A few more pages from this summer's (ever so slowly revealed) New Zealand sketchbook. Above: a harrier hawk (aka Kahu, marsh harrier, or Australasian harrier) - a common sight gliding above open spaces (where the small mammal-getting is good, and roadkill can be spied from miles away); and a sketch of a tahr trophy mount from designer home goods boutique, Vesta, in Queenstown. Tahr are a Himalayan species of wild mountain goat. Around the turn of the century, they joined the company of red deer and chamois as imported large mammal nostalgia for European settlers on New Zealand's South Island - and just like the red deer and chamois (and virtually every other ungulate, rodent, and reptile that was "liberated" into NZ by the Europeans) they made themselves more than comfortable and eventually became extraordinary pests. Government culling programs have reduced their numbers, and they are hunted for sport, but apparently tahr steaks are of questionable quality, so these sure-footed freeloaders have little economic value.
Below: at the icey trail head of one Mt. Cook hike we spent a good 10 minutes bothering a pair of Paradise Shelducks for a decent photo in the rapidly setting sunlight. Positively striking flowl, and even more striking as seen waddling around the snow of the frozen moonscape that is Mt. Cook in winter, Shelducks are endemic to NZ and were a favored game bird for Maoris prior to European settlement. The female is the one with the bright white head, rusty red body, and avocado green highlights... *The fat, happy tabby at page bottom is Basil - world's most patient kitteh.