Topic: Fauna - Gibbs' Fishing Point
This includes the MacKenzies’ farm of which the Gibbs’ Fishing Point is a part of.
4 February 2001
This shows some wind sheared pohutukawas and other scrubby vegetation atop a spectacular cliff that I call the Wall.
27 April 2002
PHO2008-859, PHO2008-860, HO2008-865
PHO2008-859 and 860 show the severe effects of wave spray induced erosion on the vegetation at Gibbs’ Fishing Point. PHO2008-865 shows that reeds and ice plants are some of the few plants tough enough to withstand wave spray plume over-topping on a fairly regular basis.
10 June 2003
I had specifically gone up to Tonga to photograph large storm waves slamming into the Wall. They had been caused by a southerly gale that was thrashing the country. The photo shown here highlights how spray plumes impact on cliff-top vegetation.
As I sat down in the grass to have a short break in the evening light, a New Zealand falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae),alighted on a fence post about 15 feet away from me. This was close enough for me to correctly identify it as a falcon and not the larger Australasian harrier. (Circus approximans). This beautiful falcon knew I was there, but still chose to rest close by. I will always treasure that special moment. Both resting, both enjoying the last light of the day. No fear, no hurry, no need to fly away. Just a shared moment in time by mutual consent.
11 June 2003
What a difference a day makes!. This image gives a clearer view of the impact spray plumes have on exposed vegetation, even when around 80 feet above normal sea level.
13 August 2003
The sea state allowed me a brief visit to the base of the Gibbs’ Fishing Point on the Four Brothers Beach side of it. The photo here shows small mussels and barnacles to the ship’s bow buttress at the base of the cliff.
6 September 2003
Stormy conditions. I noticed that the MacKenzies were in the process of planting banksias, flaxes and pohutukawas on this extremely exposed cliff top. Don’t know how many will survive the brutal conditions. Even if they do, they will lead relatively short lives before their crumbling cliff-top home tumbles into the sea. There were lots of black backed gulls flying high.
29 September 2003
ALPHA STORM. Above the storm’s fury, the boiling sea, the screaming wind, I heard a skylark sing. Wings beating furiously, it hung high in the sky, singing its little heart out. That sublime moment of song and storm will live with me forever.
1 December 2003
Down on the fishing ledge proper, I was amazed to discover the fossilized remains of ancient tree trunks embedded in the rock strata. Also, despite the ultra-extreme conditions, some Southern Salt-horn (Salicornia australis) managed to grow here.
4 February 2004
It was very wet. As I trudged across the paddock lush with long grass and Californian thistles, I could hear frogs (Southern bell frog – Litora raniformis) croaking in the pond to the rear of Gibbs’ Fishing Point. Yellowhammers and skylarks were also singing. Black-backed gulls were flying around in the vicinity of Gull Rock. On the cliff top, flaxes and some surviving pohutukawas and banksias looked quite healthy. (Only some flax subsequently survived being eaten by stock that periodically ended up on the wrong side of the fence).
15 February 2004
SUPER-STORM EVENT. Super-Storm One. As I trudged across the sodden paddock towards Gibbs’ Fishing Point, I saw lots of small, translucent toadstools. They were obviously thrilled with the wet weather.
22 February 2004
SUPER-STORM EVENT. Super-Storm Two. Up on the paddock on the northern side of Gibbs Fishing Point, some goldfinches were hoeing into the seed heads of a Scottish thistle. Also, a few hardy or stupid cicadas were chirping in the beaten up pohutukawas with the cliff-side view. At the bottom of the dip that leads up to the Fishing Point, the frog pond was overflowing from its usual outlet. (This is fed by a small stream that exits over the cliff and falls down onto the beach where the Wall is located). I hadn’t seen the pond overflowing like this before. As I sloshed through this close to the fence, an old boot stuck out of the water. Also, a couple of young cattle slopped out of the mud and away across the paddock.
Studying the grasses and sorry looking flaxes and banksias on the cliff tops, I guessed that when this currently decaying storm had been at its peak, salt laden wave plumes had routinely smashed into the plants, leaving them brown and burnt.
Atop Gull Rock a lone black-backed gull braved the waves.
7 March 2004
While on Beach One, I managed to photograph looking north along the base of the Mega-Wall. Cascades of green algae flowed down the cliff wall. There was also a small colony of tiny mussels at the base of the cliff at the extreme southern end of the Mega-Wall.
28 March 2004
The pohutukawas and banksias and other shrubs, apart from some flaxes, planted in various locations on Gibbs’ Fishing Point had croaked. Their demise was due to both the super harsh conditions of drought, wind and salt spray and being chewed beyond recovery by sheep on the wrong side of the fence.
19 September 2005
ALPHA STORM. Though the photos principally show boiling surf and huge waves thundering into the cliffs, they also feature the pohutukawas and other scrubby vegetation that eke out a precarious existence on this particularly brutal site. Such was the force of the wind that globs of sea foam were being whisked high over the cliff tops and into the paddocks. PHO2008-1448 shows some reeds clinging to the very edge of existence.
11 December 2005
It was stinking hot with huge cloud build-ups, thunder and lightning. Heading across the paddock towards Gull Rock, there were lots of skylarks singing and lots of black- backed gulls flying around. The gulls took offence to my presence. This was because it was the nesting season. And there were some gulls on Gull rock.
1 January 2006
As I struggled down the paddock towards the point, the wind was so strong; it was whipping soil particles and sand into my face. Atop Gull Rock there was a young black-backed gull chick and a protective parent. I didn’t think much to its chances of survival if the predicted gales and even bigger seas than I am experiencing today, arrive tomorrow.
31 January 2006
During part of the film shoot with Sticky Pictures, I was able to obtain some precious aerial photos. Unfortunately, for the most part they are not tack sharp, so can only be regarded as record shots at best. PHO2008-1572 shows the vegetation above the Wall, while PHO2008-1575 shows the even more sparse vegetation above the Mega-Wall and atop Gull Rock.
1.3.2006 PHO2008-1587, PHO2008-1588
These two images show two small, separate mussel and barnacle colonies at either end of the base of the Wall. Notice how the rest of the Wall is mostly clean of any flora or fauna. This is due to highly erosive wave action impacting on the cliff.
10 April 2006
I had especially come up to Tonga to do some moonlight photography. In particular I was hoping to photograph waves splooshing up the Wall at the Gibbs’ Fishing Point. This would entail a long time exposure that would render motion as ghostly streaks or white fog.
With one exposure (the camera being set up on a tripod), as I was counting the seconds, I spotted something trundling towards me from around the corner of the seaward side of the cliff. At first I thought it was a large feral cat, but it turned out to be a possum! (Trichosurus vulpecula). It stopped just a few feet in front of me and looked at me, hunched over the camera. After the initial surprise, all I could think of was: “Bloody thing, it might appear in the photo!”
The possum sauntered past me a short distance, stopped to look back, then trundled off out of sight. I couldn’t move because I was in the middle of a time exposure. It seemed quite comical really. I later discovered that the said possum had tried to get into my backpack which I had stashed around the corner from where I was working. Good job it didn’t succeed, otherwise it would have gobbled up my sandwiches which it could obviously smell!
13 June 2006
A WEATHER BOMB had crossed the country yesterday. On the northern slope that overlooked the Wall, the grass had been badly burned by salt spray. This was an unusual occurrence for this particular location.
20 June 2006
As I neared Gibbs’ Fishing Point, I noticed the dead gull I had spotted the last time I was here had mostly decomposed now. (I made no mention of this in earlier entries, so I must have forgotten about it at the time).
Black-backed gulls wheeled around in the sky above me. I also saw two black-backed gulls that appeared to be nesting atop Gull Rock.
Due to the misty conditions, from the southern end of the Gibbs’ Fishing Point, the vegetation atop the largest Fledgling showed up well. As I passed Gull Rock, I noticed that the pair of black-backed gull that I had photographed on the 23rd January had a single brown fledgling. It appeared to be of flyable size. However, neither the lone parent that was there nor the fledgling flew away. As I was down to my last two frames on this roll of film and it was wet, I didn’t photograph these two gulls.
The flax bushes at the southern end of Gibbs’ Fishing Point were much larger and healthier specimens than their chewed up and shredded smaller cousins located at the northern end of the Point.
On this bright sunny day, I ventured down onto the Gibbs’ fishing ledge proper. This is, obviously, where people fish from. Today, two fishermen who were already there said “Hi.”
This ledge is the one place on the coastline that I am always nervousabout being on. This is because it is a sheer drop to the beach below. I ventured down onto it because I particularly wanted to record the fossil tree remains. While photographing them, two native plants were also recorded. They are believed to be Pyrrosia eleagnifolia) which was growing on the fossilized trees, and Southern Salt-horn (Salicornia australis). Both are extremely salt tolerant, which is handy as they are regularly subject to wave spray plumes. I also got a closer perspective of Gull Rock. The vegetation atop this large rock stack is composed of ice plants and some reeds.
The sea below was decorated with numerous clumps of seaweed that had been ripped from their beds by a recent turbulent sea.
As well as the two chaps fishing, the other thing that glared at you was the obscene amount of rubbish. Cut up bits of nylon line, ‘bird’s nest’ nylon line, empty Tui beer bottles, large garishly coloured plastic soft drink bottles, newspaper and a large ice-cream container. This is presumably what attracted the possum I saw while photographing higher up on the Point on 10.4.2006. I couldn’t bring myself to photograph it, so instead I recorded it in words on my tape recorder.
As I sat annoyed at the rubbish, a cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae rapae), fluttered past. I was amazed at the distance it must have flown to be here. It probably came all the way from the MacKenzies vege garden. The lack of wind meant that the flight hadn’t been wind assisted. There was also the odd FLY buzzing around, but surprisingly given the conditions and fish smells, there were very few flies.
I saw two sheep, a ram and a ewe on the seaward side of the fence. Amazingly, they didn’t run away from me as sheep usually do in the next door paddock. I think they hoped I would open a gate (not that there was one), to allow them back into the paddock they had escaped from. Shortly afterwards I photographed two black- backed gulls atop Gull Rock.
Up at Tonga I had lunch next to the gate with the notice “Do not drive in Paddock” clamped to it. There was also some dead farm machinery reposing close by. This paddock provided the more usual access route down to the Gibbs’ Fishing Point. On the other side of the walkway road, a stubby pohutukawa struggled to grow above cattle cropping height, even though it was fenced from cattle. A lone dunnock’s song rang out from it. (Dunnock is another name for the hedge sparrow – Prunella modularis). Later, down at the Point, I saw some black backed gulls atop Gull Rock.
Just before arriving (after having trudged there and back from Twin Creeks) at the paddock where you walk down to Gibbs’ Fishing Point, I spotted a pair of Paradise ducks (Tadorna variegata), with a clutch of ducklings. They had taken up residence in a pond.
Low cloud and fog made the vegetation ‘zing’ with colour, especially the greens.
While scoffing lunch next to the paddock that leads down to Gibbs Fishing Point, I saw two harrier hawks twirling in the sky, trying to find some lift from the sodden hills. Later, on the southern end of the Point, I photographed looking south along Beach One. The vegetation up top and the green algae on the cliff faces below, all shone in this wondrous wet light. On Gull Rock, a pair of black-backed gulls were resting on a lush cushion plant that was growing on the highest point. I assumed they were establishing their breeding site.
At the northern end of the Point, I photographed looking across to the Wall and the Four Brothers in the distance. Again, the vegetation all glowed and showed up very well.
For the first time ever, I was able to access the seaward side of the mega-wall of Gibbs’ Fishing Point from the beach. However, even though it was a very low 0.1m tide, waves were still coming up to the cliff at the northern end of the mega-wall where I was. At the southern, Beach One end, the beach level is higher. I took a couple of shots with the panoramic camera. The image featured here shows a black- backed gull atop Gull Rock. It also shows barnacles, some mussel spat and some green algae on the lower part of the wall. For the most part however, the wall is clean.
Up at Tonga, an unexpected hole in the sky yielded ‘wet light’ for about 20 minutes. Rain dominated before and after.
One of the photos looks across to the Wall and north along the Four Brothers Beach. The cliff top vegetation shows up quite well. After this, I went along to the southern end to photograph Beach One with White Cliffs in the background. I noticed a flock of small birds on the largest Fledgling, but I couldn’t make out what they were.