September 14, 2015 … conservation of birds and machines

Steam whistles are unmistakable for anything else.


Parent preens while the youngsters plead piteously for food

I heard it howling as it crossed the bridge at Moera and saw the plume of steam and smoke as she raced around the curve from Ava to Woburn towards the stop at Waterloo. I had intended to be down there to catch the steam train crossing the bridge. I must investigate these things called mornings one day. Mary suggested a trip to Zealandia, and since the day was looking good I readily agreed. My usual first stop was down by the lower lake where the shags were tending their chicks in the nests on the Eastern side.  It’s a fairly casual sort of nurture, with the chicks squawking piteously  until the absentee parent eventually shows up and the feeding begins.


Tieke or Saddleback making lots of noise

Yesterday Zealandia was brilliant. There was enough warmth in the air for the entire avian chorus to be in full-throated song. Warblers, bell birds, tuis and kakas, saddlebacks, stitchbirds and kakariki all sang merrily. Considering that the saddleback was on the verge of extinction, what a delight it was to see five or six of them competing with each other for the most joyful song. Truth to tell, the song of the saddleback will win no musical competitions. To my ear, it is a shrill manic giggle which you can hear at this link from


Bellbird all puffed up

My favourite call is that of the grey warbler, but though its cascading notes are everywhere, I have had little success catching it with the lens. Another favourite is the clear perfect chime of the bellbird. I am not sure what was happening with this one, whether it simply having a bad hair day, or as a friend suggested, putting on some sort of mating display. The astounding and wonderful thing about Zealandia is that these birds are free and wild. No wires, no cages. Lots of scientific study occurs and the environment in which the birds can prosper is set up. A magical place.

Daffodil express

The annual steam-hauled excursion from Wellington to the Wairarapa to pick daffodils was a sell-out success with thirteen carriages

At the end of the afternoon, I had an appointment with a friend that involved “a wee dram”. However, I had checked the timetable of that steam locomotive’s excursion so before going there, I positioned myself near the Petone flyover in the hope of catching it is it burst out from under the bridge for the run along the harbour’s edge to Wellington.  I know that this cloud of smoke and steam is at odds with the values of Zealandia, but I am glad that the good people at Steam Incorporated are doing their bit for conservation of another kind. J1271 and her sisters are things of beauty too.

That’s all for today.


About wysiwygpurple

Retirement suits me well. I spend much of my time out making pictures, or at home organizing and refining my pictures. This blog provides me with a platform from which I can indulge my passion for improving my photography and at the same time analyze my thoughts about what I have seen, where I have been and what is happening in my life. My images set out to be honest, but that does not mean I have not adjusted them. I use software to display what I saw though the viewfinder to best advantage. My preference is for landscape and nature, and is mostly centred around my hometown of Wellington, New Zealand.
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