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Adventure adversity Architecture Birds Boggy Pond Family Hokio Beach Lower Hutt Otaki Plant life Rivers Waikanae Wairarapa Weather Wellington

December 28, 2021 … what lies ahead?

Another year reaches a conclusion, and what a year it has been for the world, and for our country, for my family and for me. Despite the fact that I try to live with hope in my heart, I look forward to 2022 with trepidation. On the personal front, I seem to crumbling at the edges. As well as the cataract, I have now been fitted with hearing aids, and hope to become accustomed to them. Then, following some sort of event that resulted in double vision, vertigo and nausea (unconnected with the cataract procedure), I ended up in hospital for a couple of nights undergoing a CT scan and MRI. No clear causes identified, but nothing sinister found. And thank heavens for free public health care which was superb for me. Nevertheless, with the vertigo and visual disturbances, my doctors say I am not permitted to drive for four weeks. Grrr.

Christmas has passed and family is scattered in Melbourne, Brisbane, Queenstown and Gisborne. Happily youngest son Anthony,, his wife Sarah and our lovely grandkids Maggie and Jack are at home nearby, so we spent some of our Christmas with them. OK, enough with the babble, what images did I get this round?

Black fronted dotterel

Fine days have been rare in recent times, so when one occurs, I select from one of my preferred locations. On this occasion , it was Hokio Beach (again). Since the whitebait season is ended, it was peaceful with no whitebaiters to deter the bird life. In fact, we had the beach entirely to ourselves. Mary went for a walk along the beach to the South while I lay back on the water’s edge and waited. In just a few minutes, I was blessed with a visit from one of my favourite birds, the black-fronted dotterel. These tiny creatures move very quickly and their legs are almost invisible in motion. They appear to hover across the sand and water. Just beautiful.

Also present at Hokio were the bar-tailed godwits, champions of long distance flight. They fly to tidal estuaries in New Zealand from Western Alaska in epic non-stop flights lasting 8 to 9 days. Barring the great albatrosses, they are the olympic athletes of the bird world. And they are handsome birds, aren’t they?

Feed me mama!

It was a great trip. Dotterels, godwits and even dabchicks. In this visit, the chicks have grown too big to be carried around on the parent’s back any longer. In fact they seem even bigger than the parents now, Nevertheless, they are still dependent on the parents for food. As always, the water in the Wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park is reasonably sheltered and echoes the deep green of the surrounding bush.

Californian Quail

On another damp but windless day, Mary drove me up to the regional waterworks at Kaitoke. I was delighted to spot a small cluster of female Californian quails browsing in the lawns there beside the road. The males are more spectacular, I suppose, but the females as seen here are beautiful in their own way.

Stick insect

Stick insects are always problematic for me. They are interesting but very hard to make an attractive image with. They seem to need a context, so in this case it was moving slowly among the flax and lavender at the back door. It’s the first time I have seen a stick insect with a face.

Gold

It drives me nuts that, every year, the mainstream media are surprised to discover the existence of Metrosideros excelsa aurea. Breathless headlines about “rare yellow pohutukawa” appear without regard that they used the same story last year and the one before that. To be fair, I probably make the same complaint about them each year too. The yellow variety is definitely less common than the more familia crimson variety, but I think they are far from rare. There are plenty of very fine yellow specimens in the Wellington region.

Coat of many colours

This little Hebe moth is, like many others quite spectacular when up close. Mary drew it to my attention on our stairwell, so I switched to my trusty macro lens and got really close. Do click on the image to see it in the larger version. It reminds me of some of the more spectacular weaving that I have seen, though I think it would be a talented weaver indeed who could produce work as beautiful as this.

Rata in the rain at Kaitoke

Like the pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) , the rata (Metrosideros robusta) is a member of the myrtle family and of the genus metrosideros. The flowers are, to my eye, indistinguishable from those of the pohutukawa. If you get close, the leaves of the pohutukawa are larger and a darker green, and have small hairs on the underside. Rata leaves are smaller, glossy on both sides and have a notch on the tip. A good friend alerted me to the spectacular colours of the rata trees in bloom in the rain up at Kaitoke. He was right.

Waterloo railway Station, Lower Hutt

Most people think of somewhere else when Waterloo Station is mentioned. Our local version would probably fit in the cafeteria of the other one. Nevertheless, it is a locally important interchange between the Upper Hutt/Wairarapa railway line and the Hutt Valley bus services. The wind-shelters in the station are an interesting and necessary feature. As I said before, I am not permitted to drive until early January so I decided to use public transport and roam around the region by train and bus for the day.

Wellington commuter traffic

On arrival at Wellington railway station, I made this image. It occurred to me that not much has changed since the first time I passed through here in February 1954. Well, there are no steam locomotives, and the electric units have advanced through two generations. And then there are the face masks, and the cell phones. And the women wear trousers and the men don’t wear hats. No-one is smoking. Apart from that, nothing much is different

Top deck

Part of my day wandering the region by public transport was to take a trip from the railway station to Island Bay by double-decker bus. Like the schoolboy I sometimes am, I grabbed the front row seat on the top deck, and enjoyed the different perspective from up there. A feature of the city at this time of year is the proliferation of pohutukawa trees in magnificent bloom. This specimen is about midway along Kent Terrace.

Back to the station

On my return from the Southern suburbs, I decided to take the train out to Upper Hutt and thence back to Petone Station from where I would catch a bus back up the hill to home. This was all for the pleasure of riding the rails and seeing our city from different points of view. I paused for a pizza lunch in the station before heading North. Since I wasn’t driving, a glass of Pinhead Supercharger IPA helped that go down.

Once was a high school

Through the train windowI was intrigued by the extent of the “Bob Scott Retirement Village”. This was built on the site which was once Hutt Valley Memorial College and before that Petone Technical College. In its latter days as it was rotting, graffitied and increasingly vandalised, it suffered an arson attack and was totally destroyed. It has taken several years but the retirement village that stands in its place is now complete. Despite its somewhat forbidding appearance, I know many people who enjoy living there, and liken it to living on a cruise liner. I am happy for them, but the lifestyle does not appeal to me.

A favourite corner

I am very blessed that Mary works so hard to compensate for my driving prohibition and she made a picnic lunch and drove us over the hill to Lake Wairarapa. We also visited Boggy Pond and had our lunch on the shores of Lake Onoke at Lake Ferry.

Time was when the trip over the hill was a long and arduous journey, especially with kids in the car. Now you wonder why it was such a big deal back then. Heck there was even a greasy spoon cafe at the summit to break the journey. Obviously the places have not got closer together, but modern cars are more powerful, more comfortable and more reliable. The journey from Te Marua to Featherston is a mere 25 minutes. My favourite spot is a corner just to the North of bridge number 6 where there is a bank of trees down a steep ridge. There is no footpath and no safe space to stop to get my desired view. This shot is not what I desired. I should have waited until we got to where that next car ahead is, but it will do as a grab shot. As a passenger I can stick the camera out the window and point it in the right direction.

That is my last blog post for the year. I hope the festive season treated you kindly and you all had a great time. For any who are locked down or constrained by Covid, my sympathies. I look forward to your company in 2022. I enjoyed a cartoon I saw (but can’t find) which depicts the occupiers of 2021 cowering behind a corner in a dark corridor, reaching out tentatively with a very long pole to nudge open the door to 2022. I would like to hope for a much better year than this has been for the world, and I wish all the very best for the new year to all those who share my journey in this blog. Thank you for being with me and for the kind words from so many of you.

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adversity Birds creativity Family Hokio Beach Lakes Landscapes Maritime Music Weather Wellington

December 31, 2020 … thank goodness that’s over

…. but who knows what 2021 will bring? It’s possible that we might look back on 2020 as “the good old days?”

Petone wharf with mist behind it

I remember August with fondness. It was mostly calm and sunny. However, December in Wellington has been mostly complete rubbish, with lots of rain and wind. Some days offered calm, but with mist or drizzle. I can live with that. This image was made at Petone wharf and as you can see, Matiu/Somes is almost obscured in the rain, and there is no sign at all of the Miramar peninsula.

Looking back

The same morning, I took a trip up Malvern road which runs up the side of the hill at the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge. It offers a fairly generous panorama over the Northern parts of the harbour. On this particular day, low cloud obscured the lower parts of the Hutt Valley and it offered a different view to the usual. .

Handel’s Messiah with the NZSO

Our daughter Lena and son-in-law Vasely generously took us to hear the NZSO with the Tudor Consort Choir performing Handel’s Messiah. No matter how many times I hear it it seems always new. The conductor, Gemma New encouraged the ancient tradition of all standing for the Hallelujah Chorus. The performance earned them a rarely given standing ovation from the capacity crowd in the Michael Fowler Centre. Of course I didn’t take my camera so this is a sneaky grab shot from my iPhone.

Minimalism

On one of the few fine days this month, I went to the wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park at Paekakariki in the hope of finding some interesting bird life. sadly, the birds had made other plans so I was out of luck. There was the sound of a million frogs, and though I was very close, I saw not one. I settled for the remnants of some rushes in the water.

Welcome Swallow

Despite the lack of water fowl, there were, as always, Welcome Swallows flitting about and performing impossible changes of direction in mid air as they gathered insects. They are fast and unpredictable so I was pleased when one sat on a branch near me.

Kota Lestari

Sunshine is nice, but it would be better without the Southerly wind. I was on the South coast when the Singapore registered container vessel Kota Lestari picked up her pilot. She has a gross registered tonnage of 41,578 and has the capacity to carry 4,300 twenty foot containers. She berthed soon after 3 pm and left just after midnight bound for Napier and then on to Hong Kong.

Canada Geese

Mostly I like all the Canadians I have met. I am less fond of their geese, despite their handsome appearance. They always seem to choose pathways as a place to deposit their calling cards. Even so, I enjoyed seeing this family at QEII park.

Thunder of wings

A favourite spot on a calm day is Hokio beach. It is just over 100 km to the North from home and is situated on the West Coast of the North Island, a little to South of Levin. The Hokio stream runs Westward from Lake Horowhenua and forms a beautiful estuary where it meets the Tasman Sea. There are seabirds aplenty most times, though my favourites, the black-fronted dotterels were missing. A large flock of black-backed gulls were basking in the sun when some idiot in a small SUV came racing towards them and instantly there was feathered chaos.

On Brooklyn Hill

Like many landscape photographers before me, I love conditions of mist or fog, though sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Driving up the hill from Aro Street to Brooklyn, conditions were clear, though overcast. Then from just above Brooklyn shops things got heavy. These misty pines are a few hundred metres up the hill towards the wind turbine. The turbine itself was scarcely visible even as I stood at its base.

Not monochrome

I hardly ever make monochrome images. Sometimes nature presents itself in black and white and then I am happy to capture it if I can. This view from the Titahi Bay road looks South towards Porirua City. It is an eight-image panoramic stitch.

Sparrows feeding

Mary was given a new bird-feeder that allows birds to sit on various perches around its base and access the seeds. They will empty that pile in about an hour, after which no matter how they sulk, they wait until tomorrow.

Red

I recall a respected photographer friend telling our camera club that any image containing a splash of red had a much better chance of favourable treatment. This little yacht in Evans Bay certainly grabs attention

So ends 2020. Though we have lamented its many downsides, we in New Zealand have come through it fairly well. Our covid-19 statistics are among the best, and even the impact on our country’s economy has been much less than was feared. Our biggest personal sadness is our inability to visit family in Brisbane and Melbourne, or indeed for them to come here. But they and we are well and we can talk to each other, so again things are less bad than they might have been.

I wish you all the warmest of wishes for 2021. May it be a kinder and better year than its predecessor. May all your hopes and dreams come true. See you next year perhaps?

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Adventure Animals Art Birds flowers Hokio Beach Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime mountains South Coast sunrise

June 18, 2020 …seize the day

“Up we go! Up we go!’ till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.” (Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows)

Like Mole, I feel I have emerged from the darkness and am enjoying the world with new eyes after the long weeks of lockdown. Even as I visit familiar haunts, I seem to see them differently now. Whether or not this results in new or better images is open for discussion. Either way, I am having fun.

Distand land under a grey sky

How many times, I wonder, have I shared an image of the Tararuas from our front lawn. From a photographer’s perspective each set of light conditions and cloud formations creates a scene different to the many times I have seen it before. The bones of the landscape are unchanged, but the season, the light and the weather add flesh to the view. I am always tempted by those receding layers of hills leading to the great South wall of the Tararuas.

Superb craftsmanship

I have recently made a friend in New Plymouth whose hobby and passion is carving wildfowl in wood to life-size. I know nothing about this hobby except that Wayne Herbert is a master of his craft. For various reasons, the bird he is entering into a global competition this year is in the possession of a near neighbour, so he asked me to make photographs of it. Yes, that beautiful tui really is made of wood.

Morning mist

River mist changes the character of the landscape. Most mornings it disperses fairly quickly and the day turns out well. The tower block in the background is the former TVNZ studios and office block at Avalon. It’s hard to figure out what it’s used for these days. The trees in the mid-ground are on the Boulcott golf course.

Premature symbols of spring

Folklore is fun, but often implausible. There is a fable to the effect that a sure sign of spring is when there are six daisies on the lawn that you can cover with your hand. Well here we are. But how can this be a sign of spring with the winter solstice still a a few days in the future? And why are there early jonquils in flower? I suspect spring may not actually come early, but our warming planet may show us things that, in previous times, were not seen until much later in the year.

Nature – the jeweller

The Japanese maple beside the path to our front door is now bare. The last living leaves have fallen and so begins the long wait for the new season. Or perhaps it won’t be such a long wait. A day of soft rain decorated the branches with sparkling droplets.

Hansa Freyburg departs for Nelson

Several viewpoints around the region afford a good view of the Kaikoura ranges. I was at the lookout at the top of the Wainuiomata Hill road and admiring the view of snow-tipped Tapuae-o-Uenuku when I noticed the container vessel Hansa Brandenburg and the pilot launch Te Haa emerging from the port. I had to wait a few minutes to catch it in front of the mountain. That peak is 2,885 metres high and 140 km from my standpoint.

Autumnal carpet

The flaming Autumn colour of our Japanese maples made a small but spectacular showing and then, in the space of a few days, the colour was all on the ground. Mary’s moss covered driftwood contrasts nicely with the various reds of the dying drying leaves.

Commuting

In Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” (which I have never seen or even read) there is a well-known monologue that outlines the seven ages of man. The words that always resonated with me were “And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school“. In the days when I still commuted to work, I loved to watch the people getting off the train or bus with expressionless faces trudging towards whatever new misery fate might deliver to them today. Rain or shine the expressions never changed as they trudged unwillingly to work. I was aiming to catch the reflection of the portico in the puddle, but I think the two pedestrians capture the day perfectly.

Petone foreshore

At the Western end of the Petone esplanade, is a park which is commonly used by people bringing their dogs for exercise. Its formal name is Honiana Te Puni Park though I doubt that many know it as such. It seems that the car park surface is far from horizontal, judging by the puddles that form after a little rain. I am always happy to find large still puddles as they present an opportunity for reflection shots and in this case a minimalist image. The bollards are there to prevent motorists driving across the narrow strip of grass and over the sea wall into the harbour.

Red

A Canadian photographic group that I joined proposed “Red” as the theme of the week. A strip of florist’s ribbon and a macro lens (just before it died) allowed my to produce this image. It might make more sense if you click on it to see the larger version. Or not. The lens has gone to the maker’s agent in Christchurch and is awaiting the arrival of a replacement barrel with the electronics. Ouch! $450.

A sea horse?

Some of the beaches on the West coast of the North Island are wild and lonely places characterised by black iron sand and lots of driftwood. The long smooth beaches are popular with drivers of off-road vehicles and the occasional equestrian. This picture was captured at Hokio Beach, a little to the South of Levin. There was a heavy swell and the sea was glittering in the afternoon sun. The young lady was clearly enjoying her time with the horse.

Sandra II

Sandra II has featured in many other shots, though usually at her mooring in the Hikoikoi reserve. I saw the two gentlemen preparing for their trip and then they cast off and headed out into the harbour. It seems to have a permanent list to port. It made me think of the old Picton ferry Tamahine (1925 – 1963) which also had a permanent list that gained her the nickname “Tilting Tam”

Deceptive weather

On the South coast near Island Bay, the sun was shining brightly and the sea state was quite moderate. However, the temperature was about 9°C and the spiteful Nor’Westerly wind was ripping the tops off the incoming waves. In the background, the lighthouse on Baring Head gleamed in the morning sun.

Dawn

Early mornings are not familiar territory for me. Nevertheless the rosy glow through the curtains caught my attention. This view from my bedroom window is to the North and the lights on the hills on the left are at the entrance to Stokes Valley. The dark patch in the right foreground is the Boulcott golf course with Naenae and Avalon beyond. Despite ancient warnings about red skies it was the first of several flawless days.

Lake Wairarapa at Featherston

Another lovely day and Mary and I decided to take a picnic lunch to the Southern Wairarapa. Flat calm conditions in Featherston led me to hope that the lake might present opportunities. We got off to a late start so I was pressing my luck. Nevertheless, at 11 am the water was still unruffled. I hung the camera inverted on the centre pole of the tripod and got it close to the surface of the water and looked to the South. A reader commented that she was accustomed to the lake seeming always brown and scruffy. Happily, a smooth surface reflects the colour of the sky above so we have a nice blue lake. I noticed with some regret that the two rows of rusting steel piles that were once a jetty for the yacht club had been removed.

Pole dweller

As we were pulling away from the lake, I saw this white-faced heron perched on the only surviving steel pile and reflecting nicely in the water below. I rolled the window down and shot this from the driver’s seat. There was no other traffic on the road.

I hope the new vision continues and look forward to seeing you next time/

Categories
Birds Evans Bay Geology Haywards Hill Hokio Beach Kapiti Island Landscapes mountains Pukerua Bay Reflections Rivers Sunset Waves Weather Wellington

June 7, 2019 … thanks for your many kindnesses

Since I last wrote, the region has had more than its fair share of wild and downright ugly days. If I were a depressive personality this would be getting me down. Happily, I can sometimes use the bad days to my advantage. And in any case, many of you have sent me kind and affirming messages which have been balm to my soul. Thank you to those kind people who take the trouble to send messages.

A month or so ago, WordPress changed their default editor, and I didn’t notice that images no longer provided a “click-to-enlarge”. I have corrected that as of this issue and may eventually get back to the issues that were affected. Please do click for a much bigger image

A Little shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) flying in close formation with its reflection at Pauatahanui

When I look up from my keyboard and notice that the trees outside are not moving, I check on the other side of the house for confirmation, and unless domestic courtesies require otherwise, head for the nearest body of water likely to deliver attractive reflections. On this occasion, I went to the Pauatahanui Inlet where the bright blue sky and the gold reeds provided a nice contrast with the Little Shag. “Little” is not a casual adjective here. That is the formal name of the species, as distinct from the Little Black, the Pied, the Spotted and about half a dozen more common types in New Zealand.

Reflections don’t always depend on still water. This architectural study is on The Terrace

Very occasionally I will turn my attention to the structure of the city. I have probably commented before that, for a seismically risky city, Wellington has a large number of buildings with glass curtain frontages. Leaving aside the question of what happens when the earth moves, these buildings present some nice reflections. In this case, the building at 155 the Terrace is reflected from a tower block down on Lambton Quay. I took care to line the framework as well as possible, and cropped and trimmed the last bit in the computer.

It takes sustained high wind to generate lenticular clouds of this magnitude

On the Haywards Hill one evening two weeks ago, I just had to pull over to the side of the road to catch this spectacular formation. I was on my way to act as judge for another camera club’s competition, otherwise I might have lingered longer to catch the brilliant orange colour which came with the setting sun. Dozens of my photographic friends produced stunning images of this event.

Pukerua Bay Lookout offers a fine view towards Kapiti and then a challenge to get back into the North-bound traffic

Mary and I were driving to Waikanae the next day to enjoy lunch with some friends of very long standing. Despite the clear blue sky and the glitter on the water, the thing that caused me to stop at the Pukerua Bay lookout was the impression of relentless power from the waves being driven in from the Tasman by that strong Nor’Wester. The other thing that lookout offers is the challenge of forcing your way back into the North-bound traffic.

Williwaws swirling up Evans Bay

The wind did not abate, and if anything it started to get serious. According to the TV news, it peaked at 121 km/h the next day. I went looking for waves, but found little of interest. That proves that I was not looking clearly because some of my friends produced some great wave shots. However, the wind coming into Evans Bay after its journey across the harbour produced some interesting effects. The swirling williwaws lifted their spouts a hundred metres or more from the surface, and I had to work hard to keep my lens dry. I loved the dark sky over the Western hills.

Downtown glassware

I know that modern architects work really hard to ensure that all the bits of the building remain attached even when the earth moves. Nevertheless, recent demolitions pursuant to the Kaikoura earthquake (14 November 2016) tend to suggest that there are some factors that even the best of them didn’t think of. I love the shapes, colours and textures of a modern cityscape. On the other hand I see hundreds of tonnes of sheeet glass seemingly just hanging on the outside of the building, and I imagine it falling as a huge guillotine. As long as the fixing methods perform as expected I am happy.

Wellingtons winds suck and blow North West then Southerly, most of the time.

If we are lucky, after we have endured a few days of sustained wind, we get a break for a day or two before it all comes roaring back in the other direction. I like the Southerlies for the spectacular waves they deliver on the coast between the harbour entrance and Owhiro Bay. Jagged rocks which are typical of our Southern shoreline help to break the incoming waves and sometimes create astonishing explosions of water. A technique advocated by one of my photographic idols is to be deliberate about the tonal relationships between various elements of the image. Notice the clarity of the rocks and the successive reduction in tonal intensity as we progress to the mountains across the strait.

Pied stilt – Pauatahanui Inlet

And just like that, the new day dawns still and golden. Mary recognises the signs and packs a lunch for me to take on my wandering. I know how lucky I am. Unlike the preceding image, this one presents a clear sharp day and a relatively short distance between near and far, so the tonal range need not be an issue. I really love the golden tones of the reeds at Pauatahanui and the comparison with the formal attire worn by the stilt/.

It has been a long time between kingfishers

One of my photographic friends tells me I lack the patience to be a real bird photographer. She is probably right, and she has it in abundance. On the other hand, I get lucky now and then. Just below the big tree that most of my birding friends know, I spotted this sacred kingfisher hovering for a moment before it dived. In my experience they rarely signal their intentions so I was lucky to have time to point the lens at the ring of water. A moment or so later and it emerged, but without the crab that I assume it was seeking. A real bird photographer would have been lined up before it hit the water and made a dozen images with the shutter set fast enough to freeze the wings. Even so, I like the image. The bird’s eye is sharp and much can be forgiven if you achieve that.

Mighty mountains across the strait

A few consecutive days of stillness are a joy. Not all still days are equal. As I headed to Lyall Bay, the weather was overcast and the light was flat. I drove around the coast towards Owhiro bay and got a suddenly clear view of the great peaks of the inland Kaikoura range. And there’s that tonal range problem again. The mountains were startling in their clarity considering that they are over 120 km distant. I hoped the cloud would clear itself from the peak of Tapuae-o-Uenuku but took the shot while it was there. The typically red rocks of Wellington’s South Coast provide a lovely foreground.

The only constant is change

Drizzle and streamers of mist are not necessarily a disaster in my opinion. I drove down the Wainuiomata coast road and back up again. These receding hills caught my eye. A friend said he wanted to cut along the dotted line. I suspect he is referring to the row of bee hives beneath the nearest tree.

Some real rarities

Another packed lunch day developed and I was motivated to go to Hokio beach on the West coast just South of Levin. To my great joy when I parked for lunch on the estuary of the Hokio Stream, I found a patch of relatively still water and there scurrying back and forth, were a lot of black-fronted dotterels. I love the dotterels for their delicate beauty and the black-fronted variety is especially attractive to my eye. In the picture above, the bird at the back is a banded dotterel which seems to a little bigger than its cousins. I counted ten of them all racing around pecking at some food source in the sand. They it worth the journey.

That’s sufficient till I gather more images. I hope you got some pleasure from my random wanderings and as always, if you have constructive criticism please let me know.

Categories
Adventure Animals Birds Dolphins East Harbour Regional Park flowers Hokio Beach insects Maritime Weather Wellington

February 13, 2019 … some gaps in the week

Since I last wrote, there have been at least three and maybe four days on which no meaningful photography occurred. I am unsure whether this is the result of, or the cause of, my somewhat flat state of mind. However, I learned first as a graduate student and later as the supervisor of other graduate students, that the cure to a creative block is to put your hands on the keyboard (or camera) and do something. No matter that the output is rubbish to begin with, at least you have a starting point for what will follow.  Something to improve on.

Straitsman
Straitsman heads purposefully towards her berth in downtown Wellington

A lovely hazy morning in Wellington caused the distant hills to fade in delicate shades. Then came the Straitsman, briskly rounding Pt Halswell. she is not a pretty vessel but she was close enough to avoid the haze,. I liked the way she stands out.

Dandelion
Taraxacum officinale … the common dandelion

A few rubbish days, as I mentioned, and I was not motivated to venture out. A dandelion seed was worth a look, though a million others have trodden that path before me. I used focus stacking. This means taking several images, each of which is focused on a point a little further back. I then merged the six images in Photoshop which selects the “in-focus” area from each image to produce the final image.

Sheep
Given the number of 27ºC days recently, these sheep were long overdue a shearing

Another pleasant morning and I decided to head down the Wainuiomata Coast Road where I encountered a flock of sheep in a pen, awaiting shearing by the look of those long fleeces. They kept a wary eye on me.

Baring Head
Wainuiomata River with Baring Head to the right

Down at the coast, I wandered along the bank of the Wainuiomata River where it curves towards Baring Head before twisting back to the sea. There was a nasty Northerly ruffling the water, but a long exposure settled that down for this image.

Dragonfly
Giant dragonfly (Uropetala caravei) at Forest Lakes

A little to the North of Otaki is a camping and conference centre called Forest Lakes. I have been there in the past as a parent supervisor on various school camps. I decided to try my luck and drove in to seek permission to photograph the lakes and landscape features if the camp was not currently occupied. I got lucky and had some fun. The lakes have a lot of greenery around them, various weeds and even some water lilies. These seem to attract the very large dragonflies. They are frustrating things to photograph as they have the ability to teleport. One second they are there, hovering, and suddenly they are elsewhere without having visibly flown the intervening distance. The challenge is to achieve focus before they move.

Dotterel
Black-fronted dotterel (Elsyomis melanops) … such a tiny delicate bird

From Forest Lakes, I went to Hokio Beach. It is a delightful but little known beach town just to the South of Levin. It seemed to be sheltered from the wind, so I started to eat my lunch when a small grey bird emerged from the reeds nearby. Lunch was dropped and a long lens was hastily mounted. Oh great joy! A beautiful little black-fronted dotterel  was picking its way delicately along the banks of the Hokio stream, probing the mud for food. The random feathers on the edge came from some other bird. The black-fronted dotterel is a self-introduced member of the plover family which from Australia in the 1950s and though its numbers are still small, it has done well enough to be classified as a native.*

Hokio Beach
Hokio Beach – shhhh … don’t tell anyone

The settlement at Hokio beach is small, with a population of about 200, most of whom seem to hope that the rest of country never find it. I share their sentiment and hope that the stillness of the place is kept for the few who live there (and me).  The Hokio stream winds its way through the grey sand out into the Tasman Sea.

Dolphins
Dolphins in Island Bay … fishing in the marine reserve

My last image of the week is purely a record shot with little photographic merit. Yesterday I was at Island Bay sitting in my car looking at a freighter idling off the South Coast when a passing pedestrian drew my attention to the pod of dolphins swimming about inside the barrier provided by Taputeranga Island. Their purposeful circling suggested that this was a fishing expedition and there was no playful leaping. Still I got several bunches of dorsal fins and estimate that the pod might have numbered 20 or more. Though I didn’t manage an artistic image. just being there with them was a delight.

* http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/black-fronted-dotterel

 

Categories
Adventure Architecture flowers Horowhenua Landscapes Light Pauatahanui Reflections Rivers sunrise Tararuas Vehicles Wairarapa Weather Wellington

August 8, 2018 … undirected wandering

As I was uploading the images for this edition, I wondered how much of my allocated space I had used, and how many images were there. It seems that, since I started this photo-blog manifestation of WYSIWYG on January 1, 2012, I have shared 6,579 images with you. That’s a little scary. However, here we are again with another 12 images.

Owhiro
Relative calm at Owhiro Bay

You may recall that we had a wonderful sunny summer. Winter has gone the other way, and I can’t recall such an extended period of greyness. Still, I try to find something even when it is grey so here we are in Owhiro Bay, looking in the direction of Kaikoura.

Lake
Magic conditions on Lake Wairarapa at the Northern end of the lake

One of those days that started out misty at home, led me over the hill to Lake Wairarapa where the conditions were just delightful. I am unsure why, but there is some charm in the contrast between rusting relics and perfect nature. This jetty was constructed in 1973. It has not lasted well.

Naenae
The morning sun sends its beams sliding down the hillside

There was even more mist the following day , leading to these long shafts of light echoing the slope of the hills in Naenae.

Convy
Rubber Duck: “looks like we got us a convoy …” (C.W. McCall)

I was lucky to be offered a seat in the lead vehicle of a club outing by the local off-road club, and we went up into the Tararuas near Levin to the Mangahao Hydro dams. It was a fantastic day.

Mangahao
National white water centre – Mangahao

 

At the Mangahao power station, which was the first, and for a long time the biggest generator in the country, I was astonished at the apparatus suspended over the river downstream from the station’s outflow. It seems that many of the world’s top slalom athletes choose to come here for their off-season training in various white-water sports.

Lowry Bay
Morning mist at Lowry Bay

More mist the next day and lovely still conditions on the harbour. Mist was wreathed over the Eastern hills and it was, to my eyes, beautiful.

Oil
Pt Howard oil terminal at Seaview

Even where there was no mist, the stillness itself was a delight.

tulips
Tulips

A really rough day brought about a change of pace, and the opportunity  to try out my newly acquired light box. Mary had some early season tulips so here we are.

Pauatahanui (1)
Pauatahanui Inlet looking Westward

The rough weather stepped aside for a while and I found some nice reflections on Pauatahanui Inlet

St Albans
St Alban’s is a much loved landmark in Pauatahanui village

When the water is really smooth like this, I like to invert the centre column of my tripod, and have the camera dangling inverted a few centimetres above the water. The tide was low and I walked across the gravel bed at Ration Point to take in the view back towards the historic St Alban’s Anglican church at Pauatahanui village.

 

Chapel
Chapel at the monastery of the Holy Archangels, Levin

Yesterday, I chose to retrace some of the area traversed by the off-roaders and went to Levin where I visited the Greek Orthodox monastery of the Holy Archangels. It is a delightful setting with a tint chapel and a retreat centre. I sought permission from the resident monk and explored it.

Interior
Chapel interior

The interior of the chapel was fascinating to my eyes, and the various icons were stunning.

Enough for this edition … oh good grief … I did everything but press the publish button so it has sat in draft for a week

 

 

 

Categories
Adventure adversity Architecture Birds Colonial Knob Cook Strait Foxton Beach fungi insects Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime Military Moon Petone Plant life Plimmerton Weather Wellington

June 26, 2018 … and still it goes

With a very few exceptions, in the last week or so, we have been experiencing Wellington’s version of winter. That translates as heavy overcast, strong wind, interspersed with rain or occasionally hail. We rarely get snow, but some of our worst days are chilling to the bone. And then there are the exceptions. So let’s see what happened since the last post.

terns
White fronted terns on parade, with a gull seconded to learn from them

You know it’s a rough day when you see the terns taking shelter. It was very unusual to see them lined up on the handrail of Petone Wharf with one red-billed gull intruding.

dog
The dog was having great fun ignoring all orders to hand over the stick

A day or so later, the wind died away, though the overcast persisted. Nevertheless, the day was sufficiently benign that people were out walking their dogs on Oriental Bay beach.

Hawea
HMNZS Hawea leaving port

While I was at Oriental Bay, a different shade of grey made its way into my field of view. The Inshore patrol vessel, HMNZS Hawea was visiting the city. Despite its ferocious military appearance, this is a typically New Zealand version of the military as the ship is unarmed except for hand-held weapons. It has neither missiles nor a main gun.

Stilt
Pied stilt juvenile at Pauatahanui

Then we had one of the exceptions, so Pauatahanui called me. A juvenile pied stilt is seen here stalking slowly around the pond looking for food.

Pauatahanui
A lovely morning on Pauatahanui Inlet

From a little further around the inlet, the reflections were very nice and Mt Rangituhi and Colonial Knob appear above and below Paremata.

Naenae
Winter fires in Naenae

The next day began well enough, but very cold with a deep frost making the roads icy. Across the valley, home fires added to the river mist drifting Southward from Naenae.

Hokio
Hokio Beach

A day later, Mary and I took a packed lunch and went up to the Foxton Beach area in search of birds or pleasant scenes. Unsuccessful up there, we arrived at Hokio Beach just South of Levin where the water was perfectly still. I turned to pick up my camera and the wind came in from the West destroying the perfection I had just glimpsed. We ate our lunch in the shelter of the sand dunes and went searching for some fragment to recover from the day. A small fishing boat being recovered was the best I could manage.

fungi
Tiny fungi – type unknown

Then the wind came back in earnest. I suggested to Mary that we visit Trelissick Park which follows the Kaiwharawhara  stream as it flows down the sheltered Ngaio Gorge. I was delighted to spy these tiny fungi, each smaller than the nail of my little finger. Note the two aphids on the rear-most fungus.

VUW
School of business – Wellington … I used to have an office on the fifth floor

Yesterday I was in the city to collect a replacement iPad, so while I was waiting, walked around Thorndon from a different direction. Here is Victoria’s Business School where I worked until 2012. They have added more office and teaching space in that addition to the left since I took my leave.

Rush
“Rush” hour at Ngauranga

Having collected the new iPad (that’s how Apple deal with defective batteries) I set out on the return home, and for the first time in a long while found myself entangled in the evening rush hour. Since my Apple repair people were in Thorndon, I followed the Hutt Road and rejoined SH2 at Ngauranga where everything ground to a halt. The moon was rising at about the same rate as the drivers’ blood pressure, but things cleared up and I got home to spend the next several hours restoring my iPad from the iCloud backup.

Kaitaki
Kaitaki on her way to Picton

This morning was threatening dire weather and from Houghton Bay I saw the ferry Kaitaki on its way to Picton crossing the Wairau Valley where there was snow on what I think is Mt Richmond.

Kaikouras
Inland and Seaward Kaikoura ranges with a good dusting of snow … as seen from Wellington

Is Winter here yet? The coating of snow on the Kaikoura Ranges would tend to support that idea. We are past the Winter Solstice and should be headed in the direction of longer warmer days, Spring and Summer, but I suspect we have t

Categories
Animals Aviation History Horowhenua Landscapes Machinery

February 8, 2015 … a day on the farm

Thanks to a friend the previous night, Mary and I spent much of yesterday on a farm a little North of Levin.

Caterpillar
Pull, bump, rumble. No electric starters here.

The Horowhenua Vintage Machinery Club were having their Harvest Weekend. It was a bit like an old-time Agricultural and Pastoral show without the fun fair. Don’t get me wrong, for those of us who love this stuff, it was enormous fun. It was a joy and a delight and I have struggled to keep the number of images down. I skipped over a genuine “Surrey with a fringe on top” and went to the heavy equipment. The man leaning over this 1926 Caterpillar tractor is starting it. He inserts a steel rod into a hole in the flywheel and gives a mighty heave. There is a bump, a cloud of smoke and she is rumbling away, ready to resume service. I hate to think of the consequences if that rod didn’t come free.

Fordsons
A celebration of Fordson tractors

The next group on the paddock was dedicated to a special anniversary for the Fordson tractors and it seems that you could have them in any colour as long as it was blue with orange trim. But if you look closely on the ridge above the man in the hat, there is a team of Clydesdales hauling a plough.

Clydesdales
Six might Clydesdales at work

Oh great glory, what a magnificent sight. Six mighty animals pulled that plough to create a furrow that was straight and true. There was a bit of trouble with the remains of the old oat crop getting tangled in the blades so there was a pause while the paddock was mowed.

Furrows
A 1919 Fordson creating beautiful furrows under the expert hand of a master of his craft

Meanwhile, one of the old Fordsons dating from 1919 was doing alternate ploughing runs. Its driver had obviously been doing this for many long years, and his furrows too were impressively straight.

Traction engines
Behind the lineup for the Concours, a Burrell and a Garret traction engine taking people for rides

My next moment of enchantment was seeing a pair of steam-powered traction engines trundling around the paddock at the top of the slope.

At the helm
At the wheel of the Garret, it is necessary to steer every inch of the way

I was privileged to be allowed to climb up into the driver’s seat of the Garrett, and with an expert beside me operating throttle and brake, I steered it on a circuit of the paddock. The steering is very low geared, and the chains that connect the steering wheel to the rigid front axle are a bit slack, so it was took a lot of turns of the handle to get where I was supposed to be. My admiration to the men who took eight hours to drive them on the public roads from Feilding to Levin.

Ag-cat
A modern visitor pays his respects

There was a top-dressing aircraft working nearby and its pilot decided to do a fly by. The stream of smoke is clearly a display gimmick since it is emitting from the turbine’s exhaust stack. In any event, this Grumman Ag-Cat is set up for spraying and it couldn’t drop a concentrated stream like that.

Tractor
1935 McCormick-Deering

In the main ring, each of the tractors was being introduced and welcomed by the master of ceremonies before it did a circuit for the admiring crowd. This lady is driving a 1935 McCormick-Deering W12 and is towing another period piece in the form of a potato planting machine.

Oil engine
Oil engine in full song

All around the perimeter were groups of displays of various equipment including some very old oil engines and devices for powering threshers or shearing equipment. A modern-day inspector of Occupational Safety and Health would have conniptions at all the ways you could lose a limb while working on these machines. Look at that flywheel spin.

Farmalls
… and in the red corner, the Farmalls

At the other end of the main paddock there was a great collection of red tractors, mostly the McCormick-Deering Farmalls. There were refreshments available, tea, coffee, and good old-fashioned farm scones. There were hobby displays and signs saying beware, men at play.  It was the most delightful day, with lovely friendly people who loved their association with the land, and with the machinery that worked it.

Tired but very happy.

Categories
Architecture flowers Foxton Beach Landscapes New Plymouth Sunset Taranaki

December 6, 2014 … ramblings from a road trip

Road trips for no reason are the best kind.

bales
An eyesore in a noble cause

 

With no real deadlines at either end we could make stops and diversions as we pleased on our journey to New Plymouth. Our first such diversion was to Foxton Beach where there are often interesting birds in the estuary. Alas the tide was very high and there was nothing of great interest on the remains of the sandbank. On our way out of town our eyes were assaulted by some bright plastic hay bales. What’s more we saw lots more of them in the Horowhenua and Manawatu districts. Ugh! They are hideous. It seems some well-intentioned baling contractor had the bright idea of getting the farmers to adopt the pink wrap instead of the customary green in return for a donation to research into breast cancer. Now I feel like the Grinch. But they are ugly.

Lavender
Lavender in Bulls

 

We paused for coffee in Bulls (which advertises itself as a town like no udder), and Mary bought some stuff at the Lavender shop. I have no interest in the lavender shots so I lined up on the lavender growing outside.

maize
I think it’s a maize crop, on dark soil.

 

I have always had a special place in my heart for the gentle rolling landscape between Bulls and Whanganui. There are always interesting textures and fascinating contrasts between neighbouring paddocks.

moving
I love the patterns in the landscape, even as we keep driving

 

At this time of year new season’s crops are emerging and since they are machine planted, they create some wonderful patterns. Despite our relaxed schedule, I didn’t want to keep stopping, so while Mary was driving, I would open the window and shoot on the move.

Taranaki
After hiding all day, there she is the mighty mountain

 

Soon we were in New Plymouth and in our rented holiday home. As the day neared its end the overcast we had experienced all day cleared away, so we went for a walk along the wonderful coastal walkway towards the Port. And suddenly, from a particular viewpoint on the coast, there was a clear view between city buildings straight towards the mighty mountain, Taranaki. The shroud that had obscured it all day parted and left the summit in the late afternoon sun.

New Plymouth
The foreshore and port of New Plymouth at Sunset

 

As we walked back to our lodging, I enjoyed the view behind us of Paritutu and the port.

More tomorrow

 

Categories
Animals Birds Foxton Beach Horowhenua Palmerston North

March 24, 2014 … a two horsepower journey to see the birds

The deferred plan mentioned in the previous post came to pass yesterday.

horse-drawn tram
The tram operates from 10 am to 4 pm most Sundays

Mary had planned a picnic and asked where might be suitable (photography was allowed). I had chosen Foxton Beach, in the hope that some godwits might be still present before their long trek to Siberia. A pause in Foxton township gave us the opportunity to take a ride on the horse-drawn tram. Two big  Clydesdales hauled the rubber tyred tram along at a brisk clip around a surprisingly long circuit and I have to say that it was a pleasant experience.

Out on the mud
Dedicated “twitchers”

Down at the sandbar near the river mouth, there were indeed godwits, though they were a considerable distance away across an expanse of very sticky mud. There were others interested in their presence, and a pair of “twitchers” were out on the mud with their big tripod-mounted spotting scopes. They told me when they came back that they had counted thirty-seven of them. I never really got close to the godwits, since I was reluctant to disturb them by getting that far out on the mud.

Banded dotterels
There is something very appealing about such tiny fragile birds

However, to my surprise and delight, there were lots of banded dotterels (Charadrius bicinctus) sitting on the sandbank, quite close to me. They were quite tolerant of me as long as I moved slowly, and not too obviously in their direction. These birds are extremely vulnerable to all kinds of threat since they choose to nest on open sand with nothing more than a little scraping in the beach for shelter.

Dotterel
The legs do move but they seem to glide across the beach

The some birds hop, some walk, the dotterel seems to have no visible means of movement and seems to glide across the beach like a small hovercraft. Their tiny legs move very quickly and it is hard to do them justice.

Dust
Farmers are starting to talk about drought relief.

After lunch, when the tide had come in and inundated the areas we were watching we headed across the Manawatu plains to Shannon and then North to Palmerston North. The land was very dry, with a great deal of sun-bleached grass and in some cases a lot of dust.

Australian coots
It’s hard to imagine that the chick will one day look like its mother.

At the Hokowhitu lagoon, there were signs of seasonal confusion. Some Muscovy ducks were trailing a small team of tiny fluffy ducklings, and this one of a pair of Australian Coot chicks (Fulica atra). The chicks are spectacularly ugly, though as always, a mother’s love is blind.

That was the day.