Monday, 10 January 2011

Eels, Peacocks and Pukekos: Auckland Zoo Again

I went to the Zoo again yesterday afternoon and covered the corner I skipped last time, before my batteries died - apparently videos use them up a lot faster! On the other hand, I barely noticed that I was there three hours, so it may not have been that much faster. I now have a tonne of photos to finish editing - most will go up on the slowly growing Auckland Zoo page.

A lot of animals were sleeping, like the lemurs - but a few appeared to be feeling very lively!

The ring-tailed lemurs were all in a sleepy huddle at the back, so it took a while to find them.

Noisiest animals of the day were definitely the Macaws, peacock and Siamang gibbons.

Creepiest were the eels.
New to me were the several alligators (I thought they only had one, they've got a new exhibit).

This is one of my favourite photos of the day - I like how the reflections seem to go straight through him.

Cutest were the Pukeko chicks and the Golden Lion tamarins.
Off display were all the other tiny monkeys, including the Cotton-topped tamarins, because of rebuilding. The new exhibits look good though.
Saddest was Jane, the old tea party chimpanzee.
Most officious was the Bleeding Heart dove which spent the whole time bustling around on the ground following the Diamond doves and chasing them off whenever they dared land.
Most boring were the wallabies.

Still a lot of people, and still hot - whenever something interesting happened, such as the peacock or the gibbons, an enormous crowd materialised, so I had a lot of trouble getting clear shots. Most of my attempted videos of the gibbons involves lots of bits of people, with a hooting soundtrack! (At least they drowned out the crowd chatter, though, as that was really annoying on other attempts).

I found the eels, in the river just after the Japanese garden. I actually stopped to look at the pair of Pukekos and their little nest of newly hatched chicks and saw an eel being swept down over the weeds. Those babies aren't going to last a week.

One adult Pukeko and two chicks - there's a third running around
but it looked like the runt so probably won't get fed.
Also I love my camera - I was too far away to see
the chicks as anything other than tiny black blobs!

The cluelessness of the birds was demonstrated when one trotted over the log platform/bridge to just under the main traffic bridge and down to the rocks in the shallows to poke around for food.

I saw all the eels emerging, so whipped out my camera, and I caught most of the action...

Behind it, an eel slowly crept up - obviously where they get fed. Closer, closer...

Until it grabbed for the toe of the bird, which jumped back in alarm, as a dozen eels swarmed out (either attracted by blood or the feeding behaviour of the first eel, I don't know).

It escaped, and ran back to the other side, while the eels tumbled and slithered around looking for food.

After a while, they all gave up and retreated back under the banks. Five minutes later the same bird was happily wading back across in the river itself!

I also discovered manual focus and a few other tricks for using the camera at a zoo! I remember the time I first went with my current camera with a friend, and had a lot of trouble with the netting. Well, if you get close enough, and focus far enough away, the wire, bars and nets are either barely visible as an out-of-focus distortion or haze, or not even noticeable!

Also, certain animals are hard to photograph - the eels, because of the reflections on the water (I had to go to the other side and zoom in a lot), the red panda, because the glass is quite hazy and dirty, and the fruitbats and black cockatoos, because I'm not supposed to get close enough to the wire to focus through it.

I had no internet when I got home (a router issue, obviously now sorted!) so I spent the time editing the videos (and sadly they lose SO MUCH quality when shrinking to an uploadable size. But I have to - 50 seconds is 50MB otherwise, and I like not having the internet cut off.)

I managed to grab a shot of the peacock's braying, which I'm pleased with. I'm also highly amused by the song I found for the peacock display video. I had to audioswap half, because of the terrible crowd chatter (some haven't quite worked yet ...)

I didn't see the otters from last time, but I did find the other group, now in the moat on one side of the primate rainforest section (not always there as they hide!).

The golden lion tamarins were very, very, very shiny and golden. There are three and they spent a lot of time freezing in place while they look around quickly at everything... then leaping off into the bushes.

Golden Lion Tamarin postcard
Golden Lion Tamarin by Flynn_the_Cat
Postcards from

I really like the fruit bats, so I was glad to get some kind of recording from them. One large one came down the wire to feed just as I arrived. There are apparently two kinds - the red-headed and the gray flying foxes.

1 comment:

    They are so wiggly and itchy. I remember that from my visit to Queensland in 1986.

    You've got some fantastic photos and fun vids here. I love the "oo" noise those gibbons are making.

    The gibbons in the San Diego Zoo used to have an afternoon rock concert. They'd all get together and sway and rap and beat on various toys as precussion. They love to be heard!

    And that golden tamarind is so cute. I've seen them. You describe their mannerisms perfectly.

    (Also, so I don't spam up your whole blog, the cat with puzzle entry is adorable, although it's a cat being evil.)


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