June 20, 2013 … it may get ugly from here on

The rough weather for Wellington was supposed to start yesterday.

It didn’t happen, really, and indeed is still calm as I write. At worst, yesterday was grey and moody with some occasional drizzle. There was no wind at all,  and that suggested that the harbours might be still, and possibly beautiful. Sure enough, at Pauatahanui despite the  low grey cloud and mist around the hills, the inlet was just serene.

Royal spoonbills were grazing in the shallows near the road, a few ducks cruised without obvious purpose a little further out. The harbour was reflecting colourfully from shore to shore. I knew this had the potential for some special shots.

Royal spoonbills feeding at Pauatahanui

Across the water is Motukaraka point where most of my bird shots are caught

As I went back to the car I noticed a pair of fantails on a nearby tree kept launching into their fluttering and apparently random circuits and landing back in the tree. Fantails are hard to catch in flight, so I was lucky to get a usable shot. It wasn’t until I got the image on the computer at home, that I saw what they were really doing. That’s a swarm of midges or sandflies and the birds were harvesting them mid-air. I thought for a dreadful moment that I would need an expensive ($100) sensor clean.

Fantail in pursuit of sandflies

Those insects were quite invisible to the naked eye.

At Motukaraka point, I noticed that the kingfishers were present and  making the most of the still conditions.  I managed one low altitude flyby shot.

Kingfisher with crab

Having caught the crab, the bird seeks a safe place on which to eat it.

However, the milky stillness of the water was such that, on this day, the stars of the show   were the pied stilts (Himantopus himantopus) . Their black and white plumage and red legs against the flat calm water were irresistible.

Pied stilt contemplates stick

It may be a while before such conditions occur again

The only marks on the water were the ripples caused by their own movement.

A pair of pied stilts

Even when wading quite quickly, they make little fuss.

It’s always funny watching a  bird hunting through its own reflection. From the outside, it looks a lot like narcissism.

Stilt reflected

Who’s a pretty boy then?

And then the rain came. Not violent, not heavy, but wet. This could have been the start of something big. For some reason I was reminded of an old song made famous in 1958 by Jane Morgan: “The day that the rains came down” * If you follow the link, I chose a version where she sings it in French (Le jour où la pluie viendra) because it has more punch than the English version.

... and then the rain came

Looking across the inlet to Whitby

Happy with my day’s shots, I left.

The weather will come.

* The Day that the Rains Came Down Songwriters: Gilbert Becaud, Pierre Delanoe and Carl Sigman

About wysiwygpurple

I am a family man, a passionate amateur photographer and a retired academic . What's the purpose of this blog? Well in the first instance it provides me with a platform from which to resume writing, an activity I greatly enjoy. What will the blog be about? Anything that takes my fancy but it is likely to arise from things I see and experience, in my family, in my travels, or anything else I feel like. Each daily post will contain one or more images made the previous day. Sometimes the image will illustrate the points made in the prose, and sometimes the prose will attempt to interpret the image. What kind of images will they be? Always safe for work and family. Usually they will be representational, and sometimes they will be impressionistic or experimental.
This entry was posted in Birds, Landscapes, Light, Pauatahanui, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to June 20, 2013 … it may get ugly from here on

  1. Great shots and I particularly like the first one

  2. Judi says:

    Fantastic fantail shot!!

  3. Ellen says:


  4. Lawrence Herzog says:

    Fabulous shots of the pied stilts!! Irresistible is right!

  5. Sally Wallis says:

    Reading how bad the weather has been in Wellington, we do hope this finds you and yours okay.
    You are in our thoughts and prayers.
    Sally and “Chico”

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