31 December 2008

Wall, penultimate evening of 2008

Evening wallYesterday evening the last ten minutes or so of sunlight turned the valley into something spectacular. I had a record shot prepared for this evening, but decided I liked this better. I might or might not post the other one later.

Happy New Year, everyone. May it bring the peace and joy we need.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

30 December 2008

Scrambling rose

White rose
What must the world seem like to a thrips*, or a tiny wasp?

*"Thrips" is both plural and singular. It's like "species"— one doesn't say "specie" (unless referring to coins, collectively).

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

29 December 2008

Kea, Avalanche Peak

Kea on Avalanche Peak
One of the pair of kea (Nestor notabilis) on Avalanche Peak in Arthurs Pass National Park; the mist-filled Crow Valley in the background. Perhaps a less striking photo than the earlier one I posted, but I like the way this seems to convey the bird's personality and it shows the bird in its true context.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

28 December 2008

Park Valley from Mungo hut

March 2005. Morning mist clears from the Park Valley, the last major tributary of the Mungo headwaters, as my brother and I wait for the helicopter. We'd spent a week at Mungo hut, mostly rain-watching, but in Westland it pays to be philosophical about the weather.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

27 December 2008

Bantam egg

White egg, white cloth
Colour can be more subtle than we generally realise.

[Six of these delightful little bantams' eggs were a gift I can hardly bring myself to eat. I'll manage, though.]

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

26 December 2008

Home is more than place

Cloud over home
"Birds in flight, claims the architect Vincenzo Volentieri, are not between places, they carry their places with them. We never wonder where they live: they are at home in the sky, in flight. Flight is their way of being in the world."
—(Geoff Dyer, from "Out of Sheer Rage: In the Shadow of D.H. Lawrence".)

I'm reluctant to call anywhere "home" because it can be taken to imply "home" is nowhere else, or indeed that it's a specific place — and only a specific place. But I'll put aside the nit-picking just for a moment and say this place, under this wild sky, is, for the time being, home.

[Photo at dusk just over a month ago, when the ti kouka (cabbage trees) were flowering profusely.]

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

25 December 2008

Miniature falls, Pohangina River

Swift water, Pohangina River
Detail from the Pohangina River on Tuesday (23 December). If you look closely at the lower right-hand edge of the backlit triangle of water in the centre of the frame, you'll see several tiny dark shapes. They're flies of some sort — possibly crane flies, perhaps the remarkable net-winged midges (Blephariceridae), of which Aotearoa has eight described species and several more known but not yet described. By the same time the next day, all this would have been underwater.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

24 December 2008

Mother and child, Ranthambhore National Park

Langur and baby
Well, it's Christmas Eve, and all going well I should be out of the hills — with lots of sightings of whio, I trust. Right now it's the 21st, the evening before we head to mid Pohangina hut to start the survey, and I'm scheduling this post for the evening of the 24th in case I'm too stuffed to fire up the rorohiko and work up a photo. This one seems as appropriate as any because it depicts at least two things I'm wishing for the season — that we love and take care of each other, and that wild things, wild places, and wildness itself, will survive. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Update, 24 December: The helicopter flew me out this afternoon, in weather that had me wondering whether I'd still be up in the Pohangina headwaters on Christmas Day. I ended up doing the survey alone as JJ was crook. A couple of beautiful days, then the rain began last night; I got about three quarters of an hour up the river on the last section of the survey before discretion supplanted enthusiasm. If I'd left it much later to turn around, I might not have got back to the hut, as the river was rising rapidly. But all's well, and I had a great time up there. Yes, wildness still survives.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

23 December 2008

Downvalley from Chomrong, Nepal

View down the valley from ChomrongOn the Annapurna Sanctuary Trail. It's a steep climb up from that river.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

22 December 2008

A dream of dark water

Dark water
A dream of dark water, something whispering under branches. A hollow splash, ripples spreading. The moment begins to fragment as the slow stream swallows sound and light.

[Below the bridge over Te Awaoteatua Stream, 2 November 2008.]

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

21 December 2008

Clearing storm, Annapurna South

Annapurna storm
March 2007, at Tadapani on the Annapurna trail. The cloud begins to break towards evening, revealing glimpses of Annapurna South, like vignettes from the past. One might imagine the ghosts of long-perished climbers wandering restlessly up there, calling to their families, to their friends, to those who loved them. Do not forget us, they say.
All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

20 December 2008

Blue sky, white roof

White roof, blue sky
Two colours. My roof, on a day very different from today.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

19 December 2008

Nor'wester over fence post

Nor'west sky, Pohangina valley

A wild sky this morning; bad weather on the way, in time for the weekend. Still, it's forecast to have cleared by Monday, when I head into the Ruahine for the whio survey — we're doing the headwaters of the Pohangina; being flown out by helicopter on Christmas Eve :^)

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

18 December 2008

Musicians' jam session at The Celtic

Jamming at The Celtic
Each Tuesday evening the musicians gather at The Celtic. I hadn't been there for a long time, so I was surprised — and pleased — to see so many playing. It's all unplugged, too, so we who weren't playing could hold conversations without shouting. Although the place looks relatively empty, we had a good crowd; behind me were a couple of dozen people, and the smokers, of course, were all outside.

Update: I forgot to mention that this was at ISO 3200. Also, you can view a couple more photos on the latest post on PohanginaPete.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

17 December 2008

The hills of Kumaon, from Kausani

Kausani, in the Kumaon region of Uttaranchal (now known as Uttarakhand), is famous for its views of the Himalaya. But the view in the other direction, from the far side of the ridge on which Kausani sits, has its own charm.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

16 December 2008

Dog at Kausani

Dog at Kausani, Uttaranchal
Most dogs I encountered in India were in terrible condition — many were mangy or otherwise diseased; most were thin, some to the point of being skeletal; the usual behaviour was craven. A few I kept well clear of — rabies kills tens of thousands of people each year in India and although I'd been prevaccinated I didn't relish the thought of the post-bite course of injections. But occasionally I'd meet dogs that were obviously well looked after; lovely animals who evoked feelings of delight rather than pity. This was the first of those, at the guest house at Kausani in the Himalaya. I'd like to think his expression here was one of melancholy because I was leaving, but he was probably just bored.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

15 December 2008

Cat at the Jodhpur fort

Cat at the fort, Jodhpur
After rooms full of knives and ramparts arrayed with cannon, small lives like these in the shadows of human history, surviving in the face of the threat of the human future, filled me with hope.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

14 December 2008

Palm squirrel at Jodhpur

Palm squirrel, Jodhpur
The history of the great fort at Jodhpur is one of war, violence, and political machinations (among other things). Yet the fort's occupants are not just human; what small battles are fought among its other inhabitants have almost no power beyond their immediate vicinity.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

13 December 2008

Sack mender, Jodhpur market

Sack mender, Jodhpur
In an out of the way corner of the main market in Jodhpur, I came across two men mending sacks. I have no idea whether this was their only work; no idea how long they mended sacks each day. They did seem pleased I was interested, although perhaps they were enjoying the craziness of foreigners who were interested in sack mending.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

12 December 2008

Morning at the head of the White River

Snow, rock, sky
By the time we began the descent from the summit of Mt Wakeman the sun still hadn't risen high enough to warm the western slopes of the small side-valley. The first signs of bad weather drifted across the sky. We cramponned back down to Barker hut and spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching the cloud thicken. [Mid January, 2005]

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

11 December 2008

July snow

Just four months ago, snow coated the southern Ruahine, not quite reaching down to my place.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

10 December 2008

Snow and ice, Mt Ruapehu

On a climb of Girdlestone, one of Mt Ruapehu's subsidiary summits, in 2005

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

09 December 2008


From Boxing Day a couple of years ago. Just playing around.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

08 December 2008

Ya pear

Ya pear
Sometimes simple things can't be beaten.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

07 December 2008

Old ice, Otira Valley

Old ice, Otira Valley
By midsummer, only sun-eroded ice remains, the consolidated debris of winter avalanches slowly dripping away and forming the headwaters of the Otira River. Jono and I climb Rolleston twice — once by the popular Otira Slide route to check the descent route; then a couple of days later via the Otira Face. Days to remember.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

06 December 2008

At the wedding, Kileswar [2]

Villager, Barda Hills
Another man from the wedding party in the Barda Hills near Kileswar, Gujarat.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

05 December 2008

Beach sculpture [2]

Pebble pile at Birdlings Flat
Another photo of artwork on Birdlings Flat, just south of Banks Peninsula.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

04 December 2008

Stone curlews at Jamnagar

Stone curlews

The stone curlew, or Eurasian thick-knee (Burhinus oedicnemus), is a strange-looking bird whose primary defence is to crouch or stand perfectly still. We were lucky to see these just before the last sunlight vanished. I'd never seen them before, and to date have never seen them again.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

03 December 2008

Potter near Jodhpur

Potter near Jodhpur
In the countryside near Jodhpur. He threw pots by hand on a simple wheel comprising a massive stone wheel spun with a stick, its momentum keeping it turning while he shaped the pot.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

02 December 2008

Himalayan bulbuls at Kausani

White-cheeked bulbuls
Although the photo might suggest one bird is feeding the other, these Himalayan bulbuls (Pycnonotus leucogenys) in fact appeared to be disputing the ownership of the seed. It's easy to misinterpret the behaviour of birds (and other animals — including, and perhaps especially(!), humans). I try to avoid jumping to conclusions about what's happening; generally, I see no harm in simply watching, enjoying, and wondering.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor

01 December 2008

Rhesus macaque at Rishikesh

Rhesus macaque
In her comment on the photo of the Tibetan wolf, RR mentioned how she'd tried to avoid anthropomorphism. It can be difficult with dogs, but it's hardest of all with monkeys.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor