A surprise trip was what I was asked for.
Mary said “I’ll make lunch, you choose where we go, but don’t tell me till we get there.” My undisclosed destination was Onoke Spit on the Eastern side of Lake Onoke. As we went over the hill, we left behind a somewhat grey day and emerged into bright sunshine and rapidly escalating temperatures. At Featherston, we turned to the South and drove down the length of Western Lake Road until we reached the turnoff road to the spit. A field of canola provided an interesting variation to begin with.
We arrived at lunch time so before we wandered along the spit, we enjoyed a delightful lunch by the car near the water for the second day in a row. This time, no bad weather threatened, and despite a steady breeze, it was very warm. Birdsong was all around, and most easily identifiable was the joyful warbling of the skylark. We didn’t see any for quite a while, but a cheerful little yellow-hammer was enjoying its own lunch within the seeds of the long grass nearby.
With lunch done, we began the stroll along the spit and to our great pleasure we saw significant numbers of banded dotterels. These delightful little birds are hard to find near Wellington, so it was especially good to see them in such numbers.
Because we were on a wide sand-spit with little shelter or concealment, we could not get very close to the birds. As I went forward as stealthily as I could, they retreated just as quickly. I had to use the long lens at full stretch. Then I saw what at first I thought to be a feather blowing along behind an adult dotterel. Closer inspection revealed that the “feather” had legs. A dotterel chick! We saw several more, now that we knew what to look for. Look at the colour of the bird against the beach. No wonder they are hard to find.
On the way down the lake, I had spotted a decaying farmhouse. As we went back, I stopped and asked permission to enter the property to photograph it. The farmer was very delighted that someone had the courtesy to ask first, and gave helpful advice, especially on avoiding the somewhat aggressive bulls in the adjacent paddock.
It was a fantastic day.