It must have been a big bang.
For the second time in just over a year, one of the new trains failed to stop at the end of the Melling Line. Last year, there was a teeth-jarring bang and the concrete block at the end of the line was shifted several metres. Yesterday’s effort was much more ambitions. The driver was approaching Melling and realised that his brakes were not work and yelled to the passengers to brace. This time, the train climbed up onto the concrete block as was stranded there for the rest of the day. I grabbed a shot as I was waiting at the Melling lights.
Did I mention that the wind stopped? Pauatahanui was near glassy calm, and though the thermometer was not achieving any great heights the day looked warm, and the spirits lifted. Even better, there were kingfishers. After a seeming absence of several months they have come back in numbers.
Then one of the kingfishers chose a perch near me and seemed to strike a rich vein of crabs. Soon it was enjoying the rewards of a vigilant watch and excellent flying skills.
Occasionally, it would fly off elsewhere, so while I waited for more action I looked to see what else was about. Out on a sandbank, some of the resident Royal Spoonbills were dozing in the sun, sticking their head out now and then to preen.
Kingfisher action was still my primary interest, and I was pleased with some of the sequences I caught. They often hover just before the dive, probably to line up on the intended menu item.
Then it’s head-first into the water,with a significant splash, though I seem to have caught this one just before the big fuss.
Most of the time they emerge triumphant with a struggling crab in their beak.
Then its back to their chosen perch to beat the scratchy bits off the crab before swallowing the remains.
I said my primary target were the kingfishers. Yesterday, however, I struck it lucky as I was driving home. As I reached Ration Point, I saw something irregular about the small rocks near the water. Parking the car, I walked back to the place I had seen, and could scarcely believe my luck. There was a significant group of banded dotterels among the rocks. About the same size as the rocks and not greatly different in colour, they had done a good job of pretending to be part of the beach. I got low and did an elbow crawl through the reeds. Happily I didn’t disturb them and got some nice shots of these endangered birds.
It was a good day