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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.



Architecture Birds Cook Strait East Harbour Regional Park Landscapes Maritime Weather

October 29, 2012 … skylarking about on Baring Head

“Clearing in the afternoon”, said the weather forecaster.

As we drove down the Wainuiomata Coast road to the entrance to our planned walk, the lowering clouds overhead threatened to make a liar of him. However we stopped in the car park at the entrance to the Baring Head section of the East Harbour Regional park. With two cameras on their slings and a tripod strapped to my back, and with Mary carrying our drinking water in her backpack, we crossed the Wainuiomata River and began the sharp climb up over the ridge. It’s fairly steep, but reasonably well-formed, and very quickly offered scenic views back up the valley, as well as a welcome excuse to pause and gather much-needed oxygen.Pencarrow Station on the Wainuiomata Coast Road side of the hill.

A mountain biker using his lowest “granny gear” climbed smoothly past us, but not very much faster than we were walking. His two companions were defeated by the grade and walked up behind us, pushing their bikes.

The lower Pencarrow LighthouseBeyond the crest, we saw views of Wellington that I had not seen before.  A little to the North of us the lower Pencarrow Lighthouse was visible, and across the water, behind it, Breaker Bay Rd climbs up towards the Pass of Branda.

Clouds were still there, grey and heavy, but places where the light broke through to illuminate stretches of water promised some possible landscape opportunities later. The road turned South and followed the curve of Fitzroy Bay below, taking us through steep open farmland. Sheep were grazing happily, but scuttled away as we approached. Across the Strait, the Interisland ferry Aratere emerged from the haze near Tory Channel and before long, was below us,  turning towards the harbour mouth.

Skylark (Alauda arvensis) in songSkylarks were a constant accompaniment to our walk. They pop up from their hiding place in the long grass and circle rapidly, singing joyfully as they gain height. They are hard to photograph at the best of times, since they move quickly, and are usually high above. In this steep hilly place they were sometimes low enough to capture on the camera, though a big crop was still needed to deliver a usable image.

At Baring Head, which is about one third of the way around the circuit if travelling anticlockwise, we paused while I set up the tripod for a landscape shot (I took several, but one will suffice here). Click to enlarge.Wellington's South Coast from Baring Head

The lighthouse itself is, like all other lighthouses in New Zealand fully automated, and the cottages where the keepers once lived are boarded up and neglected. Baring Head Light

On the way back to our start point, we watched the police launch, Lady Elizabeth IV, come growling up to inspect a small pleasure boat from which people were fishing. They usually inspect any fish caught to ensure that they are of legal size, and not in excess of the allowable numbers caught.  Police on fisheries patrol

Coming down the steep path which we had laboured up earlier, a young fly-fisherman, in hope of catching river trout caught my eye.

Trout fishing in the Wainuiomata RiverIf you are in the region with at least three hours to spare, and a good weather forecast, take some drinking water with you and explore this striking landscape.

I shall be back.