Birds Hutt River Landscapes Light Moon Otari Petone Wellington

September 30, 2012 … feathers, fluff and ferns

Exercise is the thing.

Serious, sustained strenuous exercise has been conspicuously absent from my daily agenda for a while, and this folly is beginning to bite. My bathroom scales have no sense of diplomacy. They don’t soften the blow. They tell the plain, unvarnished truth. OK. Back on the weight wagon.

Mary points out that any walk with the camera is never fast enough to deliver the desired benefits, so she says leave your camera behind, we’re off for a walk. And so we did. From Te Papa in Cable St., along the waterfront to Oriental Parade, and around Pt Jerningham to Balaena Bay and back. There was a fairly stiff Southerly which was uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Back at the car, a quick wipe down, and then off to Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wilton.

Unlike Zealandia, the Otari Plant Museum and its surrounding park is owned by the City of Wellington, and admission is free. As well as the internationally respected activities of the plant museum which is solely devoted to native plants, there is a picnic area, and 100 hectares (250 acres) of native bush.  We ate our lunch at one of the tables on the Troup picnic area, and as we sat facing the green wall of bush to the West, Mary heard something overhead. New Zealand Falcon in the wildWith my camera to hand, I pointed it skyward and was delighted to capture a New Zealand Falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae), or karearea.

It was at extreme range so it’s not a great image, but Debbie Stewart, director and founder of the Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre in Rotorua identifies it as a wild juvenile female. Other comment suggests that it is a fledgling from the pair that hatched their eggs in Zealandia a year ago.

Hedge sparrow

In the bushes in front of us as we ate, hedge sparrows were preening, probably under the foolish illusion that they were unseen.

After lunch, perhaps too soon after lunch, we embarked on the “blue trail”, one of the many loop walks from among the 11 km of trails in the park. Needless to say, it was steep, with hundreds of steps, and as a consequence of recent rain, quite a lot of slippery mud patches on the trail. This trail takes you past a Rimu (a native evergreen conifer, Dacrydium cupressinum) estimated to be about 800 years old.  We got to the top of the track where it joins the Skyline walkway, along the ridges until it meets Mt Kaukau, but chose to descend. I am glad we took the path we did, because this descent was steep and treacherous, and might have been demoralizing going up it.  We exited the park via the low level circular route and drove home.

However, by the time I got to the computer, there was not much “in the can” that I was happy with. So, in the hour or so before dinner, in lovely evening light conditions I went out to see what was happening down at the estuary.

Mallard duck with eleven ducklings

One of my grievances with respect to photography discussions on Facebook is the surfeit of saccharine “cuteness”. Bleah! Yet I keep seeing these things that I know my granddaughters will love.  There on the little sheltered inlet by the boat sheds was a Mallard duck with no fewer than eleven little balls of fluff paddling furiously to keep up with mother. I got very close to them and the light was nice, so at the risk of adding to the sugar levels, here they are.Five of eleven

And then, in case the ducklings didn’t work out I went to Petone wharf, with the idea of catching a long view of the city in the last light of day.  City at sunset

I took my shot(s), and as I packed up the tripod, I turned around and saw that I had just missed the best moments of the moonrise behind the Fitzherbert transmitter on the Eastern Hills.

Moonrise over Fitzherbert

Aaaaagh! How could I forget that basic rule of looking behind you?