At first there was nothing useful. The Okowai Lagoon near Porirua is disgracefully polluted, five years after work to rehabilitate them was reported to have started. I have all but given up on finding birds there. As we walked back up the hill, I snatched a shot of the purple ragwort flower which infests Wellington’s hills at this time of year. I use the word “infests” advisedly since it is an invasive pest of South African origin that displaces the native plants.
Up at the Camborne Water tower, there was a nice view towards the late afternoon sun coming down over Mana Island and Whitireia Park.
Nothing useful revealed itself as we went through Pauatahanui and I had given up hope by the time we reached Lower Hutt. However, I glimpsed a lovely reflection from the Hutt River as we traversed Block Road. A long exposure aided by a neutral density filter gave me this picture which I thin is the best of my day.
Pauatahanui was the chosen locality yesterday, but the weather was unkind and the birds uncooperative. I decided to try a shot that might express the overall character of the area, Across the salt water grasses are the ponds where so many of my favourite birds browse, On the left, the drab green structure is the bird hide.
I abandoned Pauatahanui and tried Plimmerton instead. Nothing much happening at first sight, but I liked those clouds behind the yachts.
The yachts then drew my eye to Mana Island and again the clouds added to the scene, as did the striations in the rocks on the foreshore at Plimmerton.
From there I went home via the Paremata-Haywards Road (SH58). Gleaming reflections in Ivey Bay seemed interesting. As an exercise in single themed purposeful photography it was a failure, but that’s how the cookie crumbled yesterday.
Our camera club has a number of special interest groups, and the one specialises in landscapes is particularly active. Yesterday the group chartered a boat and twenty-seven of us went from Paremata across to Mana Island.
Most Wellingtonians are familiar with the flat-topped island offshore from Whitireia Park at Titahi Bay. It looks steep-sided but unremarkable. There are indeed some steep walls up to the plateau and I was breathing quite hard as we climbed. I was happy to take a few moments to construct a panorama on the way up.
Mana is not as large, nor as well covered with bush nor does it have quite the biodiversity of the larger Island, Kapiti, to the North. Unlike Kapiti, there is sufficient flat land on Mana that it was farmed for many years. It is in very recent years that it has been designated a predator-free reserve, and there has been a determined programme to re-establish native bush and to provide safe habitat for many endangered birds, skinks and geckos.
To the South the two wind farms, Mill Creek and West Wind can be seen clearly, though the day was so calm that the distant blades were just ticking over.
Of course, I mentioned birds, and there is considerable variety on the island, including whiteheads, tui, fairy prions, yellow-crested kakariki, tui, robins and a variety of seabirds. But best of all, the “back from extinction but still critically endangered” Takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri) is breeding on the island. There are now about 275 in the world. It is the largest living member of the rail family, and it weighs in at up to 4.2 kg. It is flightless, so on an island this small there is a good chance of encountering one.
We followed the outermost and longest of the several trails on the island for a total of over 7 km and arrived under clear skies and a hot sun back at the shoreline in plenty of time for the boat. To our great delight, some of us saw a takahe chick with its mother.
By now the sun was really heating us up so we clung to the shade but some of us got excited when we saw the tips of the wings of some quite large sting-rays cruising by at the water’s edge.