Topic: Fauna - Four Brothers Beach

Topic type:

THE FOUR BROTHERS BEACH

 

 

 

This also includes the Picnic Table Overlook on the MacKenzies’ farm, the Brothers Overlook, also on the MacKenzies’ farm and the Old Man Puriri Hill, (part of the Gibbs’ farm), that is high above the beach.

 

 

 

2001

 

 

4.2.2001   PHO2008-832

 

This telephoto view shows both the high hills to the rear of the Four Brothers Beach and the wind sculpted pohutukawas lining the cliff-tops.

 

 

 

2003

 

 

27.7.2003   PHO2008-066, 971

 

Between the Picnic Table Overlook and Gibbs’ Fishing Point, the cliff dips down in a low V.  This looks across to Cathedral Cave.  A stream flows over this low point.  Just back from the cliff edge, a lone bent coprosma clung to life.

 

 

30.7.2003   PHO2008-084-085, 984

 

It was a beautiful day for the middle of winter.  This was fitting for this, my first visit to the Four Brothers Beach.  The two photos here feature orange coloured algae (or rust) and green algae.  A small stream flows over the top of the cliff at this location, providing perfect growing conditions for both.

 

 

13.8.2003   PHO2008-146-147, 166, 169, 1004

 

CLIFF SEQUENCING.  I was particularly struck by the beautiful green algae festooning the splash zone of the cliff walls.  ( I know I keep mentioning it, but that’s indicative of how much I like it!)  A deceased rock stack platform near the Twin Arches also had a nice covering of algae.  Part way inside Cathedral Cave, the walls were covered in yet more green algae, then, due to a lack of light, the rest of the huge cave was scrubbed clean.  There were no rocks on the floor and right at the end there was little rubbish in the way of debris.  Only some smallish logs temporarily lingered there.

 

As mentioned on the 27th July, a small stream flows over a low cliff wall that leads around towards Cathedral Cave.  Where the water irrigates the cliff, algae flourishes.  This is true wherever water is present, either on a regular basis via overflowing streams, or a semi-regular basis via wave splashing.  Also, it doesn’t matter whether the water is fresh or salt in origin, algae isn’t choosy.  Though green algae dominate, orange coloured algae also occur in some places.

 

Near one of the cliffs close to the Inner Brothers, I saw clouds of midge-like insects.  They were nicely backlit in the late afternoon light.  Unfortunately I didn’t photograph them.

 

As for birds, I saw a black backed gull which I included in one of my photos.  I also saw a kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus), but didn’t photograph this.  What really amazed me however were the huge numbers of starlings that flocked around the Brothers rock stacks in the evening.  Their diving and weaving as they sought out their individual roost sites left me fully energized.  I presumed that they preferred to roost on these exposed rock stacks in order to escape predation.  I also observed huge flocks of starlings further north up the coastline.

 

Here too, the rock stacks had their own resident plants, some being better able to cope with the severe conditions than others.  For example, ice plants which are succulents.

 

 

28.8.2003   PHO2008-187, 198, 1013

 

Due to storm surge conditions, unlike on the Three Sisters Beach where I didn’t notice any, there was a lot of salt foam present.  It was blowing around like candyfloss.  It was here that I discovered the origin of the washed up flaxes and other plants on the Three Sisters Beach and at Pilot Point.  The source was a massive cliff face collapse located just before the Oldest Brother.  Interestingly, no plant material remained on site.  It had all been transported north.

 

Immediately to the rear of the Oldest Brother, a waterfall tumbling over the cliff nurtures green and orange coloured algae.  This originally caught my attention on the 30th July during my first visit.  This time however, I also managed to photograph an attendant rainbow.  Of further interest, the rust coloured algae growing here, is also present at the cliff collapse site.  See PHO2008-198.

 

 

6.9.2003   PHO2008-1032

 

Reeds happily grow in extreme conditions such as this exposed low cliff site.  It is located between the MacKenzies Picnic Table Overlook and Gibbs Fishing Point.  This is the same location as first mentioned on the 27th July where a lone coprosma ekes out a living.

 

 

24.11.2003

 

A lone black-backed gull perched atop the smallest Brother, but it didn’t linger for long.  I noticed that the ice plants atop the Oldest Brother were resplendent in pink flowers.  There were also a few starlings evident on the cliff tops.

 

Just inside the northern entrance of the Twin Arches cave, I came across the body of a decomposing, pongy sheep.  It had either been shorn or the tempestuous sea had stripped it of its wool.  There was also some blue twine around one of its back legs.

 

On Pinocchio I noticed that its ice plants were also in flower.

 

Walking back towards the Point, I spotted a white fishing float jammed in a rock crevice.

 

 

1.12.2003   PHO2008-444, 1129-1130

 

Walking on the MacKenzies farm down towards what I later called the Brothers Overlook, I noticed starling nest boxes spaced at intervals along the fence-line.  This separated the working paddocks from the scrubby bush covered cliff tops.  This rough vegetation was primarily composed of coprosma, toetoe, coastal cutty grass (Mariscus ustulatus), flaxes and dwarfed pohutukawas.  In the boggy area, raupo (Typha muelleri ?) was also present.  From this overlook I had a gull’s eye view of the Brothers rock stacks and the Four Brothers Beach.

 

On the Oldest Brother, terns were nesting.  Parts of the rock stack’s top were white with their droppings.  A shag was on the smallest Brother, but it soon flew off.  starlings were also about, as were some black backed gulls.

 

 

3.12.2003   PHO2008-1133

 

On my way to the Brothers Overlook I badly sliced my right index finger on one of the ferocious coastal cutty grass that inhabited this boggy cliff top.  Boy was my finger painful!  Though overcast, the view was stupendous.  Looking south, pohutukawas had been sheared to landward by the prevailing westerly winds.

 

Everything on the Brothers Overlook had a beaten up look to it.  Tortured, dead coprosma branches.  Starling droppings festooned the vegetation below the coprosmas.  This vegetation included dwarfed pohutukawas, reeds, lupins, last gasp toetoe, plus young, healthy flax and older thrashed down flaxes.

 

I photographed the terns on the Oldest Brother.  A black backed gull was on the smallest Brother and starlings were competing for space on the Oldest Brother with the terns.

 

 

26.12.2003

 

While walking along the beach, I was mobbed by some black backed gulls.  This usually occurs when they are in nesting mode.  I also observed that the terns were still colonising the Oldest Brother.

 

 

 

2004

 

 

4.1.2004

 

At the Brothers Overlook, the nesting terns were still on the Oldest Brother.  Also,  black backed gulls flew around overhead.

 

 

22.2.2004

 

SUPER-STORM EVENT.  Super-Storm Two  From the Picnic Table Overlook the deafening sea was thrashing the coastline.  I felt sorry for the terns that had been nesting on the Oldest Brother.  This was because I assumed their chicks would have been lost due to the horrendous weather we were having.

 

 

9.3.2004

 

In the semi-darkness of pre-dawn, a couple of black-backed gulls harassed me.  One of them tried to bomb me, but its aim was bad, as attested by the ‘sploot’ in the sand about 20 feet to the north of me.  I also heard some terns on the Oldest Brother.

 

 

5.4.2004   PHO2008-777, 779

 

These two images are close-ups of both the green and rust coloured algae that colonise parts of the cliffs.

 

 

7.4.2004   PHO2008-788-790, 1252, 1258

 

I finally made it up to the top of the hill where the Old Man Puriri tree resided (Vitex lucens).  I will quote my original comments made at the time, purple prose included.

 

“...  Directly in front was the sparkling and winking Tasman Sea, grinning brilliant blue from ear to ear.  Above was the blue sky dotted with a family of clouds.  Everything shouted ‘space’.  But one thing above all of this literally took my breath away and left me lost for superlatives.  The VENERABLE OLD MAN PURIRI.  His bleached and twisted trunks clung to Mother Earth.  Life on the edge of existence.  In some of his upper branches, wind-sheared slashes of green defied Death’s advances.  How old was he?  I estimated around 500 years.  Not all of them having being endured in lonely solitude.

 

I sat in reverence on one of his ample trunks.  I turned on the tape recorder, but stumbled to find the right words to describe how I felt.  Partly about the view, but mostly about the venerable Old Man Puriri...”

 

I later determined that the tough perching lilies (Astelia solandri), that festooned his upper branches were the reason for his survival in this often wind blasted environment.  Behind them, the more delicate puriri foliage could grow, freed from wind destroying shredding.  This was truly a symbiotic relationship.  The puriri provided a competition free growing platform for the astelias, and in return the astelias provided wind protection for the puriri’s more fragile leaves.

 

Of the bush on the side of the hill going up to the Old Man Puriri, I saw and heard no birds.

 

 

14.4.2004   PHO2008-791, 1261, 1263

 

With the weather being very calm, I planned to climb up the steep Old Man Puriri Hill to photograph up and down the coastline in late afternoon, early evening light.  I also wanted to photograph the venerable Old Man Puriri tree again.

 

I heard three birds in the native bush at the top and on the eastern side of the hill.  One was a fantail, the other two I couldn’t identify.  Up top, loads of daddy long legs were flitting about all over the place.  (I later learned that these are actually crane flies – (Leptotarsus sp).  This must have been a mass hatching of them.  Finally, after I had finished the photo shoot, I trudged back down the hill to the chirping of crickets.

 

 

2.5.2004   PHO2008-1270

 

With a sea fog and the cloud base covering the hill tops, I thought I’d hike up the Old Man Puriri Hill in the hope of getting some fantastic light later on.  Unfortunately, his didn’t happen.

 

At the base of the hill a large flock of starlings took flight.  There were also some yellowhammers and a large flock of goldfinches.  Obviously the pasture drenched conditions were to their liking.  Enroute to the top, field grasshoppers (Conocephalus spp), were in full song.  Up in the second to top paddock, the sheep and cattle had returned.  Just before entering the paddock, a pipit grabbed a fat, juicy grub and scoffed it on the gatepost.

 

Further up at the bush, red flowering ratas glowed in the wet light.  Also, a bellbird and a tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae), were in full song while two fantails flittered by.

 

Finally, up top, the Old Man Puriri tree stood stark naked, soaked in fog.  The Tasman Sea lay hidden beyond this mantle.  On the tree itself, with 100% air moisture, the mosses and lichens were plump and handsome.  I obtained a nice image of the Old Man Puriri enveloped in fog and low cloud.

25.7.2004   PHO2008-1317

 

Atop the Old Man Puriri Hill I did more photography of the Old Man Puriri tree.  This time in clear light.

 

 

1.8.2004   PHO2008-1330, 1336, 1341

 

Plants that live atop rock stacks, such as Pinocchio (PHO1330) and the Brothers, live a precarious existence.  In PHO2008-1336, one of the Brothers, a substantial part of the rock stack has collapsed.

 

In Cathedral Cave, it was interesting to note that some tiny mussels had set up shop on the right hand side of the cave, but not on the left hand side.  This is possibly due to wave action being more severe on the left hand side of the cave.  Overall, Cathedral Cave is an extremely hostile environment for anything to take hold, hence its almost scrubbed clean appearance.

 

 

 

2005

 

 

30.11.2005   PHO2008-811, 1523

 

As I reached Pinocchio, I noticed that this rock stack had lost its top, along with the desperate plant that had clung to life there.

 

At the Twin Arches Cave, there had been a partial cliff collapse on the left-hand side of the cave at the northern entrance.  Wedged in amongst the fresh rock slabs was the contorted body of a black-backed gull.  The deceased bird didn’t pong and it looked quite fresh.  As it was easily in the high tide zone, I was surprised that it hadn’t been flushed out and away, even though the sea state was relatively calm.

 

The bases of the sandstone rocks were partly buried in sand, so even though the collapse was recent, and sudden enough to kill the gull, it wasn’t as recent as the last high tide.  Was it?  Surely not.  By all intents the gull should have been washed away, but it hadn’t been.  Also, it didn’t look as if it had been shifted by water to this, its present spot from another location.  A sitting bird (on a nest), could perhaps fall prey to a sudden cliff collapse, but a flying bird so close and low down to the cliff is harder to comprehend.  However, there it was.  An extremely unlucky, dead black- backed gull.

 

 

 

2006

 

 

15.1.2006

 

At the Picnic Table Overlook, I was pestered by lots of very tiny flies.  They were a bit smaller than sand flies.  However, they didn’t bite, but liked to land on you and tickle your flesh.  Perhaps they were attracted by sweat.

 

Down on the beach, as with the Three Sisters Beach, there were lots of tiny jellyfish.  There were also some tiresome bits of shredded plastic and bits of rope.  All being totally out of place in this pristine environment.

 

The dead black-backed gull that I had observed at the Twin Arches Cave on 30.11.05 had long gone.  However, I saw a lone black-backed gull near the Giant’s Foot.  This is a spectacular feature of the Twin Arches Cave.  I wondered if this lone bird was the dead gull’s mate.

 

 

1.3.2006   PHO2008-1578, 1580

 

Near Cathedral Cave I noticed a few glaring bright bits of plastic which pissed me off.  I also saw a red Coca Cola bottle top.  Was tempted to photograph it but I couldn’t be bothered.  I also noticed quite a lot of seabird feathers at the wave-line, but I didn’t pay too much attention to them then.  I assumed the gulls must have been moulting.

 

Shortly afterwards, I strolled down towards a small rock shelf near the ship’s bulb formation to look at some mussels.  These were around 3 to 4 inches long and there were just a couple of clumps of them.  A couple of the mussels were open and minus their contents.  Snapper?  Most of the mussels observed however were very small, especially on the ship’s bulb proper.

 

I then rounded the ship’s bulb to quickly explore the small bay at the base of the Gibbs’ Fishing Point.  Upon returning, I saw a red billed gull tucking into small creatures at the base of the ship’s bulb.  What they were I didn’t know.  Sand hoppers?  The gull didn’t seem bothered by me at all.

 

As I returned along the Four Brothers Beach, I noticed more seabird feathers marching in single file along the wave-line.  There were too many to attribute to moulting birds.  Just before I arrived at the Oldest Brother, I spotted two adult black backed gulls and a brown juvenile pecking at something at the wave-line.  Thinking it to be a dead, washed up fish, I went to investigate.  It turned out to be the corpse of a black seabird that I couldn’t identify.  (It may have been a Fluttering shearwater – Puffinus gavia?)  The dead bird was similar in size to a red billed gull.

 

Just before I arrived back at The Point I spotted another black seabird.  This bird was more decomposed than its mate further down the beach.  I wondered if they had starved to death.  However, we haven’t had any stormy weather and if not starved due to storms or overfishing, then perhaps the currents that provided the birds main food source had shifted.  Perhaps the recent jellyfish strandings were connected.

 

 

30.1.2006

 

As I walked along the beach, I could hear cicadas singing in the vegetation growing on the cliffs.  I also saw a couple of red-billed gulls.  I saw no more feathers or dead black seabirds.

 

 

20.6.2006   PHO2008-1928, 1934

 

I had especially wanted to access the Brothers Overlook on the MacKenzies’ farm.  The aim being to get some great early evening photos looking south along the Four Brothers Beach with White Cliffs and Mt Egmont in the background.  The vegetation featured was mostly a mix of flaxes and sheared pohutukawas.

 

What I couldn’t know at the time was that this would be the last time I would safely be able to access the Brothers Overlook due to it being an erosional hotspot.  Great chunks of the cliff here have and continues to be carved off.  A stream cuts through the middle of it.

 

Before toddling along to the Brothers Overlook, I went to the Picnic Table Overlook and photographed some pohutukawas clinging to the cliff at Horseshoe Cove.  Also featured is the shadow of the Pinocchio rock stack.

 

 

26.7.2006   PHO2008-817

 

At the Oldest Brother, I clambered up onto the mussel rich lower platform in order to take a series of photos looking south.  Some of the mussels on the platform were medium in size and I was careful to damage them as little as possible.  The photo shown here highlights some of the vegetation clothing the cliff-tops.

 

 

10.8.2006   PHO2008-1990

 

I spotted a shag atop the Smallest Brother, but it flew off before I could photograph it.  I was struck by the greenness of the shrubs atop the Inner Brother, so I took a photo of the two Brothers.  I also saw some black-backed gulls flying quite high.

 

 

9.9.2006   PHO2008-1993

 

At the Oldest Brother, a couple of black-backed gulls flew past.  On the Brother itself, I was intrigued by a bright orange sponge thingy (Polymastia spp) growing on one of the ledges.  In the rain and ‘wet light’, it shone like a beacon.  When I took a closer look I saw the biggest anemone (Actiniidae Oulactismagna), I have ever seen.  It was in a tiny pool hidden away between two ledges.  The anemone was approximately 3 inches across and the tentacles were about ½ inch long.  But what was really incredible about it was its colour.  It was a beautiful shade of lilac that covered part of its open disc.

 

I only had my wide-angle lens on.  I angled the camera and the tripod so as to take a photo.  There were also some largish mussels, about 2 to 3 inches long close by.  After much fiddling, I managed to set the camera up.  However, the gap separating the two ledges was so small, I couldn’t see to focus properly, so had to guess.  Also, there was rain water dripping into the pool and I had to use a long shutter speed of 1 second at f8.  (The resultant photo wasn’t tack sharp as I suspected it wouldn’t be, but it’s the only photographic record I have).

 

 

 

2007

 

 

23.12.2007   PHO2011-1128, 1137, 1145

 

At the Oldest Brother, I noticed that a pink flowering ice plant was trailing down from the rock stack’s top.  I then walked towards the two Inner Brothers.  On the cliffs I saw that some of the pohutukawas were flowering.  I also heard some young starlings chirping from the vegetation lower down on the cliff.  I also saw a shag atop the smallest Brother.

 

At Cathedral Cave I photographed the cave area.  This illustrated the pohutukawa trees perched precariously above the entrance.  The usual rock debris pile loafed at the cave’s base; testament to frequent cliff falls that occur on the landward side of the cave.  Some of the large rocks had mussel spat on them.  There were also several large rocks with green algae growing on them.  I think they were part of the rock shelf that used to be there and is now smashed up.

 

On my way back along the beach, I stopped to photograph the green algae growing on the cliffs in the splash zone.  One was near Cathedral Cave and the other was at the rear of the Oldest Brother.  Flies were a real pain.

 

Later, as I waited for the light to soften, I heard starlings, sparrows and cicadas singing and chirping.

 

 

 

2008

 

 

23.1.2008   PHO2011-1149

 

Yesterday saw the remnants of Cyclone Funa hit Taranaki and the lower North Island.  Though the tropical depression had unleashed powerful north-westerly winds, it gifted virtually nothing of the wet stuff that everything was crying out for.

 

As I headed across the paddock towards the Picnic Table Overlook, I noticed that the Californian thistles on the cliff side of the fence were all flattened in a southerly direction.  The swell was large and rapacious.  The cliffs and the Three Brothers were being thrashed, even though the wind direction had now changed to the south-west.  Some spray plumes spewed over the tops of the Oldest and the smallest Brother.  I hoped that the terns nesting atop the oldest Brother hadn’t lost any of their chicks.

 

On the southern side of the Picnic Table Overlook, I got a clear view of the large waves hammering the cliffs close to Cathedral Cave.  The pohutukawa trees above the cave were well illuminated.

 

 

10.2.2008   PHO2011-1173

 

As with the Three Sisters Beach and the Tonga Reserve, the cicadas were in full throttle down here too.  Overhead, black backed gulls circled, but didn’t call out.

 

At the southern entrance to the Twin Arches cave system, the cliff leading up to it shows where vegetation has slipped away.  Still attached plants close by show just how precarious their cliff-side perches are.

 

Near Pinocchio I saw quite a few black backed gull feathers on the beach.  I had also spotted more further along the beach.  Of the bird itself I saw nothing.  I also saw a lot of other things, such as bits of flotsam.   Some mussels on the cliffs were entwined in some kind of white stuff.  It seemed like wood or end of life rope or something.  It could easily be pulled apart.  Perhaps a sheep had fallen off a cliff and karked it.  Who knows?

 

 

6.4.2008

 

As I had noticed with the Sisters rock stacks, the vegetation atop the Brothers rock stacks looked either dead or sickly.  I haven’t seen them looking this bad before, such were the parched conditions.

 

As I continued towards the Twin Arches, I saw lots of seagull tracks.  There were also a number of black-backed gulls and a couple of red-billed gulls.  I also saw a kingfisher on a rock close to Pinocchio.  On the way back, I spotted a lot of well shredded gull feathers.  Though there were a lot of feathers, they were well spread out.  Perhaps they were remnants of a moult, or something more sinister, like death.  I also saw two dead pilchards or sprats.  They were about 1.1/2 inches long.  I was surprised that they hadn’t been gobbled up by the birds I had seen, unless they were full from scoffing others I hadn’t seen (for obvious reasons!)  This aside, I wondered what the fish had died from.

 

Before exiting the beach, I went to recover the sad cicada I had rescued from the Three Sisters Beach.  Unfortunately, it had died.  If I’d thought more about it at the time, I could have cleaned the salt water and sand off with some of my drinking water.  But I didn’t think about it.  Bum.  Will be wiser if there is a next time.

 

 

6.5.2008   PHO2011-1231

 

As I neared the Oldest Brother, I noticed that the vegetation on it had greened up considerably.  Everything looked much fresher now that the devastating drought is over as evidenced by this water flowing over the cliff near Cathedral Cave.

 

 

28.9.2008   PHO2011-1330, 1332

 

Down at the Twin Arches Cave, the whole cliff face above the Giant’s Foot formation had collapsed.  Vegetation atop the massive debris pile appeared to be dead and the pohutukawas lining the cliff top were reduced in number.

 

The sea state was quite vigorous and sea foam littered parts of the beach.

 

 

15.10.2008   PHO2011-1364

 

Thanks to a relatively calm sea state, I was able to get right down to Cathedral Cave.  The photo shown here, though of the cave, also shows some green algae growing on the left-hand side cave wall.  Though the algae in the photo are not sharp, it clearly shows that where water tumbles over a cliff on a regular basis, then algae will colonise it.  Notice the stark demarcation line between wet and dry.  Life on one side, nothing on the other.

 

 

14.12.2008   PHO2011-1453, 1460, 1466

 

CLIFF SEQUENCING.  As I approached the Oldest Brother, I saw some terns that appeared to be nesting on his top.  However, they were being harassed by black- backed gulls.

 

Near Pinocchio, I spotted a large red crab in a pool.  I photographed it, but with the wide angle lens I had on for cliff sequencing, it is a case of ‘spot the crab’.

 

Above the Twin Arches Cave, the line of surviving pohutukawas is noticeably thinner than those on either side of them.  Lastly, there was the usual green algae that I like to photograph.

 

 

 

2009

 

 

11.1.2009

 

Just past the Twin Arches cave, after changing my roll of film, I sat down on a rock and scoffed my vegemite cob.  A lone red billed gull waited close by, so I shared my cob with it.  A couple of black-backed gulls perched atop Pinocchio but they didn’t come down.  Afterwards, I saw a sprat zipping around one of the large water pools on the beach.

 

The Oldest Brother had terns nesting on his top.  There were also lots of terns flying around and I noticed a couple of skuas (Stercorarius sp ?),  harassing them.  (After phoning Barry Hartley to find out more about this, I discovered that what I had originally thought of as black-backed gulls were in fact skuas.  They harass the terns to force them to drop any fish they have caught).

 

 

8.2.2009   PHO2011-1568, 1570

 

As I neared the Oldest Brother, I noticed some backpacks and gear stashed on rocks near the cliff.  At one, a young-red billed gull was busy scoffing a large piece of fish bait.  I later caught up with some surfcasters, two of whom caught a very nice snapper (Pagrus auratus) each.  The photo here features Shane Dunlop.

 

After photographing the fishermen, I photographed the Twin Arches and the cave collapse site to the rear.  Of interest here is the vegetation on top and how it has been affected.

 

In some of the pools around the larger rocks, I noticed some small sprats.  On the beach I saw a few crab shells and what appeared to be a dead chick.  It was possibly a baby tern.  The chick was naked and its eyes hadn’t yet opened.  I also saw bits of dropped fish bait.  As for the dead chick, I assumed this was caused by the terns being harassed by the black-backed gulls.  I wondered though why they hadn’t eaten the dead chick that had either fallen, or had been tossed out of the nests.  It’s not as if the gulls wanted the nest sites for themselves either because they could easily have evicted the terns.  It is almost as if they have harassed the terns and killed their young simply because they could.  (I am making an assumption here).

 

 

25.5.2009

 

Heading towards the Brothers, the rock platforms were fully exposed and were covered in mussel spat.  As I walked past the Oldest Brother, I spotted a kingfisher that was looking down at the water, probably for sprats.  After finishing photographing the Twin Arches cave collapse site, I saw some black backed gulls on the beach.

 

 

19.9.2009   PHO2011-1910-1911

 

Walking down the beach, I spotted a shag atop the Little Brother.  This flew off before I could photograph it.  Both the Little Brother and Middle Brother had ice plants with pink flowers on them.  I photographed both of the Brothers.  Pinocchio also had some flowering ice plants on it.  I didn’t notice any on the Oldest Brother, but I only looked on its southern side.

 

 

 

2010

30.1.2010   PHO2011-1724, 1732, 1734

 

I noticed that plant material was present right down the beach.  As I couldn’t find any evidence of a cliff fall, I had to assume that as the plant material was all grass based, it had originated from the Three Sisters Beach dune area.  It was all fresh and in good condition, so it must have been dislodged by the recent king tides.  This was unusual because the current normally runs from south to north.  This is the first time I have observed plant material being shifted in the opposite direction.

 

I didn’t see any terns nesting on any of the Brothers rock stacks or Pinocchio.  I have observed terns nesting on the Oldest Brother in the past, but they were only currently breeding on the Inner Sister.  She must be flavour of the year.

 

At the Twin Arches Cave, of the Giant’s Foot formation, only the platform now remained, along with a small, upright segment.  This segment was festooned with green algae.  Algae were also growing on the platform.  On the cliff-top above, the trees appeared to be more thinned out.

 

Walking back towards the Oldest Brother, I heard quite a few cicadas chirping away on the cliffs.  As I neared the Oldest Brother I saw a large, yellow plastic open box on the beach.  It proudly pronounced itself to be the property of Egmont Seafoods.  I wasn’t impressed.  Much of the debris that ends up on beaches originates from fishing trawlers.  A nasty horrible black mark to the fishing industry!

 

 

28.3.2010   PHO2011-1951

 

I was accompanied by eight members of the Taranaki Geological Society.  As I was the tour group’s leader, I only had my digital camera with me.  My first priority today was the group, not the coastline, although I did manage to do some photography.

 

At the Twin Arches cave system; I took a photo of the surviving pohutukawas atop the cliff directly above the collapse site.  Further down, I saw two black backed gulls perched on top of Pinocchio.

 

 

31.3.2010

 

With it being an exceptionally low tide of 0.1m, I wanted to return with the panoramic camera to do some ‘proper’ photography.

 

While walking down towards Cathedral Cave, I saw a kingfisher parked on a rock at Horseshoe Cove.  Heading towards the cave, I then saw a lone red-billed gull at the base of the stream that tumbled over a low cliff.  The gull was remarkably tolerant and I took a couple of what I thought would be great photos.  Problem was, I had a bad hair day photography-wise and stuffed them up!

 

 

11.4.2010   PHO2011-1803-1804, 1957

 

Due to the exceptionally calm conditions, I planned to climb up the Old Man Puriri Hill to do some early evening photography looking both north and south along the coastline.

 

Walking past the bush near the top, it was mostly silent of birdsong.  I did however hear a lone silver-eye and a bellbird sang a solitary note.  Continuing on, I almost tripped over a black goat with big horns.  I don’t know who was more surprised, him or me.

 

Up top, there were loads of daddy long legs (crane flies), lots of little blue butterflies (Zizina otis labradus), grasshopper and crickets.  Due to the calm conditions, it was so quiet that I could actually hear the whirring of daddy long legs’ wings and the delicate rasping of grasshoppers.  As for the Old Man Puriri tree, he looked to be in great condition.  There was healthy, prolific growth at the base of his trunks and even the ‘pom poms’ (perching lilies), on his branch tops were looking good.  The pine trees (Monterey pine – Pinus radiata) that the Gibbs’ have planted nearby were most likely offering some wind protection, particularly from the northwest.

 

The sea was so flat that the only ripples you could see were those generated by shoals of fish and the odd puff of breeze further out.

 

On the way back past the bush near the top, I heard a blackbird and the rustling of more goats, although I didn’t see any this time.

 

 

11.7.2010   PHO2011-1815   PHO2011-1817

 

The incredible level of atmospheric clarity made everything, including the cliff top vegetation, leap out in cinematic glory.

 

As I neared the Little Brother, I saw two black-backed gulls resting on top.  I didn’t photograph them however.  At the Twin Arches cave, I was particularly struck by the rich orange seams and verdant green algae/moss that stained and festooned the cliffs here.

 

I photographed looking both north and south along the beach.  In the image I took looking north towards the Oldest Brother, a black-backed gull was lit up flying over the cliff top.  I also saw a sparrow fly down from the cliffs.  Like the one I spotted on the Three Sisters Beach, it may have been after tiny flying insects.

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