On Saturday my friends biked the coastal track to the Pencarrow lighthouse while I walked the shoreline and tried to find photographs in the hard, contrasty light of early afternoon. After spending some time photographing a hauled-out fur seal, a group of little shags, a moth under a small lump of rata driftwood, and a fragment of wave-polished paua shell, I saw these two variable oystercatchers preening just above the water's edge on the shingle beach. I put my bag down, changed lenses, and crept a little closer, gradually and carefully. I didn't want to disturb them, so lay down on the shingle and began to photograph. They seemed unperturbed, so I wriggled a little closer. The almost impossible light — overhead and casting harsh shadows — and the black plumage and bright stones and sea left me wondering why I was even attempting to photograph.
Sometimes, though, the only options are to do what you can or to give up and guarantee failure. I chose the former.
Misty cloud hung around the southern Ruahine today, hiding the tops, lingering in the lower gullies, suffusing the land with mystery and possibility. Even as low down as my place, intermittent drizzly rain kept everything sodden, and I knew a walk up the No. 1 Line track would mean a long, slippery climb in the rain. I hadn't been up there for a fortnight, though, and that felt like an age. I prepared for rain and drove to the carpark.
The bottom two thirds of the track had been cleared since I'd last walked it. A professional job—DOC contractors, probably. They might have been there yesterday and might be back to finish the job on Monday. I had mixed feelings about the new highway but had to concede it made the walking easier.
At the top I sheltered on the track behind the seat, out of the worst of the gale. Down in the valley the wind hadn't even been noticeable. I decided not to brew tea and instead ate the walnut-and-raisin roll and scribbled a few notes, trying to shelter the little notebook from the drizzle, then packed up and picked my way back down the slithery track to the car. Not the best of days, weatherwise, but a satisfying walk. By the time I started down the road, evening had arrived. I stopped partway down the road, wound down the passenger wind and photographed this. It's a fair impression of the weather.
Hard to believe this was the valley just over three months ago. Now, those bright poplar leaves have vanished and the drenched and sodden land lacks all trace of colours other than drab, drear greys, ill greens, and the sad browns and diseased yellows of decay. On the southern Ruahine tops, not far from here, fresh snow will no doubt still be falling. Just when winter seemed to be starting to relax, it's back.
This looks south down the valley. The hills in the distance are the last of the northern Tararua Range; they too will be deep in snow.
This particular tagasaste ('tree lucerne') attracts tui, korimako, kereru, tauhou, and a goodly number of bumblebees. A couple of days ago I watched two tui feeding in one area of the tree while a beautiful male korimako (bellbird) fed avidly in another area. The larger tui chase off the smaller korimako, but on this occasion the bellbird managed a good session.
[I've published a new post — Ghost thoughts — on the other blog. Check it out if you're interested, and leave a comment.]
Another heavy, louring day; another day when the birds seemed to pay little heed to the guy wandering slowly around, occasionally pointing the camera at them. This kereru seemed comfortable just sitting, doing nothing. What light did filter through the overcast sky came from the wrong direction, but with a kereru this cooperative I couldn't resist photographing.