Friday 24 July 2015


Our arrival on a balmy afternoon at Butchers Dam was followed by a frost overnight…

…and an amazing sight to wake up to – well, amazing to this North Islander who has never seen anything bigger than a puddle freeze over. The dam, while not totally frozen, had a large covering of ice over the centre and around some of the edges. I wondered why it hadn’t frozen on our edge as it was very shallow. And while it was a -5 degree frost it didn’t actually feel that cold outside, and yet cold enough to freeze the top of a large body of water.

I waited to watch what the sun rise did to the snow capped Old Man Range, first the sky turned a beautiful mauve hue as the pre-dawn gloom brightened…

…and then as the sun rose higher & crept down the snow, the colour turned a beautiful pink…

…..until finally it reached the bare poplars & willows turning them the rich rustic colours of the golden hour. You can see the iced over sections in the middle of the water.

Across the partly frozen dam the western face of Flat Top Hill stayed in the shade while the willows and bull rushes came alive.

The midday sun failed to melt the ice….

...although it had retreated a little….

....but by 4pm the temperature was dropping again which meant the ice was here to stay.

The next morning there was a glorious sunrise and another surprise in store….

A much heavier frost, minus 7 degrees….

….and the dam frozen right to the edge. Of course there was no way I was walking on it, it was no more than a thin coating but I had fun tapping the edges and watching the ice crack away and spread ripples out under the unbroken ice.

The thick layer of cloud that rolled in just after sunrise stayed put, casting a cold grey pall over the lake.

Flat Top Hill looks very uninviting across the water, luckily we did a walk up there in the sunshine yesterday (a post to come on that shortly).

I took a walk around to the dam wall, passing these rocks which, over the last couple of days, a pair of oyster catchers and a large shag had been jostling for ownership of. I wonder where they have gone to now, especially the shag probably up a nearby stream. It must be lean pickings in the winter.

The movement near the overflow hasn’t frozen, nor a couple of sheltered coves.

At least the cloud cover allowed me to take a decent shot of the dam wall, the shots the day before had harsh shadows. Just a pity I left my tripod back in the van. Oh well, a steady 'one foot forward, elbows tucked in, don’t breathe’ stance allows me to slow the shutter down (and not fall off the edge!), to make the waterfall silky smooth.

And for those that are interested, the settings for both these were-
ISO100, f/22, 1/4 sec shutter speed.

What a difference,  it’s hard to believe this is the same place we arrived at 36 hours earlier. And I suspect had we arrived when it looked this uninviting we would have carried on and found another place to stay. Which would have been a pity, look what we’d have missed out on. Never judge a book by it’s cover.


  1. I see you had your paint brush out again. Beautiful colours and well worth the early rise to capture them.

    1. Not mine, that's Mother Nature's paint brush, pretty cool eh! And surprisingly enough it's not that early, sunrise is 8am down here at the moment. Still, I am an early riser. I must have got that from my father. Hey Mr Anonymous, it's polite to sign off with your name too, or a non-de-plume perhaps. How about Charlie? :)

  2. I hope you got your cheeky charm from your father.......?
    Proper Charlie.


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