We are out of the clouds at last and the early light show in our Grand Otago Alps Theatre didn’t fail to impress.
Then I had a bit of a disaster – a rogue wind gust toppled my (most stable) tripod with my best camera on top of it, rendering it inoperative before I could rescue it.
Gravity is a wonderful thing but sometimes I wish it wouldn’t be quite so assertive. Luckily I have a backup camera with me and it is going to be working hard for the next few days. Just a few days ago I was lamenting the fact that I didn’t have several more camera bodies with me because when the lighting gets into the zone I am always spoilt for choice for a good shot. With the timelapse work that camera is committed to that one orientation for maybe an hour or more. So I am going to have to become a crystal ball reader in a hurry.
Anyway one good camera is better than none and I will make the most of it from now on.
I managed to assemble a number of time lapse sequences in various directions with different lighting and Ill let you view short sections of them Click HERE for the ridge on the opposite side of the saddle
Click HERE a> for a view towards the north… this is the one that spelled the damage to the camera.
Click Here for a time lapse of a view towards the south town the East Matukituki valley. You will see there was quite a good dusting of snow on the beech forest overnight.
I had intended to write something about John Buchanan the amazing polymath naturalist and artist after whom the mountain range we are now on was named. I have had the good fortune to have been associated with his beautiful illustrations of the area and I will tell you all about that tomorrow.
HERE is a closer detail timelapse of the view to the south.
Over another fantastic James Stapley lunch THIS was the changing view outside our window. You can see that the weather is not quite settled yet.
After lunch we donned our snow shoes for a couple of hours of much needed and very welcome exercise on an excursion to the Upper Albert Burn basin and a nearby waterfall beneath the bluffs on Dragonfly Peak
Here are a few images from the jaunt.
Here is Erica at the waterfall looking for lichens.
There was quite a lot of orographic cloud mooching around today signalling a return to more provident weather (hopefully because you can never be sure of anything in the mountains)
On Our Way Home
Ill now hand over to Erica to conclude today’s post with her own musings & images.
Erica’s Mini Musings
I’ve always been pretty keen on animals, hard not to be when you’re Dad is a vet. In particular, I’ve always had a fascination for New Zealand’s native birds. Every time we went into the bush, Dad would teach me how to identify different native plants and also the birds, by sight and by bird call. I was never very good at photographing them, but my first photograph of a kea was memorable. It was black and white and I took it up the Remarkables during a summer trip up to Lake Alta with some friends. I still have the print somewhere, it has a tear in it and is slightly over-exposed, but I was chuffed with it. The negative is no doubt buried somewhere (probably never to be seen again). I also remember a book of New Zealand Wilderness Stories which Dad gave me, my favourite story was ‘Charlie the Cheeky Kea’ by Jack Lasenby. The elusive Kea image has been on the mind for a long time!
When I was doing my postgraduate degree at Massey, I had a wonderful opportunity to help a friend who was looking at Salmonella in New Zealand lizards (skinks and geckos) for her Masters thesis. The first trip I accompanied her on was to Hauturu, Little Barrier Island which is inhabited by a huge number of birds, including many Kaka. The Kaka used to be hand-fed on the island and had to be weaned off supplementary food when it was realised that the best conservation strategy was to let them learn how to find food themselves. One of the Kaka though, was not keen on that idea and was very friendly. He was called ‘Ratbag’ – for obvious reasons. While Ratbag was not a Kea, he was a very suitable substitute and I subsequently have a whole bank of photos of him. He of course loved researchers. We followed the rule of not feeding him, but he worked out how to get food from us while we baited the skink pit fall-traps (just buckets in the beach to catch the skinks, they then can’t get out so we could sample them, measure them and then let them go). Great photo opportunities! I was still in pursuit of a good, photo-worthy kea though.
Most days this week, we’ve had a visit from Keas and at the slight hint of a ‘squawk’, I will leap out of the chalet, camera at the ready. An older bird decided to pop in this morning, slightly less mischievious than the glove-fiend, at least we hoped so. Armed with my camera, I spent an hour with ‘Charlie’, having a chat, taking photos and observing him. I think he was as interested in me as I was with him. There were a few things I noticed – whenever I was talking to him, he would tilt his head to one side, or right round. He was also quite keen to jump on my camera or my shoulder, but didn’t quite pluck up the courage. He did however touch my gloved hand with his beak. He learned quite quickly, that if he bit me, I would pull my hand away and yelp, which gave him a fright. But, if he was gentle, I would leave it there and he could look at the rest of my hand. He used the top and bottom of his beak and his tongue…very weird feeling! On shiny surfaces, such as the beams, he needed to use 3 points of contact to manouvre – OSH would be proud! This meant, two feet and his beak, which was highly amusing. Dad’s tripod was particularly entertaining as there is not a large surface area. He managed to perch on top and have a preen all the same!
With the snow we’ve had in the past few days there has been much build up on the Northern face of the chalet. Charlie was busy trying to pluck up the courage to climb onto my lap but eventually chickened out so flew off the railing and decided just below me would be a fine place to land. Unfortunately for him, this was right in the snow drift, which was much deeper and fluffier powder than he’d anticipated. Luckily for me, I had a camera and the result was what I can only assume is, embarrassment.
Kea used to be plentiful in the Southern Alps. Their demise, like many species in New Zealand is a result of human activities. Luckily, it is possible to co-exist. Kea used to be shot by run-holders because they were expert at wounding and killing sheep. This was no good for either species. They have also been decimated by stoats and possums who eat their young. DOC estimates there is somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 left. It is really frustrating when they damage gear or steal food, but we need to remember, we’re in their patch, we need to look after them. I hope, in years to come, that future generations get to interact with these glorious birds. They truly are magnificent with their 50 shades of green plumage and their bright crimson under-carriage.
Martin Curtis, a local song-writer, conservationist, mountaineer, and top-bloke has written a wonderful poem about Kea, which I’m sure most mountaineers who have explored this area can relate to. The last image below is exactly as described! I’ve included a YouTube Link of him delivering it to the Hawea Flat School: LINK. Enjoy!
Visiting Kea & His antics today
A tale of two Kea – by Martin Curtis
Now I’ll tell you a tale of a kea
That I met in a high mountain hut
This clown of a bird was rather absurd
In fact a bit of a nut
I’d been out all day on the mountain; the descent to the hut was quite steep
So I boiled up a brew
Had a cuppa or two
And retired to me bed for a sleep
It was four or five in the morning
Long before the first light
As I slept the deep sleep of the weary
I heard a loud ‘clunk’ in the night
Then a pattering sound on the iron
And a galloping down the ridge
Then he opened his beak, let out a loud ‘shriek’
And slid right down to the edge
Then he climbed back up to the roof-top
And he started all over again
My what a din, up and down on the tin
Like the whole All Black Team
Well at last I could stand it no longer
So I jumped from me bed in a fit
Grabbed the broomstick that stood in the corner
And the ceiling proceeded to hit
All at once there was nothing but silence
Ten second silence ensued
Then a pattering sound down the iron
And a feathered face came into view
Hanging upside down from the gutter
With his beak pressed into the pane
‘What was that, that just rattled me talons?’
You could see going round in his brain
I hid really quiet in the corner
So he ran back up to the top
And he started again on his little refrain
So I banged to see if he’d stop
Once again there was a brief silence
As I thumped on the tin with the broom
Then a ‘squawk’, and the sound, of feet pattering down
And a face peering inside the room
For more than a half hour or longer
We continued with our little game
I’d bang on the ceiling, he’d run down the tin
And look in the window, in vain
Each time I would stand so quietly
He couldn’t see what made the noise
The poor bird was getting quite flustered
He was really loosing his poise
But at last there was nothing but silence
Ah, the kea’s flown off in a tiff
So I went back to bed and lay down me head
And I was sound asleep in a jiff
It was only another few minutes
When I awoke to a sound that I knew
‘Clunk’ on the roof, then a ‘clunk’ once again
Oh no, now I think there’s two!
They proceeded to dance the fandango
And a jig and a polka as well
So I leapt from the bunk, and I grabbed up the broom
And I started to hammer like hell
As I banged away at the ceiling
With the noise going on up there
The hairs on me neck started prickling
And I felt a cold, icy stare
I stopped in the midst of my efforts
And behind me I took a peek
There, upside down in the window
Two beady eyes and a beak
At that, the parrot got quite excited
With shrieks and squawks in full flight
Gave a few flaps like a great feathered bat
And flew back up to his mate
And with that, curiosity satisfied
They decided to call it a day
With one very last run down the roof, just for fun
And a squawk the clowns flew away
apologies for the lack of editing today – deadline & internet cutoff arrived before we could do that