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  • Writer's pictureRubber Monkey

NZ Garden Bird Survey 2023 Spotlight


This year’s Garden Bird Survey kicks off tomorrow, which means it's time to dust off those binoculars and get ready to count our birds! To celebrate, we reached out to some talented Aotearoa bird photographers to share their favourite gear and garden birds.


Taking part in the survey couldn't be easier and is integral to understanding how our birds are coping with environmental challenges, so make sure to head out between 24 June and 2 July, count our birds and maybe even take a photo to enter into their competition!



Anna Sephton


One of my favourite garden bird images is this shot of a Tūī that I took in my Mum and Dad's garden in Coromandel in December last year. The harakeke were in full bloom and I love the bright colours of the flowers and the feather detail against that smooth green background.

Anna Sephton Tui

What’s your favourite NZ Garden Bird?

My favourite bird of all is the Kererū (Wood Pigeon). They are really important for the regeneration of our native forests as they are the only bird with a mouth big enough to swallow the large fruit of trees like tawa and kāraka, and disperse it over long distances. They're also very beautiful, so what's not to love?


What’s your favourite piece of camera gear for bird photography?

My favourite piece of camera gear is my Black Rapid Nicole Elliott Camera Sling Strap. I only shoot handheld, and this strap allows me to walk around comfortably all day without getting sore shoulders or back. It also handy pockets for spare memory cards and my lens cover.


Keerti Siag


Baby (Juvenile Tūī) feeding on flax. I love it because this is such a beautiful experience to watch the birds feed in real nature and even more special to see it in my backyard and the local bush. It's such a journey for a rough looking juvenile to turn into such a spectacular bird!

Keerti Siag Tui

What’s your favourite NZ Garden Bird?

Has to be the Tauhou (Silvereye), their size makes them super cute and to watch them feed on fresh oranges is a real treat.


What’s your favourite piece of camera gear for bird photography?

Sony A1 Mirrorless Camera + Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens – the eye autofocus is amazing and the frame rate is perfect for birds in flight.


Anthony Shorrock


Korimako (Bellbird) shot on Portra 400 film. I was just really happy with the composition on this one, you never quite know what you'll get when you're shooting film. I love how much the personality of the Korimako (Bellbird) shows up as well with how fluffed up he is and his angry scowl.

Anthony Shorrock korimako

What’s your favourite NZ Garden Bird?

Hard to pick a favourite but a friendly Pīwakawaka (Fantail) is always a treat.


What’s your favourite piece of camera gear for bird photography?

My Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 lens. Great with both my film and digital cameras. It's my longest lens which is perfect for taking photos of birds and wildlife. It's very heavy however which can be annoying when I take it out hiking with me but it's built like a tank and I'm pretty sure it'll last forever!


D'Artagnan Sprengel


This is one of my favourite images I have captured in my garden. I took this photo in December last year when the flax was in full bloom and there were lots of Tūī frequently visiting my garden, making the most of the flowers. I had been wanting to get an image with two Tūī in it, and when I managed to capture this shot I was very happy.

D'Artagnan Sprengel Tuis

What’s your favourite NZ Garden Bird?

I love all the birds in my garden, and just all birds in general. But my favourite would probably be the Fantail (Pīwakawaka).


What’s your favourite piece of camera gear for bird photography?

My favourite piece of camera gear for bird photography would be my Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 G2 Lens. I love this lens because of the variety of images I can capture with it. It’s not too heavy, so it is easy to carry around for long periods of time and though it may not be the fastest of lenses, I love its big zoom range of 150-600mm. It allows me to capture great closeups of birds as well wider shots of the birds in their environment.


Jamie Fraser


I like this image for its impact. The Tūī is engaged with the viewer - locking eyes. The proximity of the Tūī allows us a great close up view of the amazing white feather detail around the neck.

Jamie Fraser Tui Close Up

What’s your favourite NZ Garden Bird?

The good ol' Blackbird (Manu Pango). Loads of character and a lovely song. Always the first song you hear in the morning and the last, in the evening.


What’s your favourite piece of camera gear for bird photography?

My favourite piece of equipment for bird photography would be my Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 G2 Lens. Bird's can be small! The 150-600mm gives me the versatility of photographing birds that appear in close proximity at 150mm, while also providing the much needed focal length of 600mm for those smaller or further away subjects.


Aiden Kerr


I chose this image of a Wax Eye (Tauhou) because it was one of my personal favourites. I don’t photograph a lot of Garden birds as they aren’t my interest but the sight of a Wax Eye in a tree full of red berries just caught my photographic eye and I had to snap it! I used my Nikon Z6 and a Nikon 200-500mm back when I owned one.

Aiden Kerr Wax Eye

What’s your favourite NZ Garden Bird?

My favourite garden bird would be a Fantail (Pīwakawaka), as they are super friendly. I would call them my ‘forest friend’ when I’m out in the forest photographing New Zealand Wildlife.


What’s your favourite piece of camera gear for bird photography?

My favourite gear to shoot with would be my Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Camera paired with my Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens. Whilst photographing with this kit isn’t light weight, it is awesome for photographing the vast New Zealand wildlife. This is my go-to setup for photographing birds as they usually aren’t too far, but also aren’t close, so having my 300mm handy is great for reaching those distances. Paired with my Nikon Z6 it gives me great hand held stability and it’s awesome for when I’m out in the bush and it becomes dark. Having the mirrorless setup works well for those low light situations. Not to mention it’s incredibly sharp, at F2.8 it gives me the shallow depth of field to my images so I can single out my subjects and make them pop! As I have done in my image.


Shelley Wood


Currently a favourite garden bird image of mine is of this Rosella (Kākā uhi whero) in the rain. I know it’s not a native to us, but I just love how bedraggled this wee guy is, he looks like he had a hard night out.

Shelley Wood Rosella in the Rain

What’s your favourite NZ Garden Bird?

It's very hard to pick a favourite garden bird as different birds have different characteristics at different times of the year. I had some simple Blackbirds (Manu Pango) raise a family very close by and I couldn’t help but admire how dedicated the parents were in feeding their young. It was raining for days but I would always see them outside my kitchen window going back and forth with food and then to see their young out with them, awesome. I will admit to having a soft spot for the little Silvereyes (Tauhau), such entertaining wee birds.


What’s your favourite piece of camera gear for bird photography?

My favourite piece of kit has to be my Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens. This lens has amazing resolution throughout the zoom range with smooth movement and amazing bokeh. I really love that it has an internal zoom so the lens itself stays one length.




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