Categories
Art Belmont Regional Park Birds harbour Korokoro Landscapes Light Maritime Railway Seasons Weather Wellington

December 29, 2019 … yet another year is ending

I hope you all had a great festive season in whatever way you celebrate it. Those of our family who were in Wellington gathered for Christmas lunch, and in the evening we were invited to dinner with the family of elder daughter’s in-laws. All in all, they were happy occasions and we took care to stay within the law as far as driving goes.

Long ago, I recall being on a management course, in which someone said that the motto of management accountants was “follow me, I have a rear view mirror”.I laughed out loud and got scowled at by some of the accountants present. I have known some very fine management accountants and am not setting out to offend them. However, the joke appealed to my sense of humour. It also reverberates with the nature of this blog where I am forever looking backwards. This edition, the last one for 2019, is no different.

I seem to have spent a lot of the year lamenting the weather, often blaming it for my lack of photographic inspiration. Perhaps it is time to just rejoice in what has been achieved and to attempt to do better in each new edition.

Glass ornament
Glassware

Mary is an irrepressible volunteer who helps many in the community from young mothers to older folk with dementia. One of the organisations with whom she works gave her this small glass ornament as a token of their appreciation. It is designed as a vase and a flower stem can pass through the halo and a hole in the top into some water inside. I liked the simplicity of the object.

Red-billed gull
Red-billed gull

I was in a coastal car park at Lowry Bay and noticed this gull. It is a red-billed gull (Larus novaehollandiae) … the most common of gulls in New Zealand. It seems that many people stop here to eat their fish and chips or other food, and the gulls associate cars with free food and gather closely in the hope of getting the leftovers. This fellow was very close and quite unafraid.

The tug, Tapuhi
Tug Tapuhi emerging from the rain

We had several days with rain but little wind. I went out looking for opportunities and caught the Wellington harbour tug Tapuhi scuttling across to the Seaview Oil terminal to assist a tanker in its departure. For the technically minded, this is one of two Dammen ASD 2411 tugs in the port. These vessels are a combination of a broad flat platform (24.7 metres long by 10.7 metres in the beam) and two massive Caterpillar diesel engines which drive the two Aquamaster thrust units in any direction. They just push the water aside as they get where they are going. They are not elegant but are certainly effective.

The front door of Wellington railway station
Coming and going at Wellington railway station

The ebb and flow of the commuters at Wellington railway station is always interesting to me. Increasingly, people come and go with a mobile device in one hand and their attention focused on the screen until they become aware of the person coming the other way.

Weather at Wellington Railway station
Midsummer in Wellington … wet, wet, wet

The forecourt of Wellington station is well enough when the sun shines, but on those rare days when it rains in Wellington (grin), it demands a covered walkway. Real Wellingtonians don’t use umbrellas because they self-destruct for no apparent reason. Someone using an umbrella is usually from out of town and has yet to discover the mysterious suicidal tendencies of umbrellas in this city.

Variable oystercatchers
Oystercatchers

The wonderful New Zealand Birds Online website understates the case when it describes the Variable Oystercatcher as being “very vocal”. They scuttle around the shoreline looking for molluscs and invertebrates and scream their outrage if disturbed. They are often seen with a bivalve mollusc clamped firmly on their beak in a last desperate bid to avoid going down that path. The bird always wins.

Graffiti on pill boxes
Remnants of war

High above Wellington on the Polhill reserve below the Brooklyn wind turbine, there are a number of architecturally brutal pill boxes, or gun emplacements. The anti-aircraft guns and the soldiers who manned them are long gone, and only the rusting brackets on which the guns were mounted remain to bear witness. These days, they serve as a canvas for the entertainment of the graffitist. While I acknowledge flashes of brilliance and sometimes actual artistry in the commissioned murals, I generally dislike most forms of graffiti, and wonder what percentage of the gross national product is wastefully consumed in the use of aerosol paint cans. I can’t help thinking that the manufacturers and retailers would hate it if there were ever a serious move to eliminate the practice.

Cruise liner in Wellington
A newcomer on the cruise circuit

Explorer Dream is a cruise ship that, to the best of my knowledge, is new to the New Zealand cruise circuit. It is a relatively undistinguished vessel on which the most unusual feature is its three funnels all side-by-side across the width of the ship. In the background, the tugs Tapuhi and Tiaki can be seen assisting the container ship ANL Wendouree into her berth while the bulk carrier La Chambordais sits between them loading logs and hopes for the best.

A glade in the Korokoro valley
In the Korokoro stream area

A late afternoon walk from Cornish Street in Petone, up the valley beside the Korokoro stream … there was a magnificent chorus of birdsong and a plethora of wildflowers. For the most part the track is sheltered from the vicious wind whipping overhead. It is almost impossible to exaggerate the number of shades of green in the bush that envelopes the track and its tumbling stream.

In Frank Kitts Park
Christmas Day … warm and still

On Christmas morning I got sent out of the house so as to not be underfoot while our lunch was being prepared by the experts. The weather had taken a dramatic turn for the better and there was a warm haze across the windless harbour. I stopped at Wairepo Lagoon near Frank Kitts park and rather liked this view of people enjoying the morning. The lady was striding briskly along the waterfront and the young man in the squatting posture was catching up with his device. The hills behind Eastbourne almost disappeared in the mist.

Kaiarahi heading into the berth
Preparing for a Christmas sailing

I went to the edge of the wharf (the same one seen in the previous image) and saw the Interisland ferry Kaiarahi doing rather aimless little circuits to the South of Matiu/Somes Island. I liked the contrast between the clarity of the vessel and the haze on the distant Tararua ranges. As I set up my tripod, the ferry seemed to sense that it was being watched and made a sudden beeline back to its berth.

Little black shags
Little Black Shags

After a very happy Christmas day in the company of a fair proportion of the family, we come now to that interesting period before the new year. With guests coming for dinner I was again despatched to be clear of the kitchen so I was wandering around the Waiwhetu Stream in Seaview and spotted a gaggle of Little Black Swans perched on a favourite driftwood log. From my own observations I would say that the Little Blacks are the most gregarious of all the shag/cormorant family and they hunt in packs and roost together.

So ends 2019 and we begin to prepare for the new year. Who knows what shape it will take. I hope that as a nation, we continue to pursue the kinder gentler options as we have done for the last two years. I hope that, as individuals, we will live up to the sentiments we expressed about togetherness after the mosque tragedy in March.

And to the greatest extent possible I hope you all experience a heathy and prosperous New Year. I hope to see you in 2020.

Advertisement
Categories
Birds Evans Bay harbour Maritime Railway Tararuas

December 15, 2019 … that old man river … just keeps rolling along

I have just watched a video by a well known photography personality and teacher. Among other things, he was lamenting the somewhat lacklustre progress of his own photography in recent times, and the way his self-image suffered as a consequence. It caused me to re-examine my own situation. Far too much introspection. Not enough simple enjoyment of the process.

Waves slapping the sea wall in Evans Bay
Salt water incursion

For days on end, we have had horrible blustery Northerly wind. Needless to say, this has had its impact on the harbour and beyond. In Evans Bay, the waves were arriving at the sea wall with a resounding slap and then spreading the salt spray across the road. This was not a good time to be driving if your windscreen washer bottle is empty and all the wipers do is give you a salt smear across the glass. And if you point the camera the wrong way, the salt obscures the lens as well.

Life Guard RIB approaching its base
Coast Guard coming home

Further round the bay, Spirit of Wellington, the coastguard’s local rescue vessel was returning to base from a trip out in the rough weather. Her bright fluorescent colour scheme certainly lifts her out of the dull background

Three white-fronted terns
Tern, tern, tern

The white fronted tern is a common visitor to the region, but especially during prolonged windy periods when they huddle in relatively sheltered spots. They always appeal to me because despite their superficial resemblance to common gulls, they are somehow much more delicate, both on the ground and in the air.

Trays of fresh biscuits
Seasonal goodies

Mary is a very fine cook and is generous with providing various baking to the people she is involved with in her volunteer work. Trays of gingernut biscuits and shortbread fresh from the oven offered a visual treat as well as tasting good. I get to benefit too.

A dabchick on green water
New Zealand Dabchick

A change in the weather tempted me to go towards Queen Elizabeth II Park at McKay’s Crossing. I am always pleased if I find some New Zealand Dabchick there. They are a small member of the grebe family with legs set far back on the body and feet designed more for swimming than walking. They have almost zero mobility on land

Rusty locomotive tenders and boilers
Steam Incorporated … possible future projects

Back at Paekakariki, Steam Inc has its base where, as well as the fine restored engines, they have a good collection of items that may someday become part off another restoration. A collection of locomotive boilers and tenders look as if they are retained more in hope than real expectation.

Pied stilts
Pied stilts

Just as Marley haunted the house of Ebenezer Scrooge, I could be said to haunt the wetlands at Pauatahanui in my pursuit of wading and shore birds. The variety seems to have diminished a little of late, but the pied stilts are always there. It’s a sad reality that such beautiful birds seem to behave so viciously towards each other. I am sure there is a parable to be seen in this.

Spectacular sunset
the end of a perfect day

After so many weeks of strong wind and grey skies. a few consecutive days of flat calm and bright sunshine really lift the spirits. This shot from Petone beach looking towards the Miramar peninsula catches the last light of a lovely day. I am at a loss to explain that diagonal trail. It looks like a man-made phenomenon, but if so, by what? Possibly a flight from Santiago to Sydney or perhaps a random military flight.

Ovation of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas at Wellington
Two of the big ones

An unscheduled meeting of two Royal Caribbean giants, Ovation of the Seas and Radiance of the seas brought 7,600 passengers and 1360 crew to Wellington. The Ovation of the Seas had been scheduled a day earlier but she was delayed in Tauranga where 27 of her passengers were killed or injured in the volcanic eruption on Whakaari/White Island. The delay was to allow police to gather material that would assist in identification of the victims. I imagine that for some, the continuation of the cruise was a bit incongruous, in the spirit of W.H. Auden’s “Stop all the Clocks …”. On the other hand there were another 4900 passengers for whom this might have been a once in a lifetime cruise.

Yellow pohutukawa
Metrosideros excelsa (Aurea)

Everyone knows that the pohutukawa celebrates Christmas in all its splendid crimson glory. Except that is for the apparently rare yellow variety “Metrosideros excelsa (Aurea)” Despite its rarity I can drive to at least a dozen specimens quite close to home.

Moonrise over the Tararuas
Last full moon 2019

Mary’s chair is closer to the window so she saw it first. A magnificent full moon rising over the Tararuas into a clear sky! My Olympus camera is in the workshop for a repair under warranty so I grabbed my Canon, a much bigger and less capable camera and just missed the decisive moment … this is looking North East from home across Stokes Valley

Just ten more days to Christmas. I am retired so it poses no special threat to me. Those of you whose work flow becomes frantic, breathe slowly and stay calm and I wish you the strength to deal with the season. See you next time.

Categories
Aviation Birds flowers harbour Maritime Paekakariki Uncategorized Wellington

December 1, 2019 … summer is (theoretically) here

To the best of my knowledge, I don’t suffer from any verifiable form of clinical depression. Others may have a different opinion. Nevertheless, my enthusiasm for various aspects of life, even my beloved photography, has its swings and roundabouts. I suspect that my current photographic passion depends on how long it is since I last made an image that I am pleased with. Or maybe it relates to how many days in the last week or so that I found calm water and reflections. An upturn seems imminent even though the first day of summer is cold, grey and blustery.

A rhododendron
Rhododendrons in green glass

Mary does a lot of volunteer work, so quite often there are flowers in the house from people who are grateful for her help. I get to benefit because I can use them to make pictures. I liked the rhododendrons but particularly liked the drama added by the green glass

A goldfinch in the grass
Another goldfinch

It was just the last edition of this blog that I used a goldfinch image. However, this one allowed me to get quite close, so I couldn’t resist another picture.

Ovation of the Seas berthing in Wellington
Softly softly …

A grey but reasonably calm day … one I can live with. As I was coming down SH2 towards Wellington, I noticed the vast bulk of Ovation of the Seas positioning itself to berth, so I left the motorway and went up into Wadestown. I found a viewpoint and watched as the port’s two tugs helped to ensure that 168,666 gross tonnes do not arrive alongside the wharf too quickly. It was fascinating watching the pulsing of the ship’s thrusters and the restraining efforts of the tugs. And then there was the good old fashioned mooring gang who received the thrown weighted top and than hauled the enormous hawser ashore and put it on the bollard. The ferries Kaiarahi and Aratere were dwarfed by Ovation of the Seas.

Dry Fennel
Delicacy

Otaihanga is on the Southern side of the Waikanae estuary and I enjoyed a walk down the riverside path. I wasn’t seeing much apart from a few grumpy whitebaiters, but I liked the morning light on these dried out plants. I am not entirely sure, but think they are fennel.

Roy al spoonbills sleeping
Royal spoonbills enjoying a royal siesta

There was a time when we first returned to Wellington when the royal spoonbill was a rarity … truly exotic. Now, they are relatively common in the Hutt Estuary and around the Porirua Harbour. Around Grey’s Road I counted eleven at Ration Point and another thirteen at the Kakaho stream, and no, they were definitely two different flocks.

Locks on a fence at Paekakariki
Held captive by the view

The Paekakariki hill lookout offers spectacular views, though I find it difficult to present an image that catches it in a new way. I noticed that the wire fence that keeps tourists from falling over the steep drop down the hill has suddenly acquired an infestation of “romantic” padlocks. They don’t thrill me and they usually cause the wire to rust, but it gave me a different view over the coast.

Sunflower
Yellow

On days when I am disinclined to venture out, I often find something inside to attempt a still life shot with. I always find sunflowers to be spectacular, and the the florist who provided this one wrapped it in bright yellow paper. I taped it to the window and started shooting. Definite possibilities there.

An RNZN sea sprite helicopter hovering over the Endeavour replica
Seasprite and Endeavour

For the last month or so, a flotilla of sailing ships called Tuia 250 has been sailing around the country commemorating the first arrival of Captain James Cook, The flotilla includes the replica of HMS Endeavour, the sail training vessel, Spirit of New Zealand, and three double-hulled pacific sailing waka. They have been escorted by HMNZS Wellington. I am aware that there are political sensitivities around this commemoration since, for some, it marks the beginning of colonisation. I acknowledge that many injustices followed on from the arrival of pakeha and that many of these need still to be rectified. On the other hand, this marks the beginning of the process from which modern New Zealand evolved.

I love the ships for their own sake and to my great joy, I was on Petone beach when the flotilla did a sail-by. And they did it with sails set. I envied the RNZN photographer who had the ultimate photographic accessory .. a Seasprite helicopter.

Sail training ship Spirit of New Zealand
Spirit of New Zealand

The Spirit of New Zealand is a reasonably frequent visitor to Wellington, but all too often, she travels under power with bare poles. On this occasion she had a good number of sails set and presented a pretty picture.

That will do for now. See you next time.