As foreshadowed in yesterday’s blog, the weather was dismal.
There was wind (no calm water) and periodic and quite heavy rain, and low temperatures. Nevertheless, I had to get out and about. Whenever I am in desperation mode (and sometimes when I am not) I go to Pauatahanui. Sometimes this is rewarding, sometimes not. All of today’s shots are from there.
First, the ubiquitous kingfisher. I have not succeeded in a good diving shot for weeks, and even when this one left its perch, it was to move to a more distant perch, rather than to catch a crab.
A white-faced heron passed overhead at an obligingly low altitude.
A chaffinch was sitting where the kingfishers often choose as their lookout, a sure sign of fewer than usual kingfishers.
On the way out of Motukaraka point, I saw another white-faced heron, this time silhouetted against the reflected glitter of the setting sun.
I took shots but they were not what I hoped for. Pauatahanui provided me with a pied stilt and a white faced heron.
Up on Whitireia Park near the radio masts I found a skylark.
Back at ground level, I was coming around the Western side of the Porirua harbour when I noticed a train heading South. I confess to having always been something of a “train-spotter”. This one caught my eye because it was headed by four locomotives. There are parts of the world where this is commonplace. New Zealand however, has a narrow gauge railway system (3’-6” gauge) and the landscape forces it to follow some tight curves. This is not usually conducive to long heavy trains such as those in the US or Australia.
Tomorrow may not be much better as the weather today was atrocious.
Wind is the biggest hazard for my preferred styles of photography.
A full-blown storm is fine. Flat calm is much better. However, those days when the wind is there, but in the 15 to 40 km/h range, are just unproductive for anything that involves the sea. It is hard to do much with water that is merely choppy.
A kite surfer can sometimes rescue that situation. Yesterday I was at Seatoun near the Wahine memorial park when a solitary kite surfer shot past at a much higher speed than I could legally do in the car. He turned and came back.
As far as I can tell, he was the only person in Wellington who was enjoying the wind.
With nothing else “in the can”, I was a bit desperate as the day was coming to an end, and grabbed this shot of a threatening Western sky from my back door.
If you don’t do it when you first think of it, you may not get the chance later.
On at least two prior occasions, and maybe more, I have posted images of the picturesque old barn on the Wainuiomata coast road. None of the images posted were entirely satisfactory, by reason of light, or weather, or distracting elements nearby. I knew that I needed to seek permission form the land owner and go back at a suitable time. By “suitable time” I mean on a day when the weather is suitable for the picture I have in mind, and during the “golden hour” at the beginning or end of the day. That was the plan.
With a real sense of grief, I have to tell you that the opportunity is now lost forever. What a shock to drive past yesterday and see the old barn reduced to a pile of rubble.
Further down the Coast road, the late afternoon sun offered some nice opportunities. The Wainuiomata stream meanders down the valley gaining strength as it goes, and occasionally offering attractive views as it crosses to one side or the other.
Meanwhile, the seasonal change gathers momentum, and lambs were everywhere, even on the road in some places. I was impressed by the number of twins being produced.
Down at the East harbour Regional Park, the farm managers were mustering cattle from the comfort of their well equipped “ute” (US = light truck). The cattle stayed in the shade at the foot of the hills while the sheep with their lambs stayed in the sun.
Alas the sun has disappeared now so I shall have to seek other sources of inspiration for a few days.
My desk is at the back of the house, facing away from the road and it is rare for me to hear much external noise. However, my neighbours are having lengthy and expensive landscaping work done.
A small truck-mounted concrete pump made an appearance. Engineering of all sorts has always intrigued me so I was interested to see how it worked. It turns out to be a peristaltic pump. A pair of hydraulically driven rollers squeeze the concrete through a heavy rubber hose inside that circular drum on its back deck below the folded boom. The same technology is used in surgeries where small peristaltic pumps can substitute for the heart during surgery.
A much heavier diesel noise, and a lot of yelling was the next distraction. It seems that the truck they sent to deliver the concrete was rather too big for the tight corner on the driveway, and its driver got somewhat tangled up trying to negotiate the steep tight bend.
With a lot of rude words and a few dozen short backing and filling manoeuvres the truck eventually made it to the delivery point. The pump positioned its delivery hose onto the massive new stairway being poured, and delivery began. It took about 20 minutes for the required volume of concrete to pass through the pump and no wheelbarrows were required.
I was somewhat housebound yesterday as I waited at home for a courier delivery that was in fact scheduled for today, not yesterday. I cast about somewhat desperately for topics of photographic interest. Our “garden” consists mostly of rockeries and shrubs, and Mary likes to collect interesting rocks and bits of driftwood. (I often enjoy the vision of some future archaeologist trying to figure out how a piece of this particular rock came to be in this place).
Down by the letterbox where I went four or five times checking without success for the expected delivery, I notice that a neighbour’s overgrown section was blessed with a beautiful magnolia. Despite having done a couple of magnolias recently, I thought this was worth looking at.
I hope to go further today for a better selection tomorrow.
Out in the valley, there was some morning mist flowing down from Upper Hutt to create an ink-wash effect. The forecast, however was for mainly fine weather.
Mary and I had decided the previous day to visit “Zealandia” formerly known as the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. We followed the path down to the wetlands beside the lower dam, and were fortunate to see some net building in progress. A pair of pied shags have chosen a site in tree near the walkway to make their home for the season. While the male goes out to gather suitable construction materials, the female does all the weaving and construction. As the male arrives back on the water near the nest the female get excited and throws back her head and squawks. The male with the mouthful of twigs or weed emerges, dripping, from the water, scrambles up onto the nest and then stands on her back to hand over the precious cargo.
As on some previous occasions, as we went around the tracks, I began to think there was not much happening, and even in the “discovery area”, where I would normally hope for a great variety, a solitary bellbird made an appearance. It was a handsome specimen so I was pleased with that.
However, the further we went up the valley, the fewer people there were around us, and the louder the chorus of birdsong became. Tuis were everywhere. A few kaka (parrots) were making a lot of noise, but the real characters of the day were the North Island robin.
Everywhere we went they came close. It seems that as we walk, we stir up insects, and they are eager to cash in on the bounty. These tiny birds are very brave and at times were within inches of our shoes.
A brief appearance by a saddleback was another highlight. These handsome birds have a lovely patch of rust-red colour across their backs, and are among the few coloured birds in the new Zealand Bush. On the other hand, as the All Blacks demonstrated in Wellington on Saturday night, mastery of your craft is more effective than a gaudy colour scheme (sly grin).
On the way out of the park, we saw a few Tuatara, but for my purposes the little coloured beads added by the scientists for identification and tracking tends to spoil any images. It was a delight then to see a very tiny juvenile (about a fifth of its adult size) which has yet to be marked.
Tomorrow may be less picturesque, but let’s find out about that tomorrow.
In Lower Hutt, the magnificent civic gardens seem to have fallen victim to budget cuts by people who seem not to understand the value of intangibles like beauty and civic pride.
The irreducible minimum of flowering trees and perennial bulbs in the Riddiford Gardens were putting on a good display. Magnolias provided strong colour, while the ever-present daffodils and jonquils in between trees made a strong showing.
My last stop yesterday was at the Seaview marina where I was intrigued to see one of the few working boats manoeuvring among al the pleasure boats. This little trawler does a thriving business selling fresh fish directly to the public in Lowry Bay each Saturday.
I am exhausted from the efforts of getting more interesting pictures for tomorrow so it’s a short edition today.
Roller coasters were never my favourite ride as a kid.
Sensitive inner ear or other issues always made me queasy. Much the same is happening photographically. Some good days, some less so. However, the WYSIWYG portion of this blog’s title is “What You See Is What You Get”
Makara seemed like a good idea yesterday. It is a little bay on the West coast which is sheltered from the South but can be very bleak in a Northerly. The wind was from the North yesterday. The waves were pounding noisily on the rocky beach, but there was not a great deal of interest happening. I tried to catch the backlight on the surf, but the waves were not really impressive enough for that.
A very slow exposure with the aid of a neutral density filter was worth a try to see if I could achieve more atmosphere.
On the way home I swung by the estuary at Hikoikoi. A solitary kingfisher was making the occasional forays from a weed covered log.
A juvenile royal spoonbill walked the length of the beach, obviously on a mission, but having apparently forgotten that it was possible to travel by air.
I may be too old to gambol, but spring is here, no matter what the calendar says.
Lambs and daffodils abound, and gardens are just full of the good news. In fact, the lovely state of the botanic gardens is such that I heard comment about it on the morning news. Now where shall I go today? I know! I’ll go to the botanic gardens! Glad I thought of it.
Though I suspect the best is yet to come, the magnolias, camellias and azaleas are putting on a great display.
Wellington has always been blessed with a particularly expert department of parks and gardens. So was Lower Hutt until budgets got in the way and almost all of its wonderful civic gardens have been turned into bland lawns. Anyway, the botanic gardens are superb, and I was particularly taken with the splendour of the magnolias.
From there I went home via SH1 and over the Haywards. By some strange accident of fate this took me past the Pauatahanui inlet where I could practice my rusty kingfisher skills.
As I have been discussing with my photographic co-conspirators, catching kingfishers actually doing things needs practice and they are really fast.
The image above is a tiny fragment of a full-sized image hence all the digital noise, but it catches the bird in a vertical dive with the tip of its beak already in the water.
Next it emerges from the depths like a Poseidon missile, but with a crab in the beak.
It takes a second or two to reorient itself as it flies off and this one had to do a sharp u-turn to get back to the perch where the crab was consumed.
So endeth the 600th edition of this blog. See you tomorrow.
It may just mean I am floundering around. Yesterday I wandered around a bit, and is often the case when inspiration fails, I go back to the inlet. I have been frustrated by my failure to catch kingfisher diving shots lately.
An explosive emergence from the depths, complete with crab and a shower of spray was some consolation though the image still has technical shortcomings.
At Plimmerton, I hoped to find the rare shore plover, but alas no such luck. I had to settle for this somnolent oystercatcher.
Back at the Hutt Estuary, there was little visible bird life of any kind, but the man in the cherry picker bucket installing a new cell phone tower was a point of interest.
All in all, it was a disappointing day and my last shot was from my bedroom window looking up the valley to the South wall of the Tararuas catching the last direct sunlight of the day.
Perhaps something different tomorrow for my 600th post?