DP Photo Challenge: atop

View of Kaipara Harbour, from Atiu Creek Regional Park, Tapora, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

View of the Oruawharo River and Kaipara Harbour from Atiu Creek Regional Park, Tapora, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

There is a hint of autumn in the air. Auckland’s oppressive humidity has disappeared and I feel invigorated enough for long walks.

View of the Kaipara Harbour from Atiu Creek Regional Park, Tapora, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Tauhoa River, Kaipara. Seen from Atiu Creek Regional Park, Tapora, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Atiu Creek Regional Park covers over 800 hectares of bush, farm and wetlands north of Auckland with walking, cycling and horse-trekking trails criss crossing the landscape.

The park was gifted to Auckland in 2006 by owners Pierre and Jackie Chatelanat, who wanted to protect it from development and allow people to enjoy its beauty.

Views from atop the parks many hills are panoramic and stunning.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | atop

The Changing Seasons: February 2017

Cows and a bull grazing on a hillside against brilliant blue sky. Seen on the Awhitu Peninsula, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Another roadside attraction … Seen on the Awhitu Peninsula, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Big T was overseas for 18 of February’s 28 days, so it was a raggedy month where life’s normal rhythms skipped a bit.

A growing disaffection with Auckland’s rampant urbanisation, overcrowding and endless traffic congestion has driven me (at painfully low speed) from the city as often as I could get away. Trips to Karekare, the Awhitu Peninsula, the Waikato and even the Helensville A&P Show are all part of a quest to reconnect with the parts of Aotearoa New Zealand that the Big T and I love and feel connected to.

This post is my contribution to The Changing Seasons, a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

“The heart asks pleasure first” … when music shows us nature’s beauty

Karekare Beach, NZ. Clouds and cliffs reflected in wet sand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Evening; Karakare Beach, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

With about 15,000 km of coastline (for a landmass of 268,021 km²), New Zealand does beaches pretty well. But even by our standards, Karakare Beach on Auckland’s west coast is quite spectacular.

North end, Karekare Beach, NZ. Sky, clouds and cliffs reflected in wet sand. Image, Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

North end, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image, Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Enjoying the last of the light, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Enjoying the last of the light, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Sun seting on shoreline, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Sunset, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

For those of you who have seen Jane Campion‘s 1993 film, The Piano, Karekare is the beach where Ada and her daughter are abandoned with the piano. That scene is often remembered because of the music from Michael Nyman‘s beautiful soundtrack — ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First.’

Close your eyes and listen. In your mind, you will be transported to Karekare.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.


NB: The title of Michael Nyman’s piece comes from Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same name.

Imagining a past for the cabin by the river

Abandoned cabin, Waikato River at Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Slightly sinister? Abandoned cabin, Waikato River at Aka Aka. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

In our travels recently, the Big T and I discovered an abandoned cabin, floating on pontoons in marshland on the edge of the Waikato River. Some windows are boarded up, and others broken, but the cabin doesn’t look at though it’s been long abandoned.

It sits a short way from the end of a narrow country road, just visible from the road. A walking track leads toward the river and passes close by the cabin; floating slightly crookedly on its pontoons.

I’d love to know the story behind this little building, but will probably have to content myself  imagining stories about it; re-editing the image to change the content and mood of my stories.

Abandoned cabin, Waikato River at Aka Aka. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Forlorn and long abandoned? Cabin floating in marshland, Waikato River at Aka Aka. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Aged monochrome image of abandoned cabin, Waikato River at Aka Aka. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Slightly more gothic? A winter’s tale of loss and disillusionment. Cabin, Waikato River at Aka Aka. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

All in the artist's mind? Or remembrance of a long-gone childhood haunt? Abandoned cabin on the Waikato River at Aka Aka. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and PhotoLab.

All in the artist’s mind? Or remembrance of a long-gone childhood haunt? Abandoned cabin on the Waikato River at Aka Aka. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and PhotoLab.

This week’s brief for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge is to experiment with photo-editing and processing.

You can find out more about the challenges at Lens and Pens by Sally.

 

 

A different kind of traffic jam

Sheep on the road during muster, Glen Murray, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Moving sheep for shearing, near Waingaro, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Big T and I escaped the city yesterday to explore the back roads to Raglan. It’s a beautiful, very rural part of the country, but even there we couldn’t escape a traffic jam.

Moving the sheep for shearing. Near Waingaro, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Waiting for the sheep to pass. Near Waingaro, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

It’s shearing time, and local farmers were moving stock to the shearing shed.

Sheep surrounding car, near Waingaro, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Shearing time, near Waingaro, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

We’d already struggled through an Auckland gridlock to leave the city, but the four-legged traffic was much easier to bear, and way more entertaining.

Close encounters of the bird kind (sorry, really, I couldn’t resist)

Close-up shot of juvenile NZ falcon named Hisan, at the Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hisan, a juvenile NZ falcon. Seen at the Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre in Rotorua has been on my list of places to visit for a while, and last weekend the Big T and I finally got there.

The Centre was established out of a commitment by a group of individuals to preserve the native NZ falcon, or Karearea, and other threatened native birds of prey.

Wingspan supports wild populations directly by releasing captive bred falcons and rehabilitating injured wild birds. Through research and advocacy, Wingspan also supports long-term sustainable conservation action by identifying the reasons for the decline in wild populations and promoting action to reverse this. — Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre

As well as aviaries for the birds currently being bred, rehabilitated or permanently cared for, the Centre also has a fascinating collection of falconry items in its museum.

Juvenile Karearea (NZ Falcon) resting on falconer's gauntlet at Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Roytorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

A snack while the audience assembles. Hisan the Karearea eating rabbit held in the falconer’s gauntlet. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hisan the Karearea snacking on rabbit at the Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Making short work of it. Hisan the Karearea snacking on rabbit. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hisan, juvenile Karearea, at Wingpsan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie

Hisan, juvenile Karearea, at Wingpsan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie

But the highlight of a visit to Wingspan is watching a flying display. I confess I’m always dubious about attractions that seem to involve “performing” animals, but at Wingspan, the focus is on the bird’s welfare and development. We were told that Hisan, the juvenile Karearea we saw, is a good candidate for release into the wild. But for that to happen, the Centre staff need to be sure he has the skills to survive. So while Hisan’s afternoon flight sessions are highly entertaining for watching humans, they are vital to his development and well-being.

NZ falcon at Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, held by staff member during display. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

An explanation to the audience before Hisan was released. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hisan, juvenile Karearea, getting ready for flight at Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Ready for take-off. Image” Su Leslie, 2016

We were told that Hisan’s flights were becoming longer and taking him further from “home” — signs of his maturity. It meant quite a lot of waiting around for us, but I felt much better knowing that Hisan’s welfare wasn’t being compromised for our entertainment.

Hisan, a juvenile Karearea in flight at Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hisan in flight. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Karearea eating meat attached to falconer's lure, Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Caught! Hisan devouring the meat attached to the falconer’s lure. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Heidi, Hisan’s trainer, swung a feathered lure on a long rope to attract Hisan back to her. His skills are developed by intercepting the lure while it’s airborne.

Juvenile Karearea, at Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Image: Su Leslie, 2016

When Hisan returned to his trainer, everyone in the audience was able to don the gauntlet and experience this beautiful bird up close.

Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre falcon trainer readies the gauntlet on a boy's hand to attract Hisan. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Baiting the gauntlet with meat for Hisan. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The Big T with Hisan. Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The Big T with Hisan. Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Both the Big T and I are still raving about our afternoon at the Wingspan Centre. We loved that it provided a really down-to-earth, interesting visitor experience in an environment that is fundamentally about conserving a beautiful native species of bird which is threatened by loss of habitat and other forces.

News Flash: in the last couple of days, Hisan has made his first kill — an important milestone on the road to his release into the wild.

wingspan-fb-page

Great news from the Wingspan Trust FaceBook page.

The Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre is at:

1164 Paradise Valley Road, Ngongotaha, Rotorua 3072, NZ

Phone +64 7 357 4469

www.wingspan.co.nz