On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

On The Road and In Your Backyard is a weekday feature spotlighting reader submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, please share your part of the world, whether you’re traveling or just in your locality. Share some photos and a narrative, let us see through your pictures and words. We’re so lucky each and every day to see and appreciate the world around us!

Submissions from commenters are welcome at tools.balloon-juice.com


What a wonderful Monday treat – have a wonderful day and enjoy the pictures!

Today, pictures from valued commenter Albatrossity.

Currently traveling and visiting family in New Zealand; we left winter behind for high summer here. So far the country has been beautiful and the wildlife (birds) accommodating. Here are a few images from various parts of the South Island.

Taken on 2018-12-24 00:00:00

Motueka, NZ

White-fronted Tern, in flight. These are common birds on the coast of both islands

Motueka, NZ

Variable Oystercatcher on the Motueka Spit. Very dark oystercatcher, not unlike the Black Oystercatcher found in North America

Taken on 2018-12-30 00:00:00

North of Kaikoura NZ

The road damage from the Kaikoura earthquake has been mostly repaired, and the road along the coast, from Blenheim to Christchurch, is open again. Lots of gorgeous scenery along the way.

Taken on 2018-12-30 00:00:00

South of Kaikour NZ

We ate our picnic lunch at a spot that had a small colony of Red-billed Gulls. There are mating pairs, nesting pairs, and parents tending chicks in various stages of adolescence.

Taken on 2018-12-30 00:00:00

South of Kaikoura NZ

This young Red-billed Gull is molting from the downy natal plumage into the juvenile plumage, and seems to have a halo!


Thank you so much Albatrossity, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form or Send an Email

13 replies
  1. 1
    RAVEN says:


  2. 2
    Mary G says:

    Amazing as always, Albatrossity! The colors are so brilliant and the water colors at the beach are spectacular. How close do you get to the birds when you photograph them? They seem so unperturbed by your presence that I assume you have a pretty long zoom lens.

  3. 3
    JPL says:

    @RAVEN: I know! Albatrossity never disappoints us with his photos.

  4. 4
    Waratah says:

    Lovely. Will you have a chance to photograph a Kiwi bird. Notice I added bird not the other Kiwis.

  5. 5
    Tenar Arha says:

    That oystercatcher’s eye looks so beautiful.

  6. 6
    arrieve says:

    Your birds are always such a treat, Albatrossity!

  7. 7
    Spanky says:

    I’m so happy to see you signing your pics! Your calendar could use some branding. And by “some” I mean a lot. Even if you have no intention of making a money off your photos, you still need to take credit for them. And you *can* make some $$ in the process, even if it’s incidental.

  8. 8
    Elizabelle says:

    Just gorgeous. Am glad you are on an adventure down under. Thank you for making our first Monday morning of 2019 that much brighter.

    I love the molting chick. That awkward age.

  9. 9
    Mr. Prosser says:

    Your photos are wonderful.
    If the Oystercatcher is variable does that mean it sometimes catches other things?

  10. 10
    Another Scott says:

    @Spanky: Agreed. It’s a wonderful calendar, but it doesn’t have any indication anywhere of who took the pictures!!


  11. 11
    WaterGirl says:

    So lovely!

    Can’t believe you aren’t signing your photos as Albatrossity! (obviously kidding)

  12. 12
    Albatrossity says:

    Thanks, all. We’re still down in the Antipodes for a few more days, and I have another batch of 5 photos in the queue here.

    The rig I am using here has a zoom lens that, on the camera body I am using, has an effective focal length of 800 mm. But at that top end, it is not as sharp as I desire, so I crank it back a bit. Most of these are shot at an effective focal length of 600 mm or so.

    Kiwis are hard to photograph because they are nocturnal, and most guides that run kiwi-seeking tours prohibit the use of flash. So no Kiwi pics, although we did hear and see them.

    The Oystercatcher is variable because it does have other plumages besides the brownish/blackish all-dark phase. Some have a lot of white in the plumage. But yeah, they do eat a lot of things besides oysters!

  13. 13

    @Albatrossity: Nice shots. Good to seeing someone carrying on the New Zealand themed pics😁. While I thought I had no more of the kids pics from New Zealand, I was informed over Christmas dinner that there were more from the North Island.

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