Freezing Sunset – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #4

March 16, 2011 at 12:13 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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When we reached Kaikoura in the late morning, we passed by this whole stretch of beautiful sea that we had to try to stop somewhere to take photos…


I love the intense blue-coloured sky! Hmm…what’s those brown thing in the
sea?


I happened to have just watched David Attenborough‘s Life of Mammals and
recognised these when looking through the binos. Sea Otters were shown
in one of the episodes wrapping themselves in these when they sleep so
as not to be drifted away by the waves. :p These seaweeds are called
kelps
and belong to the brown algae group.
Bull Kelp or rimurapa (Durvillaea
species) is the dominant seaweed of exposed rocky coasts around New
Zealand and the subantarctic islands. Its thick flexible stipe supports a
spongy broad blade that is usually divided into narrow straps


Among the kelps were these big gulls…


Further away was a lone Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos).
They are called the Little Shag in New Zealand

We had to drive off shortly as we needed to check into our motel before going for the whalewatching.

After our ‘sumptuous’ alfresco dinner, Itchyfingers were rejuvenated and decided to go look for some birds to photograph.


The same huge gull we saw earlier. This is thBlack-backed Gull
(Larus dominicanus)
, also known as karoro in New Zealand


Not sure what caused these formation, but they looked beautiful…


More kelps! These can grow to 10metres! They feel a bit rubbery and hard…


Lotsa gulls on the beach! It was getting really cold and windy, but these
guys were just standing around or sitting on the beach or the carpark…


More gulls on the rocky shore…


The
Red-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus scopulinus), Tarapunga or Akiak
in Maori is a fairly small gull with red bill, red eye ring, red legs and feet,
pale grey wings with black wingtips


The juvenile Red-billed Gull has a dark brown bill with only hints of red.
The legs are also brown and there are brown spots on the grey wings. Legs
look duller and the eye rings seem to look darker too


Witnessed a juvenile begging for food from an adult shown here…too bad
I only got a blur shot of the feeding from the back…


From far we saw oystercatchers…Initially we thought the one at the right
was a
Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus finsch) but after
reading through bird guides, I think they might all be the
Variable
Oystercatchers (Haematopus unicolor), so called for their variable
colouration…Actually the difference between the Pied Oystercatcher
and the Variable’s pied phase is really a challenge to differentiate, especially
when they were so far away! :O


Not too long later, the sun started to set…the temperature also got lower…
felt so cold I gotta run back into the car….


But the gulls were still around…


More gulls out in the open…dun they feel cold? My hands were freezing!


Then through my binos, I saw something moving on the rocks far far away…
Seals! Seals  are supposed to be easily spotted here but we only saw their
silhouettes… 😦

As it got colder and darker, we decided that we would come back tomorrow to try our luck…It was such a beautiful but freezing sunset…

PS: Within a year after our visit, New Zealand’s Christchurch suffered two big earthquakes. Itchyfingers feel sad looking at the devastation caused; the numbers of human and animal lives that perished. Never would anyone expect that an even bigger disaster to strike Japan last Friday, 11 March, just days after China’s Yunan earthquake. Mother Nature can be so beautiful and yet fearsome at the same time…Rest in peace, for those unfortunate victims, and for those living, be strong…

Also see related posts:
> Alfresco Dining – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #3
> A Roller Coaster Ride – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #2
> Mass Exodus – Christchurch, New Zealand Trip #1

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