Today has been a hot, sunny day. The sort of February day we expect. Sadly such days have been few and far between since Christmas time 2011.
At lunch time I heard the prettiest song and as I looked out into our back garden I saw a grey- fawn coloured bird darting amongst the leaves of the golden elm tree.
It was bigger than a sparrow but smaller than a blackbird and it sang with such clear, bell-like sounds interspersed with more ordinary chirrups.
It was gone before I could look for the camera and I doubt that I would have managed to capture it without a zoom lens and more technique than I have.
I checked my NZ birds book and was delighted to find that I had seen a New Zealand Bellbird, or Korimako, its Maori name. It was Mrs Bellbird. I had heard her song a couple of times in the previous weeks but I could not see the singer.
I am so thrilled that I have finally seen a Bellbird in the wild and even more thrilled that the bird was in my garden. I hope Mrs Bellbird returns soon and brings Mr Bellbird with her.
The noisy songs of the cicada are a familiar feature of New Zealand summers. But this summer the grey clouds have quietened the usual noise and there have only been spasmodic days when I’ve heard their welcome sounds.
I was trimming back some foliage in our garden on Sunday and came across this branch containing the shed skins of at least 5 cicadas (the 5th is just out of this shot). It looked like a cicada ladder.
My friend and colleague Marian over at Contemplate Life Coaching offered me this great rose quote after I posted my Wedding Rose photo and quote this morning.
I like it so much that I have reposted it as a separate post for you all to enjoy.
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.” Dale Carnegie
My eye has been caught in the past few days by clusters of fat yellow/orange berries hanging on native trees. They are Karaka trees which produce their very large berries in summer time.
There is a small Karaka tree on the reserve next to my home and it has plenty of berries on it too this year. It is a surprisingly small size given how big Karaka trees can grow and normally it has very few berries on it but this year it is dotted with the pretty coloured berries.
From Te Ara, the online encyclopaedia of New Zealand I read that the seed inside of each berry contains Karakin, a lethal toxin. Maori discovered that by first baking and then soaking the seeds in water they are safe for human consumption. Don’t try this at home without further detailed information I would suggest.
However in true symbiotic style our beautiful native wood pigeon, the Kereru is the only bird who can swallow these whopping berries and they help regenerate the Karaka trees.
The feast of berries this summer is going to fill the substantial bellies of Kereru who are appearing in our area in increasing numbers.
I wonder if the small tree near my home will be visited by passing Keruru? I hope so.
I’ve checked the dictionary and “tenacious” can mean “persisting in existence” and this fuchsia cutting certainly has tenacity in truckloads.
When we shifted to this house in the late 1980’s there was a woody, gnarly old fuchsia bush which was the parent of this cutting. In 1998 we did extensive outdoor landscaping which meant the old bush had to be removed.
At the time of removal I took a cutting and popped it into a small plastic pot, silently promising it that if it survived I would find a place for it somewhere in the modified garden.
It is hard to believe that this cutting somehow survived in its little pot for 14 years, despite dry spells, wet conditions, frost, snow and harsh winds. But it did and after removing some unwanted plants in the early new year I honoured my promise and planted it back near the site of its parent.
In keeping with its determined life force it is doing very well, flowering and putting on new leaves. I am watering it regularly and the mulch around it should help ensure it survives the summer. I am looking forward to it flourishing and offering a splash of colour in that spot in the garden. It is a symbol of keeping a firm hold on life and hope.
I’ve been searching for inspiration in the last weeks and in a helpful way the cloud formations have lifted my eyes upwards. Looking up engages useful parts of our brains when we are seeking new ideas.
However the cloud formations have been inspiring in their own way, bringing me to wonder about them this summer. Often there are fluffy clouds being chased about by the winds and going past at a lower level while high above are the most amazing long, thin clouds, soft puff balls, or wispy brush stroke clouds, or a stretch of cake icing cloud
Photos don’t always do these amazing high cloud formations justice but here is a sample from recent days.
There is often thick cloud about as the sun sets at the moment but we are also getting glimpses through the density of the most stunning, vibrant sunsets.
This one has the thick clouds being pushed along in the wind and a bank of lower thick, grey cloud drifting onto the hills but flashing dramatically in any gaps was this brilliance.