Thursday, 4 December 2014

Drive to Farewell Spit

Today we decided to get up to the far north of the South Island and check out the Marlborough wine country, Abel Tasman National Park, Golden Bay and Farewell Spit.

A long day of driving with not much birding but Jo did manage to find a 'field of gulls' just as we were leaving Picton. There was nowhere nearby to park so I dropped Jo off and came back to pick her up a few minutes later. She did well capturing the scene with her pocket compact camera!

Black-backed Gull, Picton, Marlborough NZ
(photos courtesy of Joanne Smissen)

Gulls seem to fill the corvid ecological niche in New Zealand. They are commonly found in agricultural land feeding on pastures and in crops as well as their more traditional and expected locations around the coast.

On the drive around Golden Bay we stopped at Milnthorpe Park, just south of Collingwood, for a look at the sand flats at low tide. There were plenty of birds out at the water's edge but as this was approximately a kilometre away and with storms approaching we opted not to hike out onto the sand flats. The heat haze did make for some interesting long-distance photographs of oystercatchers.

South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Milnthorpe Park, Tasman NZ
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/5.6 1/2000

including another pair of Variable Oystercatchers with chicks.

Variable Oystercatcher, Milnthorpe Park, Tasman NZ
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/5.6 1/1250

Back at the car park, a Song Thrush sat for a few seconds on a well-placed rock.

Song Thrush, Milnthorpe Park, Tasman NZ
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/5.6 1/1000

When we finally made it to Farewell Spit it was foggy and raining so no great views of the spit but I did manage a few shots of the beach in the storm

Farewell Spit, Tasman NZ
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 35 mm, ISO 400, f/9 1/640
Farewell Spit, Tasman NZ
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 35 mm, ISO 400, f/9 1/800

and my other passion in photography...ambiguous signs...

Farewell Spit, Tasman NZ
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 35 mm, ISO 400, f/5.6 1/800

The stormy weather did provide some great views as we drove back up the Takaka Valley. For landscape photography, there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad weather-proofing.

Takaka Valley, Tasman NZ
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 85 mm, ISO 400, f/8 1/1000

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