The nocturnal, flightless Kiwi is New Zealand’s national bird. While it is generally considered that there are three species, the Brown Kiwi, the Great Spotted Kiwi, and the Little Spotted Kiwi, see also the Wikipedia Kiwi discussion of five species based on modern DNA studies. Getting photographs of Kiwis is not easy. They are easiest to see in zoos, kiwi houses, and preserves but most of these do not allow photographing them. To make matters worse, when photography is possible flash photography is not allowed and since they are nocturnal this involves taking photos with very little light. It is necessary to use manual focusing since auto focusing does not work in such dim light. Even setting the ISO to 16,000 did not seem to help. Since I was using a Sony alpha 55 one useful option was available. That was the ability to take 3 rapid photos in a row and have the camera merge then into a single photo. This was called Night Hand Held mode. It was better than nothing, but as you will see in the included folders, not perfect.
We signed up for the Otorohanga Kiwi House night kiwi walk. This was not really a walk since it involved going to a partially buried blind inside the large fenced off kiwi preserve. This allowed us to see both the male and female the Brown Kiwi feeding, many times.
After that, we were taken to a nearby sector containing the Great Spotted Kiwi. Fortunately, these birds were attracted to light rather than frightened of it. This both allowed clearer photos and close-ups. The kiwi was sometimes so close it was hard to get a good photo with my telephoto lens.
Finally, at the same site we spotted the
Little Spotted Kiwi in the light and were able to get photos in the light beam. Thus, in the space of two hours I was able to see all three species of kiwi and take photos!
The next photo opportunity was on a night Kiwi walk out of Stewart Island. This was a difficult up and down hill at midnight and then beach walk with faint flashlights. We saw several Steward Island Kiwis (a large subspecies of Brown Kiwi) but were not able to photograph any until we were on the beach. This worked, sort of, but the best opportunity was blown with the camera mis-functioned. This was likely my fault from pushing the wrong buttons in the dark. This Steward Island Kiwi
Apteryx australis lawryi is one of the subspecies of Brown Kiwi.
Bonnie Long took the best [live] kiwi photo on a daytime birding walk on Ulva Island. Since the day started with pouring down rain I opted instead for a pelagic trip later in the day. That same rain brought out the grubs and earthworms which is why the Stewart Islands Kiwi come out in the daytime. Since it was a daytime photo, it worked!
Finally, the really great kiwi photos were taken at the Otorohanga Kiwi House museum. These were stuffed animals (Brown Kiwi), but you could not tell the difference if I did not tell you.