Drifting Around on a Bike

We watched a harrier hawk floating up high above the Waimea River while on a bike ride out to Brightwater a few weeks ago. A black-backed seagull came into view and then suddenly the gull flew straight for the harrier causing it to swerve out of the way, but the harrier kept on its patrol seemingly unperturbed until another gull joined the fray. The harrier continued its circling flight but now it was continually  harassed by the attacking gulls.  Gradually, at the gulls’ consistent dive bombing flights, the harrier moved away out of sight. No doubt the gulls had a nesting site below on the river bed. Maybe the harrier had spotted the gull eggs but no feed this time. 

Coming back over the swingbridge I spotted a Welcome Swallow fly out from under the bridge. Wandering over to have a look, and sure enough a pair of swallows had started making a nest under the structure. A look seven days later and the nest was finished. In building the nest and somehow getting it to fix to a timber beam in this case, is quite something. It is certainly secure against the likes of pest cats and just hope the young can fly well enough to keep clear of their later. 

A Welcome Swallow’s nest in the making.
A Welcome Swallows finished nest.

Walking the new bike trail from Wakefield

Bark ‘formation’ on kanuka trees along the banks of the Wai iti River bike trail.

Early November went on another bike ride from Wakefield, South along a new section of the Great Taste Trail was good but I didn’t like the last part along the main highway South. It’s not that far though and one can continue on through the old rail tunnel, right out to Kohatu. Eventually one will be able to ride a full circle of  the 175km or so long trail, to back home. Not in one day though!

Rising Sea Levels? Climate Change?

Another time we biked out to and around Monaco. In Nelson that is! It’s a peninsular nearby the airport and the houses are about 150mm to 400mm above sea level. High tide comes over the road in a couple of places.  

I’m picking that some who rave about sea level rise will be taking photos to prove that point, not mentioning that this is normal here. There are other areas around the estuary and along the coast that have people erecting new buildings who obviously have been issued building permits (or consents as they call them now a days) but don’t seem to be worried at all. 

Monaco road at high tide. A normal sea level.
Monaco road at high tide. A normal sea level.

So much for being concerned about rising sea levels! Anyway, climate change has been going on from earth’s beginnings but there is no excuse for contaminating where we live. A good start would be to limit population growth and of course to plant trees – and we have planted exactly 1000 trees this season! So instead of parading up and done, waving flags and yelling, we have been busy. Since 2002, we have planted a total of 10,078 trees in all.

 Under Crusader

The view from a high point, N Branch Pokororo Stream, looking over the Waimea Plains towards home, way over the other side, under those far a way ‘hills’.

This was a walk on a private farm in the shadow of Crusader. Crusader is a mountain or peak, of which the shape or outline is very distinctive on our Western mountain skyline.  We travelled towards the Kahurangi National Park but turned off onto a farm road from the North Branch of the Pokororo Stream. It was a narrow valley but soon we were climbing up a farm road to reach a high point with a great view of the surrounding countryside all the way to our home. It was very windy though and we all retreated to a sheltered spot for lunch. 

I called this young goat out from the bush when walking on the farm by the North Branch Pokororo Stream.

On the way back the bleating of goats were heard. I guess we disturbed a family group but one youngster got left behind and started calling. I couldn’t resist in trying to entice it closer and sure enough, the goat came right out in front of me only a few yards away. 

This reminded me when  many years ago in doing pest control (shooting goats) for the Department of Conservation, I would call up some young goats and then get my children to catch them. What for? Well, I used to get requests from people who wanted a goat for their property but when I found out that they would have the goat on a chain to eat the grass on their road frontage, I stopped doing that. In the meantime, we caught two kids but the person wanting them turned me down so we had them at home for several weeks. My kids lavished attention on them and even took them for walks down to the local shop. The goat kids followed my kids just like dogs to the shops, much to the astonishment to other passes by! 

Up The Baton

On the swingbridge Will looks down on the Batton River .

In 1855 John Salisbury discovered several hundred acres of grassy land in what is known now as the Baton Valley. But to get stock into the area, twenty miles of track cutting was required and to help with this was a runaway sailor by the name of Batteyn Norton. While cutting the track, traces of gold were found which resulted in a bit of a gold rush by 1859. The  Baton Hotel was built and licensed in 1867-68. After the hotel was burnt down, people dug up the ground and found gold that had fallen through cracks when gold was being weighed across the counter. The new owners of today have rebuilt a pretty close replica of the old hotel as their home on the old hotel site. They are from overseas and live in the house when they visit. 

Part of the area has a gold claim.

We followed a farm road upstream besides the river, over farmland to reach the Kahurangi National Park boundary and into the park itself to come to an old swingbridge across the river. Over the bridge the track continues well into the park. We turned around, found a nice spot in the bush and had lunch. 

On the walk back we called into an old hut and the owners asked us inside. They were the holders of a gold claim for the area and explained the methods they used to find the gold. It seemed like they at least made a living doing this but one never knows these things when it comes to gold!

Inside the gold miners hut.

Back along the track to call in to visit the replica hotel and to hear from the caretaker about the building and materials used. By the way, the house and farm is privately owned  (we had arranged and had permission to visit) but there is public access to the National Park.  

The replica Baton Hotel.

Rainfall for October was 110mm (monthly average 136mm). So far this year (to the end of October) we have had 914mm and with our yearly rainfall average being 1359mm it looks like we might be about 300mm short. Not too bad as our lowest yearly rainfall has been 830mm in 2015. 

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