Black-billed gull colony in Central Christchurch

Central Christchurch has undergone transformation since the devastation of the 2011 earthquake, with many buildings being demolished and replaced.  However the partial demolition of one building has had unexpected consequences.  The remnants of the Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) building have become home to a colony of 300 rare black-billed gulls (not to be confused with the common black-backed gulls).  Prior to the earthquake the PWC building was the third highest in Christchurch with 21 floors.  Now, the remaining concrete beams  have about 150 nests perched on them.  The area is fenced and this provides a level of safety for nesting.



Found only in New Zealand and mostly in the South Island, the endangered black-billed gull (Maori name: tarapuka) usually lives on braided rivers and streams with gravel beds.  The number of birds has been in rapid decline.  Chick deaths are mostly from predation by introduced mammals such as ferrets, stoats, cats and hedgehogs.                    


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Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World

High on the escarpment in the Sunshine Coast hinterland are the Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World.  The gardens cover about four hectares, with pathways meandering beside ponds, waterfalls, trees, flowers, gazebos and lawns.  The owner, Frank Shipp, began with a bank canvas in 2005, and has created an environment of great ambience, with the Glasshouse Mountains as a backdrop.

View to the Glasshouse Mountain from above the Weeping Willow Pond (click once to enlarge)

View to the Glasshouse Mountains from above the Middle Pond (click once to enlarge)

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Wildlife at Halswell Quarry Park

A wide variety of wildlife co-exists at Halswell Quarry Park, a  60  hectare  passive recreation area in the city of Christchurch.  It has been encouraged by the native and other plantings within the park, and by  the wetlands, which cover the low lying area.  Some  of this wildlife only resides in the park  temporarily (e.g. the geese and paradise ducks), and some may be seen as pests, but they create a diversity for the many visitors who walk the tracks within the park.  These photos were taken over a two year period during the many hours I spend walking there. (Click once on any photo to enlarge.)

Canada Geese

Canada Geese


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Orana Wildlife Park

Sumatran Tiger

Orana Wildlife Park is on the outskirts of Christchurch city. It is New Zealand’s only open range sanctuary. Its core mission is conservation of endangered animals from New Zealand and other parts of the world. Over 400 animals are in a park-like setting, in enclosures as close to their natural habitat as possible.  Streams, moats and banks are used as barriers, to give visitors a mostly unobstructed view.  Feeding times are organised sequentially, so that in a day, visitors can have an encounter with all the groups of animals.

These are just some of the animals and birds that I saw, on a visit in September 2012. Continue reading

Pandas Big and Small

There’s a wonderful opportunity to see Giant Pandas up close at Seven Star Park, in Guilin,  Guangxi Province, Southern China.  We saw them at feeding time in their large enclosure, but were able to stand on viewing platforms very close to them.

Native to central western and south western China, Giant Pandas are an endangered species.  The exact number of Giant Pandas living in the wild is not known, but could be as high as 2,000 to 3,000.  A 2007 report shows 239 pandas in captivity inside China, and another 27 outside the country.

It was fascinating watching them asleep, moving about and feeding on bamboo when we saw them in Seven Star Park in April 2012.

Sleeping Giant Panda


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