freedom than when I was hitch-hiking. I can cook and sleep in it, and so I can be wherever I want for sunrise or sunset.

From Wellington, I drove north along the Hutt River, over the Wairarapa Range, and walked in wetlands by Lake Wairarapa. It started to rain as I cooked, first a light drizzle that increased in intensity as I made my way on the scenic road to Cape Palliser, the southernmost point of the North Island.

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Wellington

After Auckland, I spent some time in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. In terms of population, it’s the second largest, but it’s only one fourth of Auckland.

My first impression was really pleasant, as I arrived on a sunny day, by train. I have the feeling that entering a city by train gives me a very idyllic view of the area, as I had the same impression of Auckland even though I didn’t end up liking it much. Maybe it’s only the novelty.

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Kakacophony

I must confess it, I’ve had this article in mind for quite a while. Before I even arrived in New Zealand, I knew I would write an article with this title.

The pun was easy. New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis) are parrots, and as such, I expected them to be noisy. My first encounter with them, in Hahei, confirmed it, but I never got to see them up close. When they flew over the property, though, their cackling voice echoed loud and clear. I was eager to meet them again.

I was looking forward to visiting Zealandia for this very reason. In the hills of Wellington, a huge fence closed an area of 225 hectares, creating a sanctuary free of pests where native fauna can thrive. Most of the birds are similar to those in Tiritiri Matangi, with a notable difference: the Kaka.

I heard them before I saw them, of course. As I walked along the lake, then in the forest, I heard them screech high above. Then I arrived to the feeders.

New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis)

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What’s in a pic: Common redshank

In my first What’s in a pic article (two years already, check it out here!), I described how I used noise reduction to enhance an image. I also presented other tools and techniques, and now that I read the article again, I find my old self quite… naive. A lot has changed in how I approach photography and post-processing, that’s for sure!

In today’s article, I explain the thought process behind the picture of a Common redshank (Tringa totanus) I took on Kylmäpihlaja. Please see my last piece here for more pictures of this beautiful place and its inhabitants.

It started with this shot. I liked the light, warm and soft, and the foreground elements coming from bushes positioned between me and the bird. I liked the background too, but I wanted it more blurred, less distinct.

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A Midsummer night’s dream

In this flurry of New Zealand-related articles, let’s take a break and go back in time, to the most beautiful country in the world: Finland.
These days, I’ve found myself missing this place. First came the northern light pictures all over social media, and then the autumn colors in the forest. It’s not that New Zealand is bad, but Finland… awww, there’s something special about that place.

In the beginning of July, I spent a weekend on Kylmäpihlaja. This small island, located out of Rauma, in the Bothnian Sea National Park, is home to a lighthouse, and birds. Lots of birds.
I had been there about a year before, with my friend Bjørn, but we had spent only a few hours on the island, in the middle of the day. The profusion of birdlife had made me want to spend more time there.

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Calendar 2019 for sale!

Hi everyone, here’s an article a bit different from the previous ones: I’m selling calendars for the upcoming year!

Each month is illustrated with images I’ve made. Among them, 7 bird images and 5 landscapes/cityscapes from Finland, France and New Zealand. Made of glossy high-quality paper, this calendar will look good in your house, or make a perfect gift to your friends and loved ones.

There’s a unique price of 28€ that includes shipping fees; I can also send invoices in New Zealand dollars.

Now with the schedule (please pay attention, it’s important ;)).
To guarantee this price and be able to manage everything before I go offline on a trip to the Subantarctic Islands, I need to know about your order very soon! Therefore, if you’re interested, don’t delay and fill in the form at the following link TODAY: https://samuelbloch.weebly.com/calendar-2019.html

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Steam and birds

After an enchanted stay in Matamata, among owls and wizards, I move south and east to Rotorua, on the shores of Lake Rotorua.

This town is known for its ubiquitous thermal activity – and indeed, when I arrived, I saw steam come out of the sewers. I should have expected it, but… wow, so unsettling! Then I started to understand the importance of it: spas and baths make use of it, but not only, for every motel advertises their hot pool, and most houses (if not all) use geothermal energy for heating.
In return, the whole town bathes in rotten egg smell. It didn’t bother me too much, but when I got out in the morning, it was always a shock. It reminded me of Turkey, Iceland and Chile.

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