Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Birds and Butterflies and a few Fish

Chris walks up the hill above Bai Maa - Ladybug is anchored in the bay behind.

Rani takes a local truck for a 'spin'.
We are less than ten miles from Noumea but it's like another world. The Baie Maa is quite a large bay and had thirty five boats anchored in it over the long weekend, almost all locals enjoying their civic holiday. Most of the action remained on the water with people water-skiing, swimming and speeding about in small skiffs. We took to the shore and found a red dirt road skirting the beach. In one direction lies a small cottage community with a nice picnic park and gold sand beach. We took a short walk through the "village" one day and stopped at the locked gate which allows access from the main road to Noumea. Some of the cottages were shipping containers with added porches and awnings, pretty floral gardens completing a cute rustic picture.

Niaouli trees look a bit like small stubby Eucalyptus trees.

This windmill used to pump water to a nearby cottage, now abandoned

Monarch butterflies mating

The monarchs were feeding on the flowers from these plants

Over the next two days we explored the road closest to our boat and hiked through the valley and over scrubby hills to four other beaches to the south. Farmers must be mowing the roads to either keep track of their livestock or go hunting. Otherwise the long grass would be hard to walk through. We startled some sheep a few times and saw deer scat but no deer. Birds whistled and sang in the trees and bright orange monarch butterflies danced in the breeze. A young man we met on one walk pointed out the niaouli trees and crushed a few leaves to let us inhale the menthol-like scent. Niaoulis populate the dry savannah of the west coast of New Caledonia after the land has been cleared by farmers for grazing.

Sheep gallop past us on the coastal road that runs along the bay

Chris explores a vacation property we found on a peninsula near the bay.

Rani's blouse matched the bougainvillea

The beaches were a mix of sand and coral rubble and there were a few shaded grassy spaces which had been used by campers, judging by the ashes of fire pits and heaps of beer cans. It is a pity that those who enjoy the outdoors cannot be bothered to respect the land and remove their trash. We also came across a gorgeous closed-up holiday property comprising two boarded up cottages and a large gazebo with their own private beach. There was a fruit orchard with mango, guava and Kumquat trees. Vivid pink and orange Bougainvillea flowers draped over the cottages and it seemed a shame that no-one was there to enjoy it.

We came back re-charged after 3-4 hours of hiking in this pastoral paradise each day and then enjoyed a cool dip off Ladybug. Evenings were spent chatting and eating with new and old friends on Akimbo, Barefoot and Sir Francis.

The following photos were taken a day later on a trip out to some islands near the edge of Grand Terre's lagoon.

We saw some new fish on the reefs at a nearby island

Lovely colours and patterns

Most of the corals were of the stag horn variety, but we came across a couple of small bommies wth healthy growths of soft  and hard corals

These electric blue fish were common on the two bommies.

No comments: