Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

November 25, 2011

A day at the Beach

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 9:43 pm

Sumner Walk.

Yesterday, I went to the outdoor shops looking for a Goretex jacket. My old one is falling apart and is held together with my constant stitching. The only problem was that they were outrageously expensive. The cheapest one was about $300 and that was really thin and crappy. They had a raincoat for $200. What a joke. I think I will just make do with my old jacket until it totally falls apart.

Disillusioned, I found a bus into the city center and grabbed a bus to Sumner, which is on the coast to the east of the city. I went past the estuary of the Avon and Heathcote Rivers. There were some great mud flats with mainly oystercatchers, herons, whimbrel and godwit. I did not have a good look because I did not have my video camera. I will go back in a few days and get some video footage. I got off at Sumner and went for a walk along the beach. I think it was called Scarborough Beach.

Scarborough Beach
Scarborough Beach

Along the beach the cliff had collapsed due to the earthquakes and a few houses had tumbled down the cliff. Maybe it is a little bit problematic building a house at the edge of a cliff in an earthquake zone.

Earthquake damage
Earthquake damage

Early Maori had two main settlements near the estuary. They lived here year-round, taking advantage of the plentiful supply of eels, fish and shellfish. Maori used to wade the shallow water of the estuary to fish for flounder by the light of torches, using pronged wooden spears called matarau. The fish were stored for winter food and exchanged with other settlements. Shag Rock is a column of rock guarding the entrance to the Avon-Heathcote estuary.

Shag Rock
Shag Rock

Further down the estuary, Moncks Bay is an excellent site for observing birds at high tide. As the tide falls the first feeding grounds emerge. Estuary birds feed from varying depths. In this way many similar species can live side by side without competing for food. Across the water is Brighton Spit, where roosting birds can be seen at low tide. Birds seen in the estuary may include Little Shag, Pied Shag, Black Shag, Spotted Shag, White-faced Heron, New Zealand Kingfisher, Welcome Swallow, Pied and Variable Oystercatcher, Black-backed Gull, Red-billed Gull, White-fronted Tern, Caspian Tern and Bar-tailed Godwit.

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