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

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

 

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.