The Changing Seasons – May days

Before the winter sets in, we have been enjoying the last days of Autumn in some of our favourite places  in the South Island, NZ.


St Annes Lagoon wildlife reserve was today’s road trip from our Parnassus stop over..  Autumn foliage colours still linger as did the birdlife flying overhead.  So many trees were half submerged in the lake.

 Whilst I was wandering with my camera, Leicester found someone to chat to, discovering they had a mutual friend from 50 years ago- such is the nature of this small country, it would appear. He was happy and so was I in my happy place wandering with my camera.

 Back at camp, we were amused by Seymour the tame magpie who crows like a rooster and barks like a dog. I tried to mimic the rooster sounds so she would too but I only embarrassed myself. I have the video clip to prove it – but nope – not going to share that.

Next stop was Kaiapoi which is handily located not far from family and friends on the outskirts of Christchurch.  We attended our granddaughter’s birthday party. 

We love visiting Christchurch as many of our cousins and extended family live here so there are often several  visits and coffee catchups with family each time we visit.

Fishing in the Mckenzie canals

The silence  is broken only by the gentle plop of the lines being cast into the flowing canal. Everywhere I look I see hopeful anglers  casting and reeling their lines. Waiting for the elusive rainbow trout or perhaps salmon escapees from the salmon farms that stretch throughout the man made canals.

Hydro electric power schemes on a grand scale have turned this region into a fisherman’s dreamland. 56 kilometers of canals teaming with big rainbow trout. 


Adjacent to the salmon farms are the ever present fishers.   Parking up in an assortment of vehicles from utes to motor homes, cars or cyclists, everyone has to stop and try their luck at catching the trophy fish, or at least stopand ask that question – “Any luck Today?”  The answers vary as you would expect.

Even if the fish are not rising to the bait it is so peaceful here. Amazing reflections. Interesting bird life. And even some water rats co-existing with the wildlife and humans. 
There are as many theories as there are fishers or so it seems.  So many theories of what to use to attract the fishy interest. Egg rolling or glow bugs? Live bait or lures? What time of the day? Is the flow fast enough? Is the current too strong? 
So many questions. The only important question is – where are the fish?

It’s so quiet then suddenly there is an almighty splash and telltale ripples expanding across the canal. Which way did that fish go? 


There is quite a little community of like-minded people here, quietly conversing as they stroll along with their egg rolling tactics. ( the egg rolling technique is a common method for attracting trout. Little egg-like bits of fluff with a hidden hook inside.)  Apparently the trout feed on fish eggs so the trick is to get the right colour egg and cast out the line, allowing it to float/ roll along with the current. If the fish fancy the egg then it’s all on as they gulp the hook.


Nets at the ready, the fish is played until it comes into the waters edge. A quick scoop of the net and it is caught. Everyone else on the canal looks across to check the size and the type of fish. Is it a  brown trout, a rainbow trout or the prized salmon?

The success of the hunt is short lived as the fisher gets straight back into the action. There is a sense of  real camaraderie here.  Whilst there are those that go to great lengths to protect their secretl tips and techniques, there are others who generously share their experience and knowledge with the newbies.  


It’s an addiction of the healthiest kind. Fresh air and exercise, solitude and amazing  scenery. What’s not to love?  Walking thousands of steps each day, it sure beats hitting the gym. There is something special about stepping out alongside the canals whether you have cast a line or not.  Aoraki (Mt Cook) dominates the landscape  even if it is sometimes hiding amongst the clouds,  it’s majestic presence is felt and enjoyed by all who venture here.  

The air is pure and crisp. The views are truly spectacular and the changing light patterns reflecting across the waters are fascinating. There are swirls and ripples in the  current (or is that a big fish passing by). Shags, terns, swallows, ducks, seagulls and herons glide up and down the canals searching for food. 


I was captivated by this heron standing ever so obligingly still on the bank until I realised it had old fishing line entangled on its legs and feet. It was so sad to see and I felt quite helpless to assist. It could fly well but when landing it took ages to settle and untangle its feet, having to stand on one leg most of the time. Almost impossible for it to position itself to catch fish in the shallows. 


The very next day, one of the salmon farm workers noticed its predicament and called the DOC rangers.  They arrived a short time later and tried to capture it in a net. Unfortunately that didn’t work either as it kept flying away. The rangers decided to try another approach later.  I was left pondering on the impact on the local wildlife from the trout fishers. Days later, I’m still wondering about the fate of this beautiful bird.

We spent several more days relaxing and enjoying the magic of the canals. I even managed to do some night photography under the dark sky until the fog and clouds rolled in. The lunar eclipse hid  behind those clouds.

And the very next day, along came the hoar frost.  Spectacular icicles covered the trees and tussocks. It was very pretty and also very cold.  It was time to move on.

Flooding fortunes

Snow and heavy rain were forecast for the next few days so it was time to start heading homeward  bound. We drove North  to Christchurch and hunkered down for the next few days.  Fortunately for us, we made the right decision as within two days major flooding closed all the roads and  bridges to the South and low-lying areas of Mid and North Canterbury. Had we remained any longer we would have been cut off too.  Even though we were parked up  alongside the Waimakariri River, the stopbanks held  back the waters flooding in our little Kaiapoi campground.  


Further along the coast others were not so lucky. Communities evacuated as rivers  broke their banks. Helicopter rescues as farmers tried to save their stock and got trapped in rapidly rising floodwaters.
Several days later,  the sun came out from the clouds and so did we – back home to the Marlborough Sounds to find Autumn leaves still clinging to the trees. Yet the changing seasons are now upon us here too. 


Farewell to the lazy hazy days of May. 

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2021/05/31/the-changing-seasons-may-2021/

Astrophotography is such a celestial challenge.

All eyes were raised to the dark skies when the lunar eclipse was imminent. There was to be a super blood moon.

“A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow.This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are exactly or very closely aligned with Earth between the other two, which can only happen at a full moon. The eclipsed moon appeared as a faint red disk in the sky due to a small amount of light being refracted through the earth’s atmosphere; this appearance gives a lunar eclipse its nickname of a Blood Moon.” 

Weather forecasts scrutinised.  ✅

Potential locations scoped.✅

Astrophotography techniques researched.✅

SD cards cleared and ready ✅

Camera batteries charged……   ✅

It was nearly time for the big event – the night of the lunar eclipse had arrived.

BUT THEN….  in swirled the fog and cloud cover.  Down plummeted the temperature. Desperation set in and I was so frustrated – why did I choose to stay at Twizel instead of Tekapo?

Deciding that if I didn’t at least try, I wouldn’t see anything at all, so no matter the gloomy forecast, out I went under the foggy and cloudy skies.


I wore many layers of merino jumpers and scarves, thermal tights, a good wind jacket and fingerless gloves.  I even had my hot water bottle wrapped in lambswool at the ready in the car. And my thermal mug filled with turmeric latte.


Arriving at my location, I was not surprised at all to find that no-one else was there – apparently they were all at Lake Tekapo instead.  Sigh!

Undaunted, I set up the tripod and  took a few trial pictures.  Hmmm that cloud cover was a  bit tricky but at least I could see the beautiful moon intermittently ithrough the clouds.  It was still early as yet so there was still a chance it would clear so crossing my cold fingers, I set up the intervalometer and waited.  This was to be my first attempt at capturing a lunar eclipse. As per normal, I had decided on a capturing multiple exposures of each stage of the eclipse – a tad ambitious in hindsight. 

So here are my embarassingly pathetic images. But at least I tried….!

I did manage a few photos of the penumbral and the umbral shadows stage but very foggy so focusing through the clouds was a major issue.  Then the first camera battery died (of the cold).  Changing the battery meant taking the camera off the tripod first so that ruined the continuity of focus and composition. I waited a while and tried again. 


Several images later, the moon had almost reached totality – and you guessed it – the second camera battery also died (of the cold).   Me too, I grumbled to myself. By this time the clouds had almost covered the skies and the temperature had dropped to Minus 4 degrees. I drove back to camp through the ever-increasing fog and drank a comforting glass of red wine (which looked redder thats the Blood Moon).

Bloody Moon

And the very next day:  Social media were filled with images of the penumbral shadows, umbral shadows, partial and totality eclipse. I was very envious. 

But wait – there is another almost total lunar eclipse coming up 19 November 2021…. watch this celestial space!


Sunday stills – Weathering the millennia of wind and waves

Wind and waves have worked their magic and stacked layers of limestone pancakes upon which to feast our eyes. 

One of my favourite geological formations to visit is the Pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki, West Coast NZ. I never get tired of viewing the impressive results of wind, wave and seaspray on the limestone formations of Dolomite Point.


The Pancake Rocks and blowholes

Each ‘pancake’ consists of a layer of limestone layer made up of tiny shell fragments, separated from the next pancake by a thin layer of siltstone. Thousands of years of rain, wind and sea spray have etched the softer siltstone into nearly-horizontal grooves, and rounded the edges of the limestone layers, which together look like giant layers of pancakes.

Dolomite Point has a maze of underground passages and large open caverns which face the sea. When there’s a big swell, and the ocean surges into these caverns, water is forced into the passages. Looking for an escape route it follows the passages to the surface. As high tide approaches huge geysers of spray burst skywards. When there’s a big sea running the blowholes are spectacular.

On this day the tide was high and huge waves were rolling in. Luck was on my side. 

I made many images to try to capture that big geyser of spray. Many moments were spent patiently watching and waiting with my camera at the ready in hopeful expectation that the next surge will bring forth that loud whoosh as the waves rise up through the underground passages and burst high above the pancake rock formations. 


Delighting in seeing the power of both the wind and the salt spray trickling back down through the pancake layers. It is fascinating indeed to see the weathering of the rocks still in action as it has been for thousands of years, creating the astounding formations we see today. 


I first saw these spectacular limestone pancakes more than fifty years ago. Then we revisited them with our young children many times and yes, this was way before the area was upgraded with safety fences and sealed pathways. We allowed our kids to explore those tracks between the layered rocks. Whatever was I thinking? 


Looking down into the Devils cauldron ( as it was known then) it is quite mesmerizing watching the force of the waves. Not the place to fall into. Those crumbling cliffs are quite slippery with the constant sea spray. And yet, it is indeed captivating to watch the swirling wave action.  I was too preoccupied watching where my feet were stepping to take a photo of the devils cauldron this day.

Back home I finally got time to do some editing, here are the results of my weathering topic for the Sunday Stills ‘weather’ week. – It could also be for last week’s ‘water’ theme I guess for which I missed the deadline.

We finished off these few days by parking over at Fox River freedom parking site where the local “Rusty Cup’ coffee cart served us real  pancakes with layers of bacon and banana with lashings of maple syrup for breakfast.  Almost breakfast in bed – lol.  On a side note, I caught up with my work colleague from a few years back – together we had ‘weathered’ many rough and tough work days so it was lovely to catch up and share memories as we ate the pancakes and drank the strong coffee.

All that was left to say is “Pass the maple syrup please!”

Life in colour. April – It’s all about Pink

This month’s colour is Pink

Defined as “A delicate colour that means sweet, nice, playful, cute, romantic, charming, feminine, and tenderness, is associated with bubble gum, flowers, babies, little girls, cotton candy, and sweetness.” 

 My take is a little different….

“Pink isn’t just a color it’s an Attitude too!” ― Miley Cyrus

Grayson Perrys – Pink Harley

Turner prize winning artist Grayson Perry is known for his bizarre crossdressing as his alter ego ‘Claire’ and his even more bizarre, but highly acclaimed art! Not many people know about his kickass motorbike journey where he toured halfway across Europe on a pink madly decorated motorbike carrying his teddybear and childhood hero, Alan Measles, in a glass shrine on the back. A glass shrine? Yes Perry had seen the popemobile and knew his teddybear deserved nothing less than the pope…..  

Fashion or food – or is that fashionable food?

Just a selection of pink foods and drinks devoured during my travels. 


I had never seen pink beer so any excuse to drink or eat a bit more colour into my life.

Or you can just wear pink….


https://traveltalk.me.uk/2021/04/22/life-in-colour-60/

Life in colour – 2021 March- Green

Green is for Go  – so let’s go on a journey along green pathways

Through the mossy green forest…

Mossy tree

After our walk through the forest, we might meander alongside the stream where  fish swim beneath the water lilies…

And splash across and around waterfalls…

Waterfalls

Wondering what is beyond the green gates, we could climb up the stairs ..

Or we can peek through doors to a courtyard which is inviting, cool and green!

Let’s hire a lime e-bike to explore Berlin…

Lime E bikes in Berlin

Maybe look for different greens reflected in the architecture….

Returning back down the path through my favourite leafy foliage

Well – that was a memorable  trip around the world of green. I hope you enjoyed it too.

SundayStills – Some of my Best Black & White Photos

I love black and white photography and I try to aim for the moon. I look for compositions and light that works well for the genre. Here are my offerings.


“Aim for the moon and even if you miss you will land amongst the stars”


Lighting in the landscape  sets the scene for stunning scenery be it stormy or calm waters or even over the top geography of rural roads.

Flowers and vegetables have interesting textures that often work well in black and white.


Sculpted statues are some of my favourite subjects to capture in black and white.  

Sunday Stills – Rainy Day Road Trip

So what do you do when you wake on the first day of a three day holiday and it is raining…? Jump in the car and go on a rainy day road trip, of course.

On the way we found a wet sheep and a rusty old broken down barn…

The river was raging under the road bridge…

We stopped and splashed across the road to the old Langford store…

At last the rain stopped and we found the rainbow…. a great reward to end our rainy day road trip.

Sunday Stills – Feed the Birds – its all about the birds

I love seeing birds in the wild doing what birds should be doing – flying free and catching their own food – even if they do feast on my fruit trees!

I have captured seabirds catching crabs both at home and on our travels.

Once I fed a big seagull my ice-cream – or rather it stole it by dive-bombing from behind me and knocking the ice-cream from the ice-cream cone. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry but the amused onlookers thought it was hilarious.  Needless to say, I didn’t get that photo – just a big fright!  Does that count as feeding the birds?

Seagul. 

I was so excited to see a hummingbird for the first time when in Oklahoma a few years back.  The feeder attracted this one long enough for me to capture this image

Hummingbird

Taking time out to feed the sparrows in Paris  

Feeding frenzy

My own bird feeder

Bird feeder

I love walking along a local pathway alongside the beach to find the baby shags being fed .

So although watching the wild birds in their natural habitat is my preference, I have a friend who cares for rescue birds like this cockatoo.  Sam the cockatoo likes to choose her own cookie.  I’m not sure if it is the pink colour she was attracted to or the little seed-like sugar bits. She is quite a character and whilst she no longer flies, she can climb freely and loves being fed in this tree.  She has been known to  climb too high sometimes so her caregiver pretends to drive away and down she scrambles.  

SundayStills – Color Challenge: Rosy Red

Not all that is red are flowers. This really was a challenge for me.

Red is not my favourite colour and I find it tricky to photograph its true colour so I couldn’t find too many in my archives. As I’m not able to hold my camera whilst wearing a sling, this is as good as it gets this week. 

A very red grand piano – this beautiful instrument was provided to the people of Christchurch not long after the devastating earthquakes so they could play and/or enjoy some inspiring amidst the chaos.

Roses are red – and so are petunias and begonias

Fungi can also offer some reds in Autumn when life is not always rosy and colourful.

And here is my taonga/ treasure -my pounamu/greenstone “The spirit of life” I keep it in my little kit (flax bag) adorned with rosy red feather when I’m not wearing it. It brings me balance.

Te Hau Ora – Spirit of life