New Year’s Eve

-For some reason, I have to say, I’ve never really grasped the concept of the ‘celebration’ of passing from December 31 in one year to 01 January the following year.

I’m not anti party, and a good excuse to indulge in a tad of fun, mirth and frivolity is all good by me.  But, to make such a big deal about one more sleep, well, it just hasn’t firmed up enough to be a conviction. As Thoreau once wrote on another subject, “Moreover, I have tried it fairly, and, strange as it may seem, am satisfied that it does not agree with my constitution”.

So EE and I pondered our options.   Get on the train, got to the city and with hundreds of thousands of other like-minded folk, watch fire works, sing a Scottish song about times and seasons, and then fight for a seat on the train home, and get to bed by 4:00am.
Option 2.  Sit at home to watch it on the telly.
Option 3. Join in the street party celebrations that our neighbourhood party dudes had invited us to.
Option 4. Drink bubbly, eat food, and hopefully stay awake until “the Witching hour” with some people who seem to think a good time must include bubbly.
Option 5. Hang about around a table with some locals, consume way too much alcohol and ‘See which one of us can tell the biggest lies” —Cold Chisel.

Or perhaps, we could pack a picnic, throw in the deckchairs and go look for birds at Outlet 145W in the Treatment Plant.

Done. Why didn’t we think of it earlier.

With a minimum of planning that is the way went.
145W can be a great place for waders as the outflow has created quite a large flat sandy stretch that has room for thousands of waders.

So I came to the conclusion that sitting on a deckchair, listening to the wavelets lapping on the edge of the sand, the waders all chirping in the background and chatting with my very best friend as we watched the sun sink on the horizon, and the waders fly up and down did in fact, “Agree with my consitution”.

I’ve shown inflights from 145W on the blog before, and a couple of summers back, my Flickr mate Lynzwee sat on the same rocks and we used up several batteries and memory cards between us as the birds moved back and forth.

We managed this time to get to the beach right on low tide, and from there a constant stream of waders moved through the area as the tide turned.
Firstly, the little short-legged Red-necked Stints, then as the water rose a few millimetres, the Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Curlew Sandpipers moved in. The tide came in more, and the next group were Red-necked Avocet.  And a little later the longer-legged Pied Stilts took over.

I sat on the rocks of the outlet, it divides the beach into two. Flat areas either side.  The birds having flown 13,000km to get here for the summer, are not adverse to flying a couple of hundred metres along the beach for better feeding opportunities and fly right by the end of the outflow. Straight into my lens 🙂
Well if it were that easy anyone could do it.

These little dudes put on a turn of speed as they go by, and as they are so close getting them in the viewfinder and keeping them there is a challenge.
But fun.

So while others oohed and ahhed with fireworks, or bubbly, or sang songs, I watched—with my kinderd spirit— a parade of well-travelled birds enjoy the evening light.



Mixed Flock


Here’s some Red-necked Stints




Sharp-tailed Sandpipers





Curlew Sandpipers

Red-necked Avocets

Funny old thing is Serendipity

“the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way”

The weather map showed a large high stalled over us for most of the day.  “Let’s do an evening at the Western Treatment Plant”, saith, I. “We could take down the picnic, and have a fine old evening watching the sunset over the bay, and maybe photograph a few birds, and well, just enjoy the evening sea breeze.  What thinkest thou?”.

A call to Mr An Onymous, and the famed, and legendary “Blackmobile” was on the highway loaded with his fine repast. EE and I decided on a Peri-Peri Chicken Salad, and a round of Earl of Grey.

Pied Oystercatcher
Pied Oystercatcher


Continue reading “Funny old thing is Serendipity”

Wandering WTP with Lindsay

My Flickr Mate  Lindsay,  Lynz Wee  was down for his annual pilgrimage to the Western Treatment Plant.

He came in for a Friday jaunt, but, the weather had other ideas and we had 3 DAYS of Total Fire Ban.  And WTP is closed on such days.  So, he had to ‘cool his heels’, (can’t believe I wrote that about 40+ C days.)

We managed an afternoon on Monday.  Started out good weather and promised a low tide around dusk, so all was set for an interesting day.   One thing about driving about with Lindsay, there is never a dull moment and the conversation crackled back and forth at at right royal pace.  Even managed a few stops for photography.

After a late afternoon tea-break at The Borrow Pits we headed back to a spot on 145W Outflow.  The tide runs out well here and the sand-mud flats expose quickly and it can be a good place for the odd wader or so.

We settled in, and at first there was only a handful of the usual suspects and a squadron or two of Silver Gull.

“Must have my wader repellant on,” quoth he.   “Give it time, once the tide goes out a bit they’ll come by”, reassured I, and wondering where else we might travel to find something.
More time passed and the gulls were now in flotilla formation and numbers.  “Must be Gull attractor I’m wearing”, quips he.

We also had a sneaking suspicion that a White-bellied Sea-eagle would put in an appearance, but I guess the bird didn’t know of our appointment.

Then from down the coast a dark swirling cloud began to mass up.  And we are talking dark, swirling.

The closer it came the more birds joined in, until, like one of those video clips you see of England or Naples, a veritable murmuration began to take shape. And still they kept coming. The speed of the turns, and the flashing dark/white shapes and the beauty of the sweeping masses was a sight to behold.

It’s impossible to describe and impossible to show visually with only a long lens that picks out just a small part of the hoard that made its way to the sandbar. Things were looking up in the wader department.

Thousand of Stints and Sandpipers and a host of other waders all swept across the sky. Literally from horizon to horizon.

“How’s that”, I cried.  But he was too busy running the Canon at 10 frames per second, not missing any of the action.  Then they settled on the exposed mudflats and began their meal.  Within minutes the area only metres from our tripod legs were hundreds of busy little feeders.  Not caring about the human presence, they simply tucked in.
And it was all going so well, until.  “My battery is flat, have to go back and get another”.
And so we trekked back to the car.  Only to find EE waving frantically at us, and pointing, so  we good naturedly waved back. And chatted about what we’d just witnessed, and how EE has probably been photographing all sorts of good things while we were otherwise engaged, including of course the Elusive Sea-eagle.

When we got there, it was, “Did you see the Sea-eagle????  I was waving out to you, it nearly went right over your heads!!!”.
NO!!!  Well it didn’t matter anyway as the Canon battery was flat.   But….

Here is a few frames to try and capture the way the gathering gathered in.

I only had the long lens on board, so this really just an small section, think 20 or more times to get the real feel.

Just a tiny portion of the huge numbers of birds that came down to feed.
Just a tiny portion of the huge numbers of birds that came down to feed.

_DWJ5584 _DWJ5588 _DWJ5590

Settling in, there is hardly space between birds.
Settling in, there is hardly space between birds.
Can only begin to imagine what it looks like when they are migrating to and from Siberia.
Can only begin to imagine what it looks like when they are migrating to and from Siberia.