Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Mouse Ate the Moon!

July 10... A mouse ate the moon and just left a thin crescent of rind hanging in space where the familiar cheesy round used to be!

I took a photo of the mortal remains of the moon for you, and wondered if we would ever see the moon again!

July 12... Happily, the moon appears to be growing back. The night was so clear that a pale ghost of the moon in shadow was clearly visible as well, complete with the "sea" and "land" areas showing.

Anyway, now you have it, the moon as it appears from our side of the world... What does the moon look like from where you live?? 

I have been taking more photos.

I am often more interested in texture, pattern and light than portraying a place or something with a name.

When I went for a short walk beside the lagoon one morning recently, I found there was a thin skiff of ice on the water. I loved how the light played upon it.

The ice had recorded the movement of something that had passed over or under it as the ice was freezing. The pattern of broken ice and frozen bubbles reminded me of an encounter I had a few days before.

June 29.....

I had been standing on a road bridge looking at the water below it, when I became aware of a movement and a splash. 10 or 15 seconds later, there was another sound and a large bird popped up out of the water and fluttered ashore.

The bird settled on a muddy rock.

I stood quite still, and the bird and I studied one another. The day was pleasant, the sun warm, and the bird had wet feathers. The bird decided that I was less of a threat to it than the prospect of catching double pneumonia, so it half opened its wings and dried off.

Once it was sufficiently restored, the bird made ready for another swim.

The bird assumed a position like a diver on a diving board,

and dived cleanly into the water.

The bird would spend a short time on the surface, than abruptly disappear into the murky depths.

It was surprising how far and how fast the bird could travel under water. In time I became fairly good at estimating where it would resurface, as I could usually spot a line of small bubbles that marked the progress of my submerged friend.

Mostly the bird bobbed up looking like it had failed to catch anything.

But its persistence paid off, and I did see it rise with something that may have been a small eel in its beak.

Later the bird was joined by a friend, and I was treated to the sight of both of them fishing.

The second bird decided that it too needed to dry off, and it did me the great favour of choosing a rock right below where I was standing on the bridge, so we ended up eight or ten feet apart at the most.

What sort of birds were they?
Well, I am no expert, so I did not know what the birds were until I got home and did some research. My bird books were no help at all as they illustrated only the adult version, and it transpired that the juvenile and adult stages of this bird are dramatically different. So I did a search on line, and found a really excellent site for New Zealand birds,
(If you like birds and haven't yet visited this site about New Zealand birds, please do). On this site was my answer, the birds were a pair of juvenile Spotted Shags (Stictocarbo punctatus). Here is a photo from nz birds online of the adult Spotted Shag, and you will see why I was confused.. 

Adult Spotted Shag (photo:

July 14... As I write this on Sunday morning, there is some "thick" looking rain falling, softened by the occasional large flake of snow. The hills near to us have a chilly capping of the white stuff, and it really does look like winter out there. Low grey clouds cover the sky, and trees huddle in miserable groups with backs arched and shoulders pulled in. Yet, twenty four hours ago it was sunny and clear, without so much of a hint of what we are getting today...

Ha, Ha, now it is Sunday afternoon and sunny, how quickly things can change!

Some of you have kindly been concerned about my back and have been sending encouraging words. Thank you for that, it has been much appreciated. This has been a long process, and I am still not working in my pottery studio. I have been benefiting from regular physiotherapy, and have started making measurable progress. The back feels much stronger and more flexible again. I can sit for more respectable amounts of time now, and have been able to visit friends and be more sociable. Not long ago I was mostly confined to home as even short trips anywhere in a vehicle were a problem. Simply being able to get out and socialize a bit, does wonders for the spirits. So, I am on the mend. The return to actual work will be slow and careful, but I can see it as something achievable.


Rhonda said...

What an enjoyable blog to read Peter,The mouse ate the moon ,the shag got a fish and the ice on the water was making magic. It is very good to see, you are able to be creative in natures world.Yes our natural world is a healer too. All is good.

Rhonda said...

The shag got an eel ,now that was clever.

smartcat said...

The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag.
The reason you will see, no doubt,
It is to keep the lightening out.
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears many come with buns,
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Christopher Isherwood
Poems Past and Present

So pleased that you are having continual back improvement!

cookingwithgas said...

Look at those feet on that bird. I love the pictures. Get better soon.

Michèle Hastings said...

Great shots of the moon!
Good to hear that your back is improving.

Angie said...

Wow many amazing shots . I love the moon ...but then the texture shots are so interesting ...and then the bird ...just poised like a diver.

So glad you are on the mend ...take it very slowly though. xx

Melissa Rohrer said...

Ice...hard for me to imagine right now.
Glad there's some progress with your back

Arkansas Patti said...

What wonderful shots Peter. You do have a marvelous eye for photography. I could stand next to you with a similar camera and my shots of the same subject would be junk.
I am so glad you are making progress with your back. It must be miserable not to be able to work. Keep up the good progress.

Sue said...

Hi Peter,
How I enjoy reading your blog, and this one was delightful. Your photographs are brilliantly clear and you obviously have an artistic eye. I love all the shots you posted.
The attention to light, texture and pattern is exquisite.
The story of the juvenile spotted shag could make a children's picture book. How very clever. Seriously though, I can see it as a reader or a non-fiction book about "A spotted shag goes fishing." Wonderful.
Is there no end to your talent Mr Gregory?
So pleased your back is improving.
Thank you for entertaining us less arty ones with your talents.

Armelle Léon said...

I think the moon is not so different from our part of the world. Wonderful photos, the birds are really beautiful. Here cormorants are black and so, the juvenile. They use to dry their wings in the same way.
Very pleased to know that you will be able to go back to the clay, best wishes for your recovery.

Peter said...

Dear All,
Goodness, the creativity was flowing! Rhonda's "The mouse ate the moon ,the shag got a fish and the ice on the water was making magic." was a great single sentence summing up of the post, and then Smartcat followed with the amusing poem by Christopher Isherwood, which made me laugh (which was most welcome and therapeutic!!).

Meredith said "look at those feet on that bird," and look I did as it is always reassuring to see a fellow creature with size 12 feet! It transpired that those yellow feet were a very helpful clue as to the bird's identity. Other members of the shag or cormorant family have black or pink feet, and there were only two contenders this way with yellow.

Michèle, we are so lucky with technology, actually being able to photograph the moon. So easy to take cameras for granted these days.

Angie, I like taking photos of texture.. I am not quite sure what I will do with them all at this stage, but ripples on water, patterns of light and shadow, are fascinating.

Melissa, it is one of the delightful things about the internet that we can see sunshine on one side of the world and snow and ice on the other. A bit confusing sometimes!

Ah, the moon... I think it may be playing tricks! Armelle said "I think the moon is not so different from our part of the world", and I was puzzeled at first, because it should be different. Down here we should be seeing it "back to front", but the trick that it is playing is that when the moon is waning in the North, and waxing in the South (getting bigger and getting smaller) they will look the same I think! They are just at opposite ends of their luna cycle. I found a school website that explains it better than I can...
In the Northern Hemisphere the sunlit part of the moon moves from right to left, and in the Southern Hemisphere it is left to right!

Patti, I suspect that if the two of us stood side by side with our cameras, we would be talking too much to remember to take photos! It is a lovely thought.

Sue, thank you for the title "A spotted shag goes fishing", and for the encouragement. With you all cheering me on, I just might manage to actually write a children's book.

Kind Thoughts,

Armelle Léon said...

Hi Peter, I think the trick is in my mind, when I saw your photos of the moon, I knew it was the new moon, but yesterday I took a shot of the moon ....and I saw the crescent moon in the other side !!!
I remember seeing the moon this winter in Thailand, and what a surprise, she looked like a canoe sailing in the dark, the real is quite different than our mind !!!

Peter said...

Hi Armelle,
I am delighted that you did see a difference from where you are. I find that I get very confused when I draw a picture of a moon, as I no longer know for sure which way is "right", I think that comes of having my childhood in the Northern Hemisphere, and my adult life in the South.. I am muddled!
Thank you for posting a photo of the moon on your blog, it is lovely to see it.
Best Wishes, P

Amy said...

beautiful birds! thanks for this post.

thinking of you, hoping that you're continuing to heal well. sending good thoughts and prayers to your part of the world... hope you'll continue to keep in touch with the blogging world...

Peter said...

Good Morning Amy,
Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers, and for keeping in touch. I am making progress with the back, and am feeling more optomistic about things now. I have a physio therapy session once a week that is encouraging and helpful. I will post again very soon.
Best Wishes,
P x

Sue said...

Hey Peter,
Hope things are okay with you at the moment.
Thinking of you from time to time.

Peter said...

Hi Sue,
Just a teeny bit depressed at the moment, and I have found it really hard to think of things to write! I think a brain scan would show clouds of cotton wool up there!
Anyway, it is lovely of you to drop by on the blog. I will try to put another blog post together.. even if it is mostly pictures!
P x

Sue said...

Hi Peter,
I totally get that. Been a teeny bit that way myself of late.

No pressure what-so-ever on you to be posting anything at all!