30 November 2008

French Pass beach boulder

Boulder at French Pass, Admiralty Bay
I don't know the geological term for the rock at French Pass, but much seems halfway between clay and the real thing: soft and easily erodible but still solid enough to form distinct boulders. The small settlement of French Pass sits on the shores of Admiralty Bay in the Marlborough Sounds, the north-eastern corner of the South Island.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

29 November 2008

Tibetan wolf

Tibetan wolf at Naini Tal zoo
Several wolves occupied a small cage at the Naini Tal zoo.

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28 November 2008

Camo cat on carpet

Jimmy asleep on carpet
They assume (correctly) one will notice them and avoid stepping on them, even when they're asleep and almost invisible on the most-used area of kitchen floor. [Jimmy a.k.a. Tigger; 23 November 2008]

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27 November 2008

Nor'west storm over Lake Pukaki

Nor'west storm over Lake Pukaki
When the Southern Alps look like this, stay indoors. Read a book or admire the wildness from somewhere snug and safe. Whatever you do, don't attempt to cross rivers.
The road to Mt Cook village follows that left-hand (western) shore of Lake Pukaki.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

26 November 2008

The best mountaineer [Nestor notabilis]

Kea, Avalanche Peak, Arthurs Pass NP
I don't think it was trying to make off with my Leki pole, but you never know. Anyway, I don't know why it would need one — I'd gladly swap my poles for a set of wings like these.
New Zealand's kea (Nestor notabilis) are the only true mountain parrots, and might be the most intelligent birds in the world — definitely up there or surpassing crows, ravens and their ilk. While this bird distracted me, its mate was sneaking around behind me to check out my daypack.

[I've rescheduled the posts so I could add this one for any visitors from 10,000 Birds. Thanks Mike, for the generous link :^)]

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

25 November 2008

Sunrise through morning fog, the Catlins

Morning fog, Catlins
In mid February 2006 I explored the Catlins, the south-east corner of the South Island of New Zealand. Early morning; driving through fog. At the intersection where the road heads south to the coast, the sun began to burn away the mist. It's almost hackneyed, but it brings back the memory.

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24 November 2008

The sky over Jaisalmer

Mare's tails, Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer crouches in the desert, surrounded by sand and thorns. The fort looks out over the desert, down to the surrounding town, up to the sky. Here, you look up and the sky goes on forever.

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23 November 2008

Bishnoi man near Jodhpur (2)

Bishnoi man near Jodhpur
Another man from the Bishnoi family; same place, same time, same difficult light.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

22 November 2008

Bishnoi man near Jodhpur

Bishnoi man winding turban near Jodhpur
I tagged along with seven young Israelis on a jeep tour; I felt like a tourist but everyone — my companions, the guide, the people we met — seemed to enjoy the occasion. This elderly man certainly seemed happy to demonstrate his morning ritual, and to pose with the Israeli women. I assume he's been photographed countless times. The bright morning sunlight coupled with his brilliantly white clothing made photographing difficult, but, aware of the risk of blowing out the highlights, I underexposed and got away with it.

Bishnoi hold strong beliefs based on respect and compassion for all living beings. Among the 29 rules by which they live (Hindi Bis = 20 and no = 9; thus 29) is the injunction to inspect and clean firewood in case they inadvertently burn insects or other small lives. Other rules, such as the separation of babies and mothers for 30 days after the birth, while difficult to reconcile with western attitudes and knowledge, are intended to provide rest for women at important times.

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21 November 2008

Seedling, No. 1 Line

Seedling on ponga trunk
In the bush near the start of the No. 1 Line track, not far from the big rimu. This isn't a sprout, it's a seedling growing on the trunk of a ponga (tree fern).

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

20 November 2008

Pigeon at the rat temple

Click to read Dave Bonta's poem prompted by this photo
The Karni Mata Mandir, the rat temple at Deshnoke, near Bikaner in Rajasthan, probably isn't the healthiest of places. Even the rats and pigeons looked a bit worse for wear. But I loved it there. Yes, rats are vermin, but they're also living creatures—complex, intelligent, highly successful. Mammals, like us— and probably more like us than most of us like to admit. I found it moving that here, at least, they were treated with honour and respect. Perhaps my appreciation was part of the reason I was lucky to see the white rat.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

19 November 2008

Villager, north-eastern Gujarat

My friends had asked if we could photograph her. She nodded when Parbat translated the request, and as she studied the cameras pointing at her, I photographed from the side. That evening I managed to get many of the day's photos printed, and Parbat distributed them the following day. I like the thought of my photos remaining there.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

18 November 2008

Stone at Flounder Bay

Stone on stone
I don't know how the holes formed. Possibly some kind of invertebrate, or perhaps the action of the sea grinding tiny pebbles around and inexorably wearing away at the rock. Some holes seem too deliberate and regular, though — like tunnels (hence the suspicion of invertebrates). To give you a scale, this stone fitted comfortably in my hand. Stones similar to this littered the small cove, along with the remains of countless shells, driftwood ranging from old planks and bleached branches to a great, partly buried pine, and the usual scraps of plastic, old drink bottles, and faded jandals.

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17 November 2008

Driftwood stump, Baring Head

Driftwood stump, Baring Head
On the morning of the Baring Head Rock Hop the cloud had already begun to show signs of burning off as I trudged along the beach towards the boulders (those big rocks in the background are where the event takes place.). I hoped it wouldn't disappear completely—harsh, middle-of-the-day sunshine makes photography difficult. I photographed most of the day, enjoying the company, the camaraderie, the chance to photograph people having fun and challenging themselves. Bouldering's a wonderfully social sport; one of the least competitive I know, even if this was supposed to be a competition. In 2009 I'll climb at the Rock Hop, maybe photograph as well. I love both activities.

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Midsummer dusk at Flat Point

This is how I'd like to remember it. But now the far end of the beach has been "developed". A cluster of architecturally designed houses; lawns with private please keep off signs. A beach access sign directing the visitor. (We control who goes where. Thankyou). I thought of Snufkin and wished I knew where I could find hattifattener seed.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

16 November 2008

The shore at dusk, Hawkes Bay

Evening shore
Another wave rushes in, then recedes. Another wave rushes in; recedes. And so it continues, never quite the same, always similar. One sits and watches, and wonders whose human eyes first watched the waves at dusk along this shore. One sits and wonders whose human eyes will watch these waves for the last time, and what will remain. What will outlive us?

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

14 November 2008


Leopard, Naini Tal Zoo
The staff at Naini Tal Zoo had clearly attempted to provide at least some animals with reasonable living conditions (the tiger; the snow leopards, for example). But seven leopards in a cage roughly the area of a tennis court...

In December 2006, shortly after I left the Garhwal region of the Indian Himalaya, three young girls were killed and eaten by leopards (probably the same animal) within a week or so. I'd believed man-eating leopards could now be found only in the pages of books like those of Jim Corbett. I was wrong.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

13 November 2008

The Himalaya from Kausani

The Himalaya from Kausani

Kausani, in the Kumaon region of Uttaranchal, is famous for its views of the Himalaya. The strange black shape above the tree is a crow. A few seconds' work would remove it, but I don't want to.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

12 November 2008

Red beech leaf in the Pohangina

Nothofagus fusca leaf in river
Red beech (Nothofagus fusca) leaf in the Pohangina River below Ngamoko hut. November 2007.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

11 November 2008

Whanganui River—the famous view

Whanganui River valley
This must be one of the most photographed vistas in Aotearoa. Most photos will be framed (i.e. composed) almost identically because the lookout point is small. This is no exception; what's most likely to distinguish it from most others (not all) is the absence of colour.
(The "wh" in Whanganui is not pronounced as an "f". For more discussion, check the comments on this post.)

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

Kahikatea at the Pohangina wetlands

Kahikatea reflection

The tree trunk is the lower part of a small kahikatea; the shiny-leafed shrub to the right is a Coprosma.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

10 November 2008

Garden orbweb spider, Eriophora pustulosa

Eriophora pustulosa

This little guy (those round things in front of his head confirm he's male) was hanging in the middle of his web this morning, long after sunrise. Somewhat surprising, but given the relative calm, I took the opportunity to photograph him without resorting to flash.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

09 November 2008

Elephant in chains

Elephant chains, Chitwan

At Sauraha, the village adjoining Chitwan National Park in Nepal. This was a working elephant at a stable on the outskirts of the village.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

08 November 2008

Habitat, Pohangina gorge

Cliff and pool, Pohangina gorge

Things live here. Some live in the water (when it's clear like this you can look through a couple of metres of water to watch shadows wavering over the stoney bed, or the drift of a trout); some live in the crevices in the rock; some live in the imagination. Look carefully.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

07 November 2008

Tern yoga

Tern doing yoga
Yoga seems to be the thing to do, these days. I did it once. And, despite what the magazines suggest, real people do yoga. But, no one does yoga the way animals do it. Cats are the true masters, but birds have their own asanas, some of which we humans attempt to emulate. I'm sure birds must be tempted to laugh at our feeble attempts, but maybe their superior states of enlightenment allow them to feel compassion for us instead.

I don't know if this tern asana has a human equivalent. Perhaps someone can enlighten me?

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

06 November 2008

Jetty at Earthquake Bay

Jetty & lagoon

A strange place, this; as if time stumbled and reached for the present but couldn't quite get here. (You can find a few more images — photographic and verbal — from Earthquake Bay (not its real name) here and here.)

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

05 November 2008

Rain in the valley

Rain, Pohangina Valley
Rain coming down the Pohangina Valley. Looking northeast; the southern Ruahine Range in the background; river flats on the true right of the Pohangina in the foreground (true right means the right hand bank looking downstream).

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

Fern fronds, No. 1 Line

Fern fronds
On the edge of the track at the top of No. 1 Line. It's about an hour's climb from the carpark; a nice bit of exercise, particularly with a load of camera gear. It can be very beautiful up there, alone, surrounded by low, scrubby bush, the sound of the wind and small birds, perhaps the rush of Matanginui stream drifting up from far below. It's been too long since I've been up there.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

04 November 2008

Roadside grasses

Roadside grasses
Here in the Pohangina Valley Spring's well under way. These grasses were flowering on the roadside in the cutting below my place; mostly shaded by the near vertical bank, they nevertheless picked up a little direct sunlight.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

Ming and Jimmy on the kill

Ming & Jimmy
Jimmy (a.k.a. Tigger) leaves Ming with the remains of a freshly killed plate of cat biscuits. Both finely tuned hunters, they can detect the sound of a fridge door from over a hundred metres away and materialise beyond apparently closed doors.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

03 November 2008

The Thinker, Barda Hills

Barda Hills boy

What does his future hold? Will he leave as soon as he gets the chance? What will he think he's leaving behind?

The Barda Hills near Kileswar, Gujarat. February 2007.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

02 November 2008

Gull musing

Tarapunga resting
I stretched out on the sand, focused, pressed the shutter a few times. Inched forward, repeated the process. Slowly, a little at a time, so I wouldn't disturb the birds — flying away uses energy, requiring more scavenging time. When I'd photographed enough, I inched backwards until I could stand and walk away while they watched, apparently unperturbed. This tarapunga seemed more concerned with its own thoughts, though. What do gulls think about when they're not fighting, mating, or eating?

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

01 November 2008

Pohangina Valley, Spring 2008

Pohangina Valley, Spring 2008A view across the Pohangina Valley from the road in front of my place. Beginning of October, 2008.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor