Flying high

img_4523 Paraglider with backing group of gannets; Muriwai Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2018

I’m not great with heights (or danger), so while part of me would love to experience the world the way that flying birds do, I don’t think I’ll be signing up for any of the adventure sports that involve hurling myself off a cliff with some ropes and a big hankie to keep me safe.

Posted to One Word Sunday | aerial

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Bird-watching

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Gannets, Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Despite an abundance of native birds (mainly tui, kereru and fantails) nesting around my neighbourhood, I’m generally not great at capturing photos of them.

The gannet colony at Muriwai is another story though. With many thousands of birds nesting on the cliffs, it’s inevitable that some will build their nests close to the walkway. They seem very relaxed about the hordes of humans who come to gawk at them, though I suspect that’s mainly because we flightless ones seem reasonably capable of staying behind the fence.

Breeding season has begun again for the gannets, and I will undoubtedly spend some early mornings clutching my camera and enjoying the sight of these majestic birds.

And I’m overdue for another visit to the wonderful Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust, which does such great work helping to ensure the survival of New Zealand’s native birds of prey. Hisan, the juvenile karearea, or falcon, shown above was photographed almost two years ago and will have flown off from his perch one day and not returned. Hopefully to make a home, and breed, somewhere in the forests nearby.

Posted to the Ragtag Daily Promt | bird

 

 

DP Photo Challenge: friend, take 2

The Big T and I spent quite a lot of time this last summer at the Muriwai gannet colony.  Although these gannets don’t necessarily mate for life, breeding pairs do share incubation and chick-care duties.

Watching the interactions between these magnificent birds, it is hard not to project human friendship traits onto their behaviour.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | friend.

DP Photo Challenge: Anticipation, take 1

Gannet guarding an egg. Seen a few weeks ago at the Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Gannet guarding an egg. Seen at the Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, October 2016. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

During the last couple of months, the Big T and I have made a few trips out to the Muriwai gannet colony to watch these amazing birds during their nesting season.

We’ve just made our first visit in a few weeks; anticipating the arrival of chicks. We weren’t disappointed. In fact, it seems that most probably hatched not long after our last visit.

All over the cliff-faces there are adult gannets jostling for space in their shallow nests with fast-growing off-spring. Some seem to be nearly as large as their parents, but are still covered in gorgeous white down.

Adult gannet with chick. Seen at Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Adult gannet with chick. Seen December 2016 at the Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The chicks are born bald, and develop their white down over a period of about a month. This is replaced over following weeks with distinctive, speckled, plumage. After about four months in the nest, they take off — flying to the east coast of Australia where they remain for several years before attempting the flight back to the colony to find a mate and breed. It’s estimated that even in a good year, only about 25 percent of the birds return safely to New Zealand (Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Gannets: Life History and Feeding)

This post is a contribution to the Daily Post Photo Challenge. This week the theme is anticipation.

 

DP Photo Challenge: magic, take 1

Close-up shot of gannet in flight, Muriwai, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

Gannet airborne, Muriwai, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

For we earth-bound humans, can there be anything more magical than flight?

Close up shot of gannet taking off from colony, Muriwai, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Gannet taking off from colony, Muriwai, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Silhouetted against the evening sky, gannets at the Muriwai Gannet Colony, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Silhouetted against the evening sky, gannets at the Muriwai Gannet Colony, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

A little bit of nature’s magic, for the Daily Post Photo Challenge.

The Changing Seasons, October 2016

Perched on a rock above the Tasman Sea, one of the colony of gannets currently nesting at Muriwai, New Zealand. Close up shot of single gannet grooming itself.Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Perched on a rock above the Tasman Sea, one of the colony of gannets currently nesting at Muriwai, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Perhaps it’s the improving weather, but October has definitely been a more active month than I’ve had recently — dodgy knee notwithstanding.

A still morning at Greenhithe Wharf. Looking up Lucas Creek towards Albany.Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Early morning, Greenhithe Wharf. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Although there has been plenty of rain, it has seemed less relentless and the lowering cloud formations have often been photo-worthy.

Still water and lowering clouds at Otarawao Bay (Sullivans Bay), Mahurangi Regional Park, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

A quiet afternoon at Otarawao Bay, Mahurangi Regional Park, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Under the gathering clouds. Mt Ruapehu from the Desert Road, Central North Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Under the gathering clouds. Mt Ruapehu from the Desert Road, Central North Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I’ve managed to escape the city a few times this month; for a couple of afternoons exploring local(ish) beaches, and a road-trip to Whanganui to visit my dad and do a glass-art workshop.

Mahuia Rapids, with Mt Ruapehu in the background. Tongariro National Park, North Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Mahuia Rapids, with Mt Ruapehu in the background. Tongariro National Park, North Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

There are plenty of signs that spring is truly here; baby ducklings seen at Otarawao Bay, and nesting gannets at the Muriwai gannet colony.

Ducklings and adult duck. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Family outing, Otarawao Bay, Mahurangi Regional Park, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Close-up shot of nesting gannets, Muriwai gannet colony, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Nesting gannets, Muriwai gannet colony, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I love glass as an art-form and have long wanted to try my hand at some sort of creative glass-based activity.

Whanganui-based artist David Traub runs one day workshops in glass slumping and fusing — both techniques within the capabilities of beginners.

Over the course of the day, we made two brooches/pendants, two slumped bowls and a glass tile.

Coloured glass pieces laid into a mould lined with kiln paper. This is the first stage in making a fused glass tile. There is no real way of knowing how it will look when the glass rods and shards melt in the kiln. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Before. Making a fused glass tile was a total pitch in the dark. We laid coloured glass pieces into a mould lined with kiln paper, having no real idea how it would look when the glass rods and shards melted in the kiln. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Fused glass tile. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

After. Quietly pleased with the result. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Decorated glass disk ready for the kiln. This will slump over the mould and become a very handy little bowl. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Decorated glass disk ready for the kiln. This will slump over the mould and become a very handy little bowl. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The pendants aren’t quite finished — I have to glue on the bails, but the bowls have already been put to use. One of the advantages of the improving weather being that the Big T and I can enjoy a beer outdoors while bemoaning the size of the lawn we have to mow (ok, he generally does it), and planning our escape from wrong-sized living.

Slumped glass bowls holding nuts and olives. Perfect for pre-dinner snacks. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Perfect for holding pre-dinner snacks. Slumped glass bowls, decorated with glass powders. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

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!