Changing harbour an eye opener
Friday, 17 June 2011
By Crispin Caldicott
How often do we realise that a minor change can produce a completely different perspective?
Many of us are very used to one or two aspects of the Manukau, but having been at several different points on the harbour in recent months I was struck by just how different each place seems.
As that lovely weather at Queen’s Birthday weekend proved to us, you only need to move a mile or two round its enormous shore to see a whole new harbour.
We visited my mum-in-law who lives in that tiny backwater of Weymouth.
It is a series of little old baches, undiscovered as yet by the real estate fraternity so the swanky mansion conversion has not really begun. Yet it has a distinct appeal.
She is very close to the beach, and for a couple of hours each side of high tide, swimming is possible.
We went for a short walk along the shells and shingle and I was struck by how different the Manukau Harbour can look.
At low tide, it can seem somewhat dull, grey and uninteresting.
Yet somehow, with the sea gently lapping at our feet, the area seemed to come alive with a vibrancy of colour and space its proximity to the airport should belie.
Looking due west from Weymouth beach the view unfolds across miles of sea to the fabulous backdrop of the Awhitu Peninsula and the Waitakere ranges.
With curtains of rain, and big puffy clouds above, it reminded me of scenes in the highlands and islands of Scotland.
But there, in mid winter, a similar such expedition would be undertaken only in heavy-weight clothing and wellingtons.
The sheer balminess of our day served as a constant reminder of just how lucky we are with both our climate and our scenery.
As we soaked up the sunshine and peace, yet another reminder we were very much closer to the equator than anywhere in Scotland flew past in the form of a skein of Spoonbills.
Funnily enough I have only ever seen them in this country on the Manukau, both times in flight and heading in exactly the same direction – toward the airport.
I guess the absence of reported ingestions means they know to give it a wide enough berth.
Of course, peace, tranquillity and beauty – things at which we humans can excel in the best of circumstances, don’t necessarily belong to all the other beings sharing our planet.
Our dogs are due to spend three weeks in the care of Granny later in the year, so forays to her tend to involve “acclimatisation” visits.
| Mother Kippa (left) and son Theo enjoying their 'acclimatisation visits'. |
They both love the beach but Theo has suddenly developed traits we did not anticipate.
The gulls and oystercatchers standing on the rocks, with their toes, as it were, just covered were too much for him, and he bounded after them.
He hadn’t realised that shallow water can become deep, so every now and again, he found himself bereft of terra firma, and obliged to prove he had water spaniel somewhere in his makeup.
It was mill-pond calm, so he was never in any danger, and the birds had plenty of warning to move on – not that he probably had any clear idea of what to do if he reached them.
Secretly I rather hoped a bad-tempered gull would give him wallop across the nose. That would have learned him, good and proper!
Maybe to prevent him being a damn nuisance in the future, we’ll have to dress up one of our chooks in gull feathers – or get a gull to masquerade as a chook. He’s always shown the greatest respect to the chooks.....at least when we are around.