You may have noticed that I disappeared for a week. I took off with two friends from Marlborough (Liz & Emily), down to Lake Hawea. These two friends are also photographically mad, I would say on par or slightly worse than myself. The focus of the trip was... photography. Especially the Lupins which were at their best at this time of the year, flowering on the side of the road from Burke's Pass just out of Geraldine, right along to Lake Wanaka (and probably beyond but that's as far as we got!)
The Lupins seem to have been introduced in 1958, and it has been suggested that tour bus drivers deliberately spread sees of the plant to promote colourful roadside vegetation in areas which some tourists may consider to be rather drab. It certainly dresses up the countryside at this time of the year with the most amazing colours, and it is a huge international tourist attraction. However, they do threaten indigenous species, especially when it invades the braided river beds.
We left Marlborough at about midday, and our first stop was the seals at Ohau Point on the Kaikoura Coast. Liz and Emily did the walk to the seal pups, however because of my painful ankle, I stayed near the car and sat on a rock in the and soaked up the vistas and visitors.
My first visitor arrived to eye up the cracker I was eating... I loved the way the wind ruffled his feathers. I was determined to ignore the plea in his eye and to enjoy the whole cracker myself....
From my rock I spied a New Zealand Fur Seal soaking up the sun. I hope it was wearing sunblock!
From my rock this is the view of the rocky coastline. There is a seal swimming in the water. Can you see it?
Also from my rock is this view up the coastline. I loved the clouds! And the Blue Sky! And the fresh Air! And the Sun! It was so nice being outdoors.
I gave in and started giving the gulls small bits of my crackers. Only to get closer photographic opportunities though. Using my macro lens I was able to get quite a few close up shots...
Gulls are scavengers. I was reminded of this by this gull, who had obviously been in a feeding frenzy somewhere and was then too interested in crackers to clean himself up!
I love this image as the eye almost looks unreal, as if he has a glass eye.
These gulls are the Red Billed Gulls and are native to New Zealand. They can be found all over the country. It is a fairly small gull with an all red bill, red eye ring, red legs and feet, pale grey wings with black wingtips. Quite a striking bird. The rest of its body is white, which makes them hard to photograph in sunny conditions as it's easy to overexpose the feathers. There is virtually no visual difference between the male and female birds. Immature gulls have a dark brown bill with only hints of red.
Once the crackers had run out this is what they did...
I'm always amazed that they can sniff out even the smallest portion of cracker in my hand and hang around for it, even if I'm semi hiding it.Their eyesight must be amazing.
And then they tell the other gulls it's 'mine' 'mine' 'mine' and get all aggressive.
Their raucousness attracts the others that come flying in. Great opportunities to get birds in flight!
We made one more stop in Kaikoura at some public toilets, but I found a great house over the road that was run down and dilapidated, yet the garden was flowering like mad. Springtime and early summer is great for macro photographers!!! We were asked what we were doing, and on telling them we were just photographing the flowers, we were told that a 'strange' man lived there.
These flowers were tiny amongst the blades off grass
I was in macro heaven and found some sort of fly which I haven't been able to identify yet.
A shot of the mountain as we were leaving....
We then drove straight to Geraldine not stopping for any more photographs as we didn't want to be too late. The GPS took us through a 'short cut' to the farm that we were staying in. This meant we had to cross a ford, which was fortunately dry. However had it been raining, there is no way the van could have taken us through there as it looks like the river would be very swift in flood. My GPS is not reliable sometimes, even though its set for 'main roads', it doesn't always do as its told!