adversity Animals Birds Botanic gardens flowers Hastings Hawkes Bay Landscapes Weather Wellington

February 13, 2017 … our missing summer

The wind outside my window has averaged somewhere over 100 km/h today according to a report I heard on the radio. It has carried rain with it for much of the day, and no hint of summer. There are reports that this has been our worst summer for over three decades.

Evening in the Takarau gorge

Such summer as we have had seems to have been doled out with a fine day here, a fine day there and several days of foul weather in between. We take them when we can get them.

Something of an agricultural crime these days is letting farm animals into the waterways. These two sheep marched in musical unison across the water and clambered up the steep hill beyond.

And then we wait for the next one.

I find the dabchicks intriguing,. They look so severe.

It seems I missed the part of the dabchick life cycle where the new chicks are carried about on the parents back. The youngsters are already too big for that.

Dry hills
The dry hills to the South of Hastings

This seems to be a localised phenomenon. With a couple of friends I drove to Havelock North and back for the funeral of a good friend and former colleague. It seems that the Hawkes Bay region has been as dry as Wellington has been wet. The hills and most pf the paddocks are parched and often it is hard to see a flock of sheep since their wool is almost the same colour as the sun-bleached grass.

Begonias in all their glory

Back home, some days just didn’t offer any hope of outside action, so I chose to visit the Begonia House in the Lady Norwood garden in Wellington.  No matter what the time of year, they always have some wonderful specimens in bloom.

Water lily … I couldn’t find where the battery was hidden

On this visit, I enjoyed the proliferation of water lilies.  The heart of the flower seemed to be on fire.


Aviation Birds Clive Hastings Landscapes Napier Te Mata Peak

January 12, 2014 … no goatherds up here

Getting to the top of Te Mata Peak on a mountain bike is no mean feat.

From Te Mata Peak
With the Hawkes Bay spread out before me

I never could do it, but admired the ease with which the very athletic man we were driving behind was achieving it. At the top I set up a four-shot panorama looking to the West and North. If you are familiar with the Hawkes Bay you will see Havelock North immediately in front of the hill, with Hastings City out beyond that. Over to the right, Napier is on the Coast and Clive is just on the nearer side and that the river on the right emerging from behind the railing is the Tukituki. You may get the impression that the hill drops away very steeply almost 400 metres to the valley below.

A few seconds earlier she was quite a way below us

This steep drop makes it a very attractive venue for the paragliding community  who like to launch from the top of the hill. As we arrived there were four enthusiasts preparing to do exactly that. From here it may be imagined that the only way to go is down. It is not so. Within a few seconds of launching each of the pilots in turn was rising rapidly, and I could hear the rising and falling tone of their electronic variometers telling them when they were in lift or in descending air. I imagine that they were making good use of the wave lift over the hill, though the day was warm enough for there to be thermal activity as well. I was a bit surprised that the young woman in the picture was flying cross-legged. Anyway, there were soon a bunch of paragliders circling very high above us.

Pukeko on guard
The periodic raising and lowering of the “periscope” from different locations was comical to watch

In the afternoon while Mary was doing the family visit, I was turned loose in search of birds or other subjects of photographic interest. In all honesty I was not very successful yesterday. I saw fewer bird species than I have in the past, mainly black swans and shags. On the wetlands just South of the Napier airport, there were hundreds of black swans still guarding their grey fluffy offspring. A few ducks and gulls mingled but nothing that I regarded as a photograph. A squawking from the long grass on the other side of the track alerted me to the presence of some Pukeko or swamp hens (Porphyrio porphyrio). I think I must have been near a nest because there was a heightened degree of alarm, and every so often a red-tipped periscope would peer above the grass to see where I was.

I hoped it might have been the much rarer Cirl Bunting, but I am reasonably sure it is the yellow-hammer

Another close encounter was with a yellow-hammer (Emberiza citronella) which clung to a dried fennel stalk and eyed me warily.

Looking South to Hospital Hill from a deserted section of beach North of Westshore
Napier is a pretty city

From there I went out to Westshore, crossed the apparently disused Gisborne railway line, and from the pebble beach, looked back towards the city. It was a magnificent blue day, with just a few clouds.

Windswept grasses
These are beautiful to watch, though I gather they are unwanted invasive species

I am not sure what the temperature was, but there was a sufficient onshore wind to keep it pleasantly warm without going to extremes. Perhaps 26 degrees or so.  The wind was sufficient to induce a great deal of movement in the seed heads at the top of the beach.

Back home now, more tomorrow.