This January and most of February has been spent much the same way as previous years, namely endlessly sorting and processing images from our Christmas trip.
My last post finished up with Steve and I in Blenheim preparing to travel through the 180,787 hectare Molesworth Station.
Steve and I had always been intrigued by the thought of doing the 207-kilometre trip through the Molesworth, from Blenheim to Hanmer Springs. We wanted to explore the scenery and take some landscape images.
After trying to get out onto the Cook Straight twice earlier on in the year, I finally guessed the weather right this November.
Windy Wellington lives up to its name and I had previously booked trips in early winter that had to be cancelled due to high winds. However, I got the weather right this time and November the 17th was fine and it was a happy and excited group of 12 hopefuls that put their trust in captain Jonno and out into the choppy sea we went.
Every trip is different and on this trip saw heaps and heaps of taiko or Western Black Petrels along with the other usual suspects.
The main culprits were
- Salvin’s Mollymawk
- White-capped Mollymawk
- Black-browed Mollymawk
- Giant Northern Petrel
- Western Black Petrel
- Flesh-footed Shearwater
At times there were so many birds circling the boat it was impossible to single one out, without so many others photobombing my subject.
Too many birds in the frame is not really a reason for complaint but rather a challenge.
This trip sea was lumpy due to a stiff breeze. These are ideal conditions, as the breeze assists the birds to skim across the rises and troughs making for more dramatic images.
After our exciting trip through the Nevis valley with the sun beating down on us the day before, it was quite a shock to wake to a very cold and bleak day the next morning.
Today we had plans to hunt for a pair of famous kārearea or the New Zealand bush falcons that frequent the Poolburn area. The first and only time I had been up there previously the road had been closed because of snow, so was unable to reach the top, but I saw 3 kārearea from the wagon that day lower down.
This time, my second attempt to get to the dam up the top there was no snow, so up the wagon climbed to the top of the hills we went, looking for bush falcons except there was no bush and no Falcons.
These birds live completely out in the open in central Otago region which was very novel for us as our North Island birds never seem to stray far from the bush. As we climbed higher up the road the temperature plummeted.
We scanned the large rock formations each side of the road searching for the classic and distinctive telltale silhouette of the kārearea against the steel grey sky.
A perfect rock for a karearea to sit atop on the lookout for prey except there weren’t no kārearea. There is something starwarsy about this rock.
Our last instalment left our heroes staring somewhat nervously at the gate to the Nevis track. All over that gate and posts surrounding that gate were a plethora of warnings about the tracks ruthlessness during the winter months.
While this was mid-autumn, it had been a very wet autumn.
However, there was no turning back so up the track we went gaining height rapidly trying to ignore that nagging apprehension deep in my Tummy. This is a long track and a long walk out if we got stuck.
In my last blog, we, Steve and I were in Hasst, a small town at the southernmost end of the west coast road of the South Island.
With no way to head further south, we turned east, away from the sea and the heavy rain-sodden bush covered mountains, up through the Haast Pass into the open tussock lands of the Otago region.
All the time hoping the rain that had dogged us thus far on our trip will be left sulking behind us on the coast.
We made our way up through the high silver beech forest stopping every now and again to see what birdlife would grace us with its presence.
First up Mr Tomtit or ngirungiru his Maori name, whatever he answers to he came into our call to spy us out.