Tuesday 27 December 2011

Kea, the alpine parrot

Fox Glacier, Westland National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Keas Nestor notabilis were one of New Zealand birds that I very much wanted to see in the wild. Campsites and car parks are full of notices about not feeding the wildlife and that includes keas. We have even stayed at the Kea campground in Mt Cook, no luck!
But when I was preparing a packed lunch out of the car boot in the Fox Glacier car park, David came round rather excited: there was a kea around. Perhaps it had smelled our food? Anyway, I dropped everything and grabbed the camera. Below is the result of my efforts.
Kea strutting rather fast

 To my surprise it was rather fast. Keas are rather mischievous too. Their feathers are a rather dull colour for a parrot, but when they fly they show some beautiful orange feathers and I'm yet to see that.
Side view showing its parroty beak
Also the characteristic 2 toes at the front, 2 toes at the back. 

Then it went on top of a rock for a nice pose

Note the rings in both legs. Keas are being heavily monitored, their numbers came dangerously low for various reasons. For more see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kea

PS: we did not give it any food, nor did any of the other delighted tourists!

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