Birds flowers Kapiti Coast Landscapes Otaki Weather

February 8, 2014 … up the coast

Yesterday’s journey was to Otaki Beach.

Paradise Shelducks and Royal Spoonbill
Soon after I arrived, they all went to the far side

Otaki is a small coastal town at the North end of the Kapiti district. It is characterised by the strong presence of the Ngāti Raukawa iwi, the beautiful restoration of Te Rauparaha’s church at Rangiātea, and the regional Māori university, Te Wananga o Raukawa. It is further blessed or blighted, depending on your viewpoint, by a surfeit of “outlet stores” with resultant traffic nightmares. Otherwise it’s a relaxed sort of place with way too many eateries of the sort that give dieticians sleepless nights. But I was there in search of birdlife. When I photographed a wedding a few weeks back, I saw a lagoon near the mouth of the Otaki River and thought it might be worth another visit.

When I arrived there were water fowl on every part of the lagoon. They were undisturbed by the car, but the moment I opened the door there was pandemonium. Squawking and flapping they took to the air and headed to the far side of the water leaving little but spray and a few feathers. Confident that they would return, I set up my hide and sat inside with my camera and my iPad. I spent a couple of pleasant hours there, sheltered from the chill Southerly breeze,  enjoying their tentative repopulation of the lagoon. When things got a bit slow I used my iPad to watch the astonishing events unfolding on Eden Park as the New Zealand cricket team made some amazing scores playing the world champions, India.

Black swans
A low pass but they didn’t stop


To be honest, the variety of birds was less than I hoped, and though there were some interesting individuals, the space is dominated by the Paradise Shelduck (Tadorna variegata). They are fine looking birds, but I have difficulty doing anything useful with a large flock of them. A pair of passing black swans gave a different target.

Australasian harrier
There were a few fledglings in the long grass, and the harrier dropped in for lunch

And then, there was the Australasian Harrier (Circus approximans) cruising low and slow looking for helpless fledglings or other easy prey. I prefer to see them seeking live prey as they are becoming reliant on road-kill at the risk of suffering the same fate themselves.

Wind off the sea

Did I mention the Southerly? When the cricketers stopped play for lunch, I packed up and went back towards the Otaki township in search of food for myself, and on the way, paused to capture these wind-blown Toetoe (Austroderia fulvida).

Kapiti coast
From the lookout near the top pf the Paekakariki Hill

Coming back to Wellington, I rarely take the scenic route over the Paekakariki Hill, on account of its narrow twisting road that takes the pleasure out of the journey. It does offer some spectacular views, though very few places from which to safely enjoy them. I had noticed a dark front coming in from the South and thought there might be something to see. I got a few shots of the advancing clouds, but my last shot today results from swinging back to the North for a view up the curve of the coast to Paraparaumu and the South Taranaki Bight in the distance. Already the mist is starting to gather around Kapiti Island.

Rain today will be a challenge.