adversity Architecture Camborne Landscapes Plimmerton Trees

November 9, 2015 … limping along

According to my calculations, I have 51 more editions of the daily blog to go.

A tree with some Halloween character

On some days, I wonder if I shall make it. I have no intention of not making it, but on the drab days I am less than happy with the outcome. Nothing of great interest appeared before me in what I regarded as a particularly drab day. My first image is from a vacant industrial lot at the North end of Plimmerton.  It just struck me as a character tree.

Farmland over the fence from suburbia

At the top of Camborne, on the north side of Grays Rd, there is an expansive view across the remaining pastoral land in the area. This is an eight-image panoramic stitch, and you can see SH1 snaking up the hill towards the Whenua  Tapu cemetery on the left.

This shed has spent a year on death row

Then at Judgeford, on the way home, there was the old farm shed that I asked permission to photograph last Christmas. The owner was going to knock it down the next day, but it stands there still.

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

Birds Plimmerton Porirua Waves Weather Whitireia Park

June 13, 2015 … wild winds and fluffy bundles

I enjoyed a light lunch with a friend yesterday.

Welcome swallow , behaving more like a fantail, flitting about but staying close.

We met in a small cafe near his home in Whitby up on the hills overlooking the Pauatahanui inlet. Whitby town centre has a pair of ornamental lakes, so after lunch, we walked around the lower lake, having first taken care to wrap up well against the gale-force wind that was coming in from the North West. For such a  small man-made lake there was a plenty of bird life including shags, mallard ducks, Australian coots, and Welcome swallows. My first shot from here is of a small fluffy Welcome swallow. These are normally sleek, fast, agile and very wary of humans. This one was plump, slow and quite friendly. I suspect it was a juvenile, sheltering at the Northern end of the lake because the wind out in the open was just overpowering. Never before have I had one sit so still and so close for a portrait.

Smart mallards choose a place where the guns can’t get them

A handsome pair of mallards swam on the ruffled surface, no doubt taking advantage of the immunity from the duck hunting season granted by the proximity to people. The duck season ends this weekend at least for mallards and shovelers.

That rock on the left is the tip of Whitireia Park at the entrance to Porirua Harbour. They were fairly solid waves

After we parted company I went down to the Plimmerton fire station because I had heard rumours of black-fronted terns in the neighbourhood. I didn’t see any, but the force of the gale blowing in from the Tasman was impressive.

Pied stilts take shelter near the road. I took this through the open window of the car (while parked).


Homeward bound, via Gray’s Road around the Northern side of the inlet, I found a cluster of pied stilts huddled close to the road, sheltering from the buffeting of the wind.

That’s all for now.

Architecture Art Birds Pauatahanui Plimmerton Weather

October 17, 2014 … remembering and wandering

Every so often, I have lunch with some former colleagues and friends from my days at the New Zealand Dairy Board.

Mahatma Gandhi at Wellington railway Station

Yesterday I was the coordinator, and had selected the cafe at Zealandia as the venue, but since two were coming into town from the Kapiti Coast, I met them at Wellington Station. This gave me the opportunity to wander the station precinct while I waited for their train. In front of the station there is a statue of Mahatma Gandhi and it was catching light in an interesting way.

Three Bridge brothers off to war a hundred years ago

Inside the main entrance to the station I found one of the many life-sized photographs of people who left Wellington a hundred years ago to be part of World War I. In this case, the soldier of record was Sgt Hugh Decimus Bridge. Sgt Bridge was the youngest of ten sons, hence his middle name. He is pictured here with two of his brothers who also enlisted.  Images such as this of men and women who went away a century ago are all around the city at present.

Juvenile red-billed gull

In the afternoon I was at Plimmerton hoping to see dotterels or other interesting shorebirds. What I got was a gull, At first I thought I had found the comparatively rare black-billed gull, but on inspection I am now convinced it is merely a juvenile red-billed gull.

White-fronted terns

A pair of white-fronted terns on a rock just offshore were small compensation.

Patience is required when the ‘bait aren’t running.

On the final part of the journey home, I went through Pauatahanui and spotted a pair of whitebaiters, standing more in hope than expectation. Some years there are great yields of the tiny delicacy. I think this is not one of them.

Enough for now.

Birds Landscapes Pauatahanui Plimmerton Railway Weather

July 4, 2014 … tar and feathers*

Sunshine made yesterday more interesting.

On the sandbank
White-faced herons with a Caspian Tern

The temperature wasn’t high, but the day looked good. I hoped for kingfishers, but saw them only at a distance. I did have some other luck though. A little sandbank near a creek mouth on the Pauatahanui Inlet had a congregation of white-faced herons in their breeding plumage. The odd one out was the Caspian tern.

Terns at Plimmerton

No shore plovers at Plimmerton, but there was a flock of white-fronted terns on the rocks near the fire station. There seemed to be some activity with adults feeding youngsters.

White-fronted tern in flight

Whether en masse or singly I find all the terns to be wonderfully graceful birds, beautifully proportioned and superbly athletic in the air.

The front of a long train heading towards Pukerua Bay

The blast of a locomotive horn and the sound of crossing bells at Plimmerton drew my attention to a freight train heading at full throttle towards the bank up to Pukerua Bay.

Upstream view
The weir on the Hutt River. A commuter train crosses the Silverstream Bridge. Snow on the Tararuas

The first train reminded me of an intention I had of catching a long view of the weir across the Hutt River with the Silverstream rail bridge in the background. I was happy to achieve that with a train on the bridge, and the snow-dusted high peaks of the Tararuas as a backdrop.

Time to shut down for the day.

* I lied about the tar, but there were feathers


Birds Hutt River Plimmerton Rivers

June 27, 2014 … a fisherman’s tale and I swear it’s true

Another slightly lacklustre day.

Hutt River weir flowing briskly

Perhaps the recent rain had made the flow over the Hutt River weir more spectacular. When I got there, I decided I had missed the best, because the road down to the riverbed had been seriously undercut by recent water flow. There is now a big step down from the sealed ramp to the actual river shingle. Nevertheless the water was flowing fast and dark.

Weir 2
Near eye level along the weir No visible sign of that trout but I saw it very clearly

I decided to scramble up the dry portion of the weir … a strip less than a metre wide near the river bank, and to look for a shot along the top part of the weir. While I was making this thirty-second exposure, before my very eyes, I saw a good-sized trout slither up the slope. Its back and dorsal spines were well clear of the water and its tail was threshing like an outboard motor. Sadly, the length of this exposure means it left no trace on the image.

Shore plovers
Shore plovers in partial concealment

Out at Plimmerton, those rascally shore plovers were lined up perfectly still, lurking behind a ridge. There are normally six so I hope we haven’t lost one. I took this shot from the car window. Eventually they began to scurry about again, but I decided not to push my luck or add further stress.

Little black shags
Vikings parade before the next raid? Little black shags.

I took the road home on the southern side of the inlet, and spotted this military formation of Little Black Shags . I am intrigued to know what the social purpose is of such a formation. I know that  they gather fish as a community, but this disciplined gathering is very interesting.

That’s all for now.

Birds Plimmerton

June 26, 2014 … just one topic

Single-mindedness can be a virtue.


I am not so sure about yesterday. At Plimmerton, the shore plovers were there again, despite the ugly weather. To be honest I got little else yesterday, so I’ll offer a few shots of the plovers and call it quits for the day. I get excited about these because they are reputedly among the rarest of the dotterel family in New Zealand, and perhaps in the world. The ones at Plimmerton are about to be captured and relocated to the bird sanctuary at Mt Bruce, to protect them from predation.


Four or five birds were scurrying about, and like the other dotterels, they do quite a good job of choosing rocky environments in which they hide quite well.


One of them made a short flight as I watched, though I was not quite onto it in terms of focus and framing.


One of the birds found some food … hard to tell exactly what, perhaps a small fish, but it disappeared quickly.

That’s all for today


Birds Pauatahanui Plimmerton

June 19, 2014 … some visitors, medium rare

My photographic day began, as it often does, at Pauatahanui.

Five of the eight watching intently for crabs

There were at least eight kingfishers in the neighbourhood, and I managed to catch five of them in one tree. The tide was full and the crabs were obviously a bit careless or failed to realise that their buddies were disappearing one by one.

Emerging triumphant, the kingfisher has a crab

My favourite approach to kingfishers is from the water level, or as near as possible to it. Sometimes this can be uncomfortable, especially if the tide has just receded and sitting on the beach results in a wet posterior. Nevertheless, I got low yesterday and was rewarded with this shot of a kingfisher bursting into flight after diving for a crab.

Red-billed gull, white-fronted tern, pied oystercatcher and shore plover all in one place.

From there, I went to Plimmerton and found bird heaven. There were white-fronted terns, oystercatchers, and glory of glories, the rare shore plover. They are a pretty little bird, and I believe the local population nest on Mana Island, but come in to Plimmerton to forage for food.

Shore plover
Shore plover wading … they are very rare, much studied and most of them are ringed

And that’s all I have to say today.

Birds Pauatahanui Plimmerton Weather

June 11, 2014 … a happy bird-day

We still have a copious supply of weather.

fishing expedition
Little black shags gather with a common purpose

Most of it is rubbish, but nature is still out there, rain or shine. I began looking at Pauatahanui. An unusual formation of birds lined up along one of the channels near the village required a closer look. The long lens revealed them to be a flock of little black shags. As far as I know the little blacks are the only shags that engage in collective behaviour and hunt fish as a pack.

Royal spoonbills engage in an afternoon nap

At Motukaraka point, seven Royal Spoonbills ignored the light drizzle and had their siesta on a sandbank.  They were a fair way out so it’s a significantly cropped image.

Kingfisher not taking the hunt for food seriously

Near the Western end of the inlet, just before the road climbs up to Cambourne, a kingfisher was sitting on the mud. Usually they seek a high point from which to spot food. Perhaps it wasn’t hungry.

Shore plover
Shore plover at Plimmerton

At Plimmerton, the climax of my day was the discovery of a very rare shore plover (Thinornis novaeseelandiae). This female was on her own and seemed to arouse some excitement among my fellow bird lovers because it is as yet, unbanded.

An unpromising day ended well.

adversity Birds Hutt River Plimmerton Rivers Weather

May 5, 2014 … damp grey days

I seem to be living the last chapter of the Lord of the Rings.

White-fronted tern returning to the flock

If memory serves,it was all about the Grey Havens and preparation for the trip to Valinor. The Wellington region has had a surfeit of greyness in the last week or so. Nevertheless I went out in search of possible photographs. At Plimmerton, where a friend had recently seen the rare shore plover, I found nothing but some gulls, and on an offshore rock, a small flock of white-fronted terns. Without my long lens, I am still handicapped, but this tern joining the group looked nice.

Kingfishers in the distance
Still waters at Pauatahanui


Back at Motukaraka Point in the Pauatahanui inlet, I saw kingfishers aplenty, but just could not get close enough for real bird work with the borrowed lens. Nevertheless it’s a very nice lens and reverting occasionally to the broader view is OK. There are two kingfishers in this image and there were another three in the tree over my head. As always, if you click on this or any other image you will see a larger version.

Pauatahanui safe haven
Windsurfers in training

The inlet is also popular with windsurfers, though I suspect that this is the nursery school … the waters are shallow and mostly sheltered. The sail colours were irresistible, despite the steady drizzle adding yet more greyness to the scene.

Channelled stream and graffiti


Wellington is a very hilly region, and with our climate that means there are many streams. Increasing population density means that many of the smaller streams have been tamed, and now run beneath roads and houses in concrete channels and they see the light of day when they emerge to join the Hutt River or enter the harbour. This one comes down from the hills near Kelson, passes under the motorway at Belmont, and emerges near the Belmont school to flow into the Hutt River just below the Kennedy-Good Bridge.  The graffiti is extensive and colourful, and must have cost its perpetrators many cans of spray paint. The location means it will never have a large audience.

Hutt River
Hutt River at the Kennedy-Good Bridge

I went up onto the Kennedy-Good Bridge and took this slow shot looking North up the Hutt River. I think th South facing shot would be nice, but it’s a busy bridge with no safe place to stand on that side.

The weather outside is grey and windy.


Architecture Plimmerton

October 21, 2013 … stands the church clock at ten to three?*

A travel photographer’s advice I just read was “practise at home”.

Yesterday was a back-to-earth day after returning from our trip to Rotorua, Whakatane, National Park, Horopito and Foxton Beach. With no strange and exotic places to visit I wandered around my own region. I conclude that wind, unless it is of spectacular force, is generally unhelpful for photography.

The town clock in the Naenae shopping centre
Sadly the non-functioning clock is just one of the problems for Naenae …. empty shops don’t inspire confidence

At Naenae, there was a sheltered place and a patch of sunshine on the clock tower which, like Rupert Brooke’s famous church tower, is frozen in time. Both clocks are right twice a a day.

Impression of Mana
Strong wind but some sunshine

I found nothing useful at Pauatahanui, and moved on to Plimmerton where Dotterels may sometimes be found. I was about to conclude that there was nothing useful there either, when it occurred to me to take the variable density filter out and see what I might get with that. Mana Island is out there on the horizon with the tip of Whitireia Park to the left. The jagged rocks in the foreground are where the dotterels are sometimes seen. This is a very long slow exposure to flatten the water and I had to apply strong downward pressure on the tripod to stop the camera bouncing in the wind. (Note to self … I must get a sandbag to hang off the centrepost for stability)

The Hutt River at Taita Gorge
River levels high

When you have a hammer, they say, everything looks like a nail. Having got the ND filter out I went in search of running water, and ended up on the side of the Hutt River near Stokes Valley looking North towards the gorge.

Ho hum. Perhaps today will produce a different idea.

*“The Old Vicarage, Grantchester” by Rupert Brooke