Early morning sun begins to touch the tall trees in the garden.
We are experiencing a lovely spell of weather currently. It is a total surprise to us as July is normally a truly winter month. This one has had so many warmer days that spring is arriving early at the moment. With the clear, calm weather we have been having lovely sky both morning and night.
Last evening someone had the ruler out and had drawn lines in the western sky.
I am reading Howard Zehr’s book “The Little Book of Contemplative Photography” and he mentions that “watchfulness” can be a useful approach to receiving images that you might like to photograph.
On a lovely sun-soaked afternoon yesterday I adopted a “watchful” approach and here is what caught my eye in the garden.
Further to my post yesterday about our resident Thrush, came a comment from Jo in Scotland, that my post, our winter and recent earthquakes had put her in mind of this poem…..I agree with Jo so here it is for you all to enjoy.
And the Thrush has been in full voice again here from first light. He is “off for lunch” at the moment, thanks to the noise of a local lawn mowing chap.
The Darkling Thrush
By Thomas Hardy
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.
In my post yesterday I mentioned that as a delightful counterpoint to listening for rumbling earth tremors, and creaking and groaning house timbers or ominous rattling, I had discovered the bird song in the garden to be that of a Thrush or Song Thrush as they can be known.
I have been on to this simply outstanding website and gathered up some bits of information about our very tuneful friend. He has the capacity to sing without pause for several hours I am discovering this morning.
The Thrush is an introduced bird to New Zealand and is found through-out the country. It is a pretty bird with speckles on a proud cream breast. They love to sing from a high branch or on a tree top, although they are often seen on the ground foraging for food.
Here is “my” one- high up on the flowering cherry tree
And then, when not enjoying my proximity, he flew to a neighbour’s Silver Birch tree….can you spot him as a distant blur in the centre of the photo?
These seem to be his current favourite vantage points from which to tell all that this is his territory. Information indicates that at this time of the year as breeding is about to get under way (August through to February) the male thrush sings to inform of his territorial ownership.
The song is distinctive and attractive with many notes repeated several times before another phrase is sung and repeated. NZ Birds online website here has several recordings worth listening to. I was amazed to find that the first two were from 1845 and the early 1900’s in Christchurch and are part of the Natural History Unit Sound Archive.www.archivebirdsnz.com
In spring and summer I am often alerted to a Thrush on the ground by the sound of loud cracking on the concrete path. Thrushes love snails (and slugs) and will work very hard to crack open the shell so they can eat the contents….
So now I need to look for the chorister’s mate and check the trees in our Tall Tree area of the garden to see if I can spot a nest being built in days to come. I think I found a Thrushes’ nest down in that spot last autumn.
Every so often we find a blue-green egg with speckles on it, cracked and empty after a Thrush fledgling has hatched and the egg remains have been tossed out on to the ground.
Do go and visit the website to enjoy the clear and informative photos, sound recordings and data there.
And I will continue to listen to the performance that has been going on for 5 hours now bar a short intermission when the Thrush hopped past my glass sliding door and I swear he winked at me
“With Bold needle and thread” by Rosemary McLeod.
I loved this large, beautiful book that I recently borrowed from the library.
I will borrow it again so I can once again enjoy the gorgeous visual presentation but also the immense amount of information, history, and projects to dream about.
While it is a book about stitching and creating clothes and useful household objects it is also a book about social history/herstory in New Zealand.
Rosemary McLeod is a collector of textiles and fabrics as well as owning a vast library of patterns, designs, and magazines relating to handcrafts of every kind. She also likes creating things from fabric and textiles without using a pattern.
There are plenty of projects and instructions to follow in this substantial book (495pp) dating back from the 1920’s to more recent times. Bags, aprons (I remember my Gran having an apron made from sacking but…
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Thank you for all your kind wishes and messages of support and concern.
We have only felt a few of the aftershocks here but they continue unabated in Cook Strait where the fault-line is shuddering. Others in Wellington City and at the top of the South Island, particularly in Seddon and Blenheim are feeling many, many more of them. I think of them often and wish that the earth would stabilise quietly so they can gain some peace of mind.
Today is back to normal routines for us all and it has required some deep inner strength to confidently leave the house and travel to work, study and appointments etc. We watched people in Christchurch do this and take encouragement from their resolve.
For now it is a calm, cloudy, winter’s morning with birdsong filling the air providing a lovely focus.
Just a quick post to let you know that we have been experiencing some severe earthquakes since Friday. We live 30kms north west of Wellington city and have not felt many of the aftershocks BUT we have felt the large shakes.
The most recent 6.8 magnitude tremor was a very large one and we are understandably feeling on edge.
We have not found any damage in our home so far but we are definitely on alert and have checked our emergency supplies.
Link here to GNS for all the data.
Regular readers will remember that I blogged about a sick hedgehog here. She was named Isra and is being cared for by Jacqui in a Hedgehog Rescue haven. Jacqui has several “hogs” in her care, returning them to good health so that they can be released to a rural property far from roads and relatively free of predators once winter is over.
Earlier this week Jacqui updated Isra’s progress. Isra now weighs a kilo and her new quills are growing now that the mange has been cured. Naturally Isra would like to hibernate but that would stop her quill regrowth and delay her release in spring. In order to prevent hibernation she is being kept very warm on her heating disc again.
Thanks again Jacqui for the treatment and care you have given to Isra and the other hedgehogs in your care :-))
Yesterday I posted a question about this tree that I had photographed in Whanganui earlier this week.
Many blog readers have confirmed that this is a pollarded Plane tree that I posted about yesterday.
Hmmm what does pollarding mean I wondered. One definition is: “Pollarding trees” means cutting them back nearly to the trunk, so as to produce a dense mass of branches. It is sometimes done today for aesthetic purposes and/or to keep a beloved tree from outgrowing its bounds, necessitating removal. But traditionally, it was done for other reasons: the cut branches were either fed to livestock (fodder), burned as fuel or used to make things.
Pollarding begins on young trees, and the process is repeated throughout the life of the tree. Only certain types of trees are suited to pollarding.
One of my Facebook friends who lives in Kent, England offered this additional information: The plane tree is unique in that it collects all the dirt in the air in it’s bark, particularly in areas where there is a lot of traffic, and then the bark flakes off. They are used to keep the air clean in urban areas.
Thanks Amanda. That might be why so many are planted along streets, both very busy and quiet suburban streets, here in New Zealand.
Aren’t trees wonderful! As you walk past a Plane tree on the edge of a street, breath deeply and give thanks to the tree for cleansing the air for you.