The perks of a pandemic are few and far between, but one activity that grows in popularity every lockdown is bird-watching. With less noise and air pollution, the island’s birds are out in full force, and budding wildlife photographer Lahiru Bandaranayaka (who goes by the name Banda) is out early most mornings and evenings in search of the perfect shot.

“I’ve been noticing lots of birds around in lockdown – I think they realise human activity at this time is small. Lately, I’ve been tracking kororā/blue penguins and morepork/ruru.”

Banda, who has lived on Waiheke since 2017 and works as a sous chef at popular restaurant Three Seven Two, has been taking nature-based photos since he moved here.

Just last month, he was lucky enough to snap some stunning images of local kākāriki after he spotted the elusive birds on two consecutive days. After one of his friends alerted him to a Te Korowai o Waiheke competition calling on islanders to share sightings of the rare New Zealand parakeet, Banda decided to try his luck despite never having seen the birds before.

Over the course of three days, he visited Whakanewha Regional Park on six different occasions – just after sunrise and before sunset each day in the hopes of spotting the rare kākāriki, which are often confused with rosellas. • Sophie Boladeras

Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!

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