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

Sorry I missed Friday, my new laptop went kaput and I blew all tech-type-stuff off and cooked up a storm until late Thursday and forgot all about things. Luckily I have more than one computer, so I’m still can get things done while I await its repair/return!

I hope this fantastic submission makes up for things. Tomorrow we return to Africa, and we’ll see what else in store this later this week.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!


Today, pictures from valued commenter Albatrossity.

Kapiti Island lies 6 km west of the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. It is the oldest of the island bird sanctuaries in the country, being established in 1897. The Little Spotted Kiwi was saved from extinction when some of these birds were translocated to Kapiti from the mainland over a century ago. It now has healthy populations of kiwi and many other NZ endemic birds. It is also a fabulous place to visit simply for the scenery!

Taken on 2019-01-05 00:00:00

Kapiti Island, New Zealand

The Tui is a nectar-feeding species, about the size of the Common Grackle found in the US. It is a melodious vocalist, and the sounds of the Tui were among those that greeted Captain Cook in his voyages to these islands. Tui can be found on the main islands, but are really abundant in the sanctuaries where their nests are not being predated upon by rats, cats, stoats and possums. This one is perched on the flowering stalks of a plant that the New Zealanders call Flax ( Phormium tenax), even though it is no relation to the flax plant (genus Linum). The Maori used fibers from this plant to make fabrics.

Taken on 2019-01-05 00:00:00

Kapiti Island, New Zealand

The Kaka is a medium-sized parrot that also suffered from the introduction of mammals to these islands. They are smart, inquisitive, persistent beggars when you are trying to eat your lunch in their territory. They will unzip your pack and haul off the food (or your car keys…) if you leave your pack unguarded in their presence.

Taken on 2019-01-05 00:00:00

Kapiti Island, New Zealand

The Kakariki (aka Red-fronted Parakeet) is a small parrot that formerly was widespread in the country, but was decimated by the introduction of mammalian pests. This one is eating the seeds of another introduced pest, the dandelion.

Taken on 2019-01-05 00:00:00

Kapiti Island, New Zealand

The Weka is a flightless rail about the size of a bantam chicken. This youngster still has fuzzy down feathers, but was quite mobile and following its parents and sibling abound the island. These birds are omnivorous, but also will hang out at picnic sites to look vainly for a handout.

Taken on 2019-01-05 00:00:00

Kapiti Island, New Zealand

The Hihi (Stitchbird) is a nectar-feeder and is another example of a species that was saved by active human intervention, after it was reduced to a single remnant population on Little Barrier Island. Relocation to sanctuaries began in the 1990’s, and self-sustaining populations are now found in several sanctuaries across the country. Most New Zealanders have never seen one, even though it was one of the commonest songbirds before European colonization of the country.


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
    JPL says:

    Albatrossity, I enjoy your comments as much as your pictures. Thank you so much for submitting them.

  2. 2
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Boids!! Look at the boids!

  3. 3
    arrieve says:

    I am always in awe of your bird pictures, Albatrossity. I love to photograph birds but I get nine photos of an empty branch for every shot of an actual damn bird.

  4. 4
    waratah says:

    You always find the most interesting birds. Novels I have read set in New Zealand all of them mention hearing the Tui, the Kaka is mentioned frequently. Now I can picture them when mentioned. Thank you for your lovely photos.

  5. 5
    David Evans says:

    Great pictures. I love the way you brought out the colours of the Tui. I would probably have just looked at it and thought “black – boring”

  6. 6
    Mary G says:

    Always so excited when I see that Albatrossity has another set of photos here! And I agree with @JPL: that your comments on their habits and personalities do so much to supplement the photos. I hope the car keys the Kaka stole weren’t yours!

    Good on the New Zealanders for preserving them.

  7. 7
    Mr. Prosser says:

    I’m glad humans had the sense to make island sanctuaries, sometimes we seem as smart as a Kaka. What a cool bird.

  8. 8
    Albatrossity says:

    Thanks, all. NZ has some pretty cool birds, not quite as many as used to be there, but the people there are dedicated to bringing them back. Island sanctuaries and fenced mainland sanctuaries like Zealandia, Maungatautari, and Brook Waimarama seem to be helping a lot!

    No, the Kaka did not get my car keys, thankfully. We were familiar with the ways of the Kaka from previous trips, when one of them sauntered into our rented cottage on Stewart Island and looked around for something to eat/steal. The one pictured above did land on my shoulder while I was eating lunch, but I managed to finish without losing any food to this wily bird!

  9. 9
    stinger says:

    Amazing photos, as always!

    Albatrossity, I must ask if you are related to the wonderful actor of the same name?

  10. 10
    Albatrossity says:

    No relation as far as I know. The actor with the same name as mine changed his name from his birth name David Wilson. Rintoul is a relatively common name in Scotland, where he was born and where my great-grandfather emigrated from.

  11. 11
    Another Scott says:

    The pictures you submit here just keep getting more and more amazing. Thanks very much, Albatrossity.


  12. 12


    I get nine photos of an empty branch for every shot of an actual damn bird

    That’s pretty much my record too, though ducks seem to be pretty easy to snap pics of.

  13. 13
    J R in WV says:

    Sensational photos, again, still, more, also too!! Thanks for the photos and the comments, as without the comments we would all be looking these babies up trying to find what they are and their habits.

Comments are closed.