Tag Archives: Birdlings Flat

Bay Watch

On the South Island coast I’m on the alert for local fauna.  My first sighting is a sea lion flinging an octopus about in Blueskin Bay.  That dark shape in the water is the sea lion’s head, octopus dangling from mouth.  (If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can make it out.)

Next morning I see the sea lion again.  This time breakfast is flounder (so I’m told).

…down the hatch it goes…

On the Otago coastline between Oamaru and Dunedin is an outcrop of rocks called Shag Point.  There, all year round, you can see a colony of New Zealand fur seals.  On this day it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale.  I can’t step out of the car without getting soaked so I take these photos from my car window.

At the turn off to Shag Point is a cottage.  Wow!  What an outlook.  Location Location!!

The next day we return to Shag Point as the rain has stopped.  I take a five minute walk from the car park and look down over the cliff.  Can you make out the seals on the rocks?  (It can be hard to tell a seal from a rock.)

This must be the nursery.

…and this is surely Father.  “Wake Up Father“.

After a few days in Otago we find ourselves back in Canterbury.  We stay in this heavenly homestead near Little River (not far from Christchurch).  The house was built in 1900.  We feel we are in a Katherine Mansfield short story.

I am always drawn back to Birdlings Flat, a beach entirely made up of stones.  A group of South Island pied oystercatchers make their way along the beach.

A black-backed gull ruffles his feathers.

Red-billed gulls rest and think about what to do next.  (My aim is to photograph without disturbing the birds, which I succeed in doing.)

The surf continuously pounds this southern-facing coastline.  I lie in the stones and watch the white-fronted terns as they preen themselves…

…call to one another…

…fly in…

…and fly out.

In the lagoon behind the beach a solitary white heron sounds an alarm.  Is it me he is worried about?  There is quite a body of water between us.

But still he flies away.  (Perhaps he always meant to fly away and it is nothing to do with me.  I hope so.)

Driving over the hills of Banks Peninsula we encounter a flock of sheep.  The farmer looks like Jed Clampett.

The view from the top of the hill is outstanding.  That must be Akaroa on the far side.

I suggest to Matthew he might like to check out some Barry’s Bay cheese.  While he is sampling the famous cheeses I hop across the road to photograph the birds.

A paradise shelduck forages during low tide.

On a small island in the bay birds not of a feather stick together.

Toi toi.

A pukeko takes me and my camera in her stride.

…and the next day we fly back to Australia.

 

 

Small Country, Big Heart

a sign at Lake Matheson on the west coast of New Zealand.

A quote at Lake Matheson, South Westland.

Matthew and I have just returned from 12 days in the South Island of New Zealand.   Though we have traveled globally over the years, our country of birth never fails to inspire us.  I invite you to partake in some South Island landscapes.

Birdlings Flat is a wildly atmospheric beach near Christchurch. Here people fossick for semi-precious stones. A couple of white-fronted terns fly overhead.

Birdlings Flat is a bleak yet atmospheric beach on Banks Peninsula, near Christchurch. Here people fossick for semi-precious stones. A couple of white-fronted terns dart overhead.

Succulents thrive at Birdlings Flat.

Succulents luxuriate in the arid conditions of Birdlings Flat.

Wherever you are in the world, you may have heard about the fires this week on the Port Hills of Christchurch. Here is an evening view of the Port Hills which I took only 24 hours before the fires began.

A sunset view of the Port Hills of Christchurch taken from Tai Tapu.

Inland Canterbury is known as high country. This is Matthew's soul country. Near Lake Heron Station.

Inland Canterbury, west of Christchurch, is high country.   Near Lake Heron Station.

Up near Erewhon Station on the Rangitata river bed.

Matthew, in the distance, walks on a shingle river bed.   Rangitata river at Erewhon Station.

It was a long way across the shingle until we finally got to the Rangitata river. (On braided rivers, most of the river flows under the stones.)

One has to walk a long way across shingle until one comes to actual flowing river. (On braided rivers, most of the river flows under the stones.)

Finally, the flowing river, which we sat beside with flasks of coffee and home-made cake.

Finally, the flowing river, where we picnic on coffee from flasks and home-baked cake.

Patterns made by a river and patterns made by clouds.

Patterns made by a river and patterns made by clouds.

The hill beyond this stream is called Mt Summer, but you may well have seen it as the location for Edoras in "Lord of the Rings".

The hill beyond this stream is called Mt Sunday, but you may well have seen it on film as Edoras in “Lord of the Rings”.

A return to the coast. This is Blueskin Bay; an estuary 25 kms north of Dunedin.

A return to the coast.  Blueskin Bay; an estuary 25 kms north of Dunedin.

Coastal birds on the other side of the inlet at Blueskin Bay.

Coastal birds on the other side of the inlet at Blueskin Bay, Otago.

Later that day at Lake Hawea, a nearly-sunset rainbow formed.

Later that day at Lake Hawea, a nearly-sunset rainbow forms against a mountain backdrop.

View from the road at Lake Hawea. Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon were being filmed close by for "A Wrinkle in Time". No, I didn't see them - but I knew they were about.

View from the passenger seat of the car as Matt speeds along beside Lake Hawea.  (Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon are being filmed in this area for “A Wrinkle in Time”.  They have been spotted, some say, at Wanaka.)

We stayed at Lake Hawea Station, a farm which has been in the same family since 1912.

We stay at Lake Hawea Station, a farm which has been in the same family since 1912.  I endure the strong wind to check out their sheep-with-view.

Just over a hill from Lake Hawea is Lake Wanaka.

Just over a hill from Lake Hawea is Lake Wanaka.

Over on the west coast of New Zealand is another thoroughly wild beach named Bruce bay. Actually the whole west coast coastline is untamed. Waves are extraordinarily powerful and the winds howl.

On the West Coast is another thoroughly wild beach named Bruce Bay.  Waves are extraordinarily powerful and the winds howl.  Acres of driftwood cover the sands.  Above the shoreline is majestic Rimu rainforest.

In the path of the force 10 westerly gale is a friendly coffee cart which makes terrific coffee and sells - ICE CREAMS.

In the path of the force 10 westerly gale is a friendly coffee cart which makes terrific coffee and sells – ICE CREAM!

North from Bruce Bay is the Franz Josef glacier and Lake Matheson. The lake is famous for its reflections of the Southern Alps. We came along slightly too late in the morning for the lake to be still like a mirror.

North from Bruce Bay is the Franz Josef Glacier and Lake Matheson. The lake is famous for its reflections of the Southern Alps. We arrive slightly too late in the morning for the lake to be still like a mirror.  Even with a slight ripple, the scene is awe-inspiring.

At Lake Matheson there are a few quotes on plaques.  One reads, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her” – William Wordsworth.  Another reads, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more” – John Burroughs.   Albert Einstein is also quoted, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”.  (Later, I faithfully copy these quotes into my art journal.)

A view of the ever-retreating (due to global warming) Franz Josef glacier.

A view of iconic Franz Josef Glacier.

We returned to the east coast via Arthurs Pass. What an astounding feat in engineering is the Otira viaduct! Can you imagine building a viaduct in such a precarious and actively seismic environment?!

We cross the Southern Alps via Arthurs Pass. What an astounding feat of engineering the Otira viaduct is!  Every time we drive on this seemingly floating road, we stop at the viewing platform to admire the audacity of its existence.

Matt and I stopped at Otira to pay homage to a view which I had once painted. Happily for us, a coal train appeared.

Matt and I stop at Otira to pay homage to a view which I once painted. Happily for us, a coal train appears.

And here is that old painting…

"Track and Field" - an oil painting from 2002.

“Track and Field” – an oil painting from 2002.

On our two week journey we also met and photographed many birds and animals.  They will be the subject of my next post.