Technically, Cape Palliser is part of the Wairarapa region. However, since I described my time on the southern peninsula in my previous article, I’ll here focus on the two following days, which I spent between Lake Ferry and Martinborough.
The former is the small settlement from where the road branches out to the Cape. I spent almost a full day there, first resting in a holiday park (a shower!) and then exploring the seaside next to Onoke Lake.
The clouds were hanging low, promising rain, but I still went on a walk along Okorewa Lagoon. I saw interesting things there, like a White-faced heron (Egretta novahollandiae) fishing on the other side, or a pair of Australasian shovelers (Spatula rhynchotis), but there was no accessible shore where I could have lain without getting completely soaked – or that’s what I thought.
I spotted a group of nine Royal spoonbills (Platalea regia) in there, and I really expected them to fly away as I came closer. But they didn’t, and I found a muddy place without too much vegetation on which I could crawl to get to the edge of the lagoon. As I did that, I still completely expect the spoonbills to leave, but to my astonishment they even walked closer, probing the waters in wide bill movements without paying too much attention to me.
I didn’t really need more to be happy, though I would have liked some nice light on them. In the group, I noted three males in breeding plumage, recognizable by their yellowish breast and even more by their fluffy crown of white feathers, absent from the females’ heads. The funniest moments occured when they preened and shook – then the crown went crazy and spread in all directions. A delight to watch, I was so glad I had elected not to stay inside for the evening!
Close to the large wading birds, a pair of Pied stilts (Himantopus leucocephalus) was on the hunt as well.
Satisfied after such a photo session, I walked to the inlet of Onoke Lake, where people of all ages fished whitebait with large baskets, catching the fishes as they were flushed in by the tide.
Some seabirds roosted on Onoke Spit, the sand bar opposite of me, gulls and terns with a few Black-fronted gulls (Chroicocephalus bulleri) as the most exciting species (I encountered this rare endemic first in Miranda, remember?).
As I was preparing dinner, rain started.
On the morrow, rain stymied my attempt to go to the lagoon at sunrise, and I took it slow. When a power cut forced me to leave the holiday park (no electricity to recharge my batteries, no wifi…), I went to Martinborough library, where I was warmly welcome, and where I experienced my first earthquake since I was a child in Turkey.
In between showers, I walked along the streets of this wine town that reminded me of a far west movie. It was charming, and made for a pleasant, if shaking, halt on my adventure.
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