Thursday, March 31, 2011

90: 2 White Ducks

A friend was up from Dunedin and we took out our cameras together for a photographic stint at the Lagoon today. There was heaps going on. A coot parent was still with a young one, so perhaps that was from a second clutch. Several swans were into some vigorous live action- flapping wings, fluffing up their back feathers, splashing lots of water around. I had never seen such a ruckus from the swans! And we saw a small shag drying itself off on the banks.

But of all the photos I took, I decided on this 'simple' one for this blog. I liked the sharpness of the colour contrast between the brilliant white of the ducks and the dark sheen of the water.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Secret Garden

I recently had some time in New Plymouth, with time to explore my sister's garden, into all the nooks and crannies. What a treasure trove...

There was quite an assortment of bird life, including this pair of pukeko, a duck, and even a kiwi.

 The kiwi was truly endangered: I wanted to pinch it and take it home with me...

There was also testimony in this garden to birds that have flown the coop- with an assortment of old toys lurking around.

 But all those things are relatively 'normal'. You had to be a bit careful walking around, as you never quite knew when you might come across an old shoe or two. It seemed that this particular pair of shoes had a purpose: they marked the spot where a couple of gnomes, with a secret entry door, had made their home.

And there were many more strange things hiding in corners to scare unsuspecting garden visitors: I haven't shared with you such monstrosities as the giant blue lizard on a tree, nor the ferocious crocodile. It came as quite a relief to spy something completely normal: a pile of pegs. 
But just when you relaxed a little, and thought all your troubles were behind you- then suddenly right in front of you stood the Giant Alien.
After that it came as no surprise at all to find the makings for this cart, for surely Bilbo Baggins or Frodo must be about to call in soon to acquire some transport for their stay in Middle Earth.

Gentle reader, with all this magic lurking, I have to say I do not imagine the surprises end in this visible part of the garden either: who knows where this ladder might lead? 

I think it is time to leave this garden before we are abducted by gnomes or aliens, or eaten by a stray crocodile. But before we can leave, we need to pass by one of the scariest parts of it: the place where its creator hangs out regularly....

Phew. Finally we are safe inside. Well..... I thought we were..... but what's that on that plant? Arrrrggghhhhhh!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

88: Fountains

Sunshine on the fountains in the duckpond
in the Square, Palmerston North

Monday, March 28, 2011

87: Te Rewa Rewa Bridge 2

This morning I started an early walk from the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge. And today at sunrise the sky was clear instead of black.... and you could see the mountain I was told about yesterday...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

86: Te Rewa Rewa Bridge

This bridge was opened last year in New Plymouth, and allows walkers, cyclists and runners to travel along the coastal walkway, over the Waiwakaio River and towards Bell Block. Even though it was a bleak day, with threatening black clouds and occasional showers of rain, lots of people were out along the route. 

One person told me I would have to photoshop the mountain in, as you could see it straight along this bridge on a good day, but I told him I had a friend who already had many 'blue sky' photos of this bridge and I had to show the other side of Taranaki weather!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

85: Secret garden

I have just spent a few days at my sister's place in New Plymouth. She has a wonderful garden, with little surprises all around it. There were lots of choices for today's photo, but I chose this one as it reminded me of the little surprises in French gardens.

(I will do a Nomad posting about her garden tomorrow!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

82: What tree?

The flower spikelets on this tree had me wondering today. Seemed unusual in various ways. Not sure what the tree is, but they seem to have taken trouble to preserve it outside the council building...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bridle Track

It was a lovely calm Sunday morning today, just right for venturing out on one of my longer cycle rides since 'the Resumption' two months ago.

It was the Bridle Track that I took- wending its way alongside the Manawatu River as it passes through Palmerston North. (They are talking about extending the track all the way along the river to Ashhurst which would be very grand indeed.)

Here you can see the bridge in the distant background. These photos make the river look awfully 'straight'- but there are actually lots of meandering windy bits. And you can see the renewed stopbanks along this section. The 2004 floods were quite a wake-up call to the city about how vulnerable we would be if the stopbanks failed.

And here is the quirky shot- logs chopped where they have been removing some pine trees:- some were shown to be dangerous in recent storms I know. (Oh and I see that is my bike lying trackside at the top of the photo- careless composition and all- but I was trying to keep my own shadow out of the frame!)

 And here are just a few more.....

monarch-butterfly-on-dahlia shots....

at the Esplanade.

Then it was water, apple, and a good ride home along the city streets...

79: Te Matai Rd crops

En route for the Bridle Track this morning on my bicycle, I passed these crops growing on Te Matai Rd. These soils are the most fertile ones there are near Palmerston North, having been gifted the silt on the flood plains many times.
(It's hard to believe there are some who would try and justify using this land for housing, so they can justify building a second bridge near this point. This is flood plains land, peoples.)

It was a beautiful morning, with gentle sunshine and calm: I was so happy to be out cycling.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Manawatu Estuary

Sunday morning was glorious and I drove down to the Manawatu Estuary. (The tsunami warning from the previous day had been lifted.) There are birds that migrate here for our summer all the way from Alaska, and they are nearly ready to head north again. And some birds from further south in New Zealand over-winter here.

 The ranges you can see in the background are the Tararuas.

There is a pathway that skirts the edge of the estuary and passes the nearby houses. I loved this simple bach: an old-time bach of the kind typical in my childhood.

From near where the Manawatu River entered the sea, you could see the island of Kapiti quite clearly today.

And like always here, there was plenty of birdlife to see.

I think this larger bird is an immature black-backed gull, (though it is hard for me to be sure it isn't a brown skua.)

The bird behind in this duo, with the slimmer, taller neck, is probably a young black-backed gull.

Such a precious time, on such a gorgeous day... just slowing noticing the world around...

Postscript: Last July I also visited this estuary on a glorious day. Two days later I broke my arm. Suffice it to say that last Tuesday I was a bit nervous leaving the house....but I am happy to report I am still 'intact'.

76: Skyscraper

This skyscraper on the edge of the Square here in Palmerston North usually seems way too large and out of proportion with the surrounding buildings. But taken from this angle in the Square with trees 'beneath' it, it looks a bit softer and more human-friendly....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

74: Cathedral

Christchurch Cathedral being drawn by Russell St School children

All across New Zealand, in communities small and large,
people have been raising funds to help the people of Christchurch
who suffered such devastation in the recent earthquake. 

Today I popped into Russell St School
where they have been having 7 Days of fundraising for Christchurch
The children were very busy drawing a large chalk version of the Cathedral on the courts,
and there was a lovely atmosphere of collaborative purpose amongst them.

Our hearts also go to the people of Japan.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

72: Gull Trouble!

Spent some time this glorious morning at the Manawatu Estuary where it was low tide, and there were lots of birds to see. The smaller red-billed gulls were quite often given their marching orders by these bigger birds. Well, faced down by that big glare, wouldn't you run too?!
(I think I know what the bigger bird is, but am just checking with my ornithologist friend first in case I tell you the wrong thing!)
Final word... probably an immature black-backed gull.... my friend is not sure from the photo.... so maybe it isn't a skua....but it is still very beautiful!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

71: Seed dispersal

When I was a little girl I used to love finding dandelions
and I would blow the 'fairies' to the wind
with no idea that I was an active disperser of seeds
spreading 'weeds' hither and yon.

Now I am more of a passive disperser,
who hasn't pulled the 'weeds' out in time.

But oh, how beautiful the dandelion is
and how glad I am to see this gem in the sunlight.

-Also, you can see 'intact' dandelion on day 67

Friday, March 11, 2011

a Square evening

This evening I took a short walk in the Square just after sunset, as dark was closing in, 
and the light from the Clocktower was just becoming visible.
 The lights from the tower reflected in the duck pond

and the moon was visible in the sky...

I have seen a few young people post photos of themselves and friends on Facebook
posing around the clocktower base
but I never realised it was quite a family affair as well. 

As it got darker, more lighting came on in the Square

and the bridge over the duckpond drew my eye, all lit up...

...lights from this nearby cafe reflected on the pond...

I must go back another night.... and maybe even an old fuddy duddy like me can pose with friends in front of the clocktower base on my birthday!!

70: Clocktower at night

Clocktower in Palmerston North lit up early evening