With Tui visiting the feeder very regularly now we were surprised to find that even with a group of us on the patio nearby over the weekend they still flew in to refresh themselves.
Our visitors enjoyed watching them and like us were surprised at how daring the birds were.
So on the basis of that I set up my chair on the edge of the patio and armed with camera sat and waited. My patience was rewarded.
So here is one of our frequent flyers, up close and personal.
After relentless gales from the northwest we were blessed today with a cool, gentle southerly wind change. That brought us the astounding sound of silence from the noise of the winds, stillness to be outdoors and enjoy it, and warmth from the sunshine.
Jazz made the best of the conditions as he stretched to soak up the prevailing goodness.
It is official. Even the scientists confirm my suspicions. It has been a very windy spring and while we are used to that here in windy Wellington, many of the gales have been much stronger than the usual blustery conditions we live with.
Almost without fail there have been wind warnings forecasting gusts of up to 140kms per hour. Fortunately my particularly patch on earth has a degree of shelter from these northwesterlies. But we have sustained damage, most recently to an old television aerial.
You can see the trees in the tall tree part of our garden taking a buffeting. The fresh leaves of the birch trees are already looking bedraggled and bent in response to the prevailing bluster.
Those are the ones that have survived on the trees. So many have been stripped. In past springs they looked like this.
The rock roses have proved to be hardy and flourishing bushes but the relentless wind sees the crepey flowers brown and shrivel.
And then there are the birds who must be exhausted battling through the endless gusts and the strength of the wind. Look at these two blackbird fledglings sheltering in a sunny and calm part of the garden this afternoon, resting while the parents are off foraging.
As I went outdoors the parent bird flew near me and waited hopefully in the Magnolia tree.
I had nothing to offer him this time but I have been tossing scraps and crumbs out in greater quantities to help the birds survive.
Other parts of the country have been hard hit again today and we are hoping that the winds will abate tomorrow as predicted.
I have been watching the Bottle Brush bushes closely in the past week in the hope that I would see the colourful red brushes emerging. There is nothing yet but I can see plenty of the knobbly cases that the flowers burst from. This is another dish on the Tui and Wax eyes’ menu and provides a colourful show in the garden.
There have been signs of abundant new growth on the three bushes but the cold spring and lack of sunshine has probably delayed the flowers appearance.
This time last year the” table” was well covered with Tui nectar of the bottle brush kind. See this post.
This year I am watching this space, and awaiting developments, as they say…..
Friday last week was another day of high winds so I decided on a day at home using the sewing machine.
I turned on the radio and began to listen to an interview with Professor Gerry Gilmore, a New Zealand born Astrophysicist.
He is the principal leader of the Gaia project. My ears began to prick up more when I heard that the purpose of this project is to map, in 3D, 1 billion stars and the project had begun way back in 1990. Twenty three years is a long time to plan something.
The most precise telescope ever built, with the biggest camera ever made and including 10 mirrors will be launched on Wednesday 20th November 2013 from a site in French Guiana.
The destination of this amazing piece of equipment is 150 million kilometres away in outer space. It needs to be that far away from the sun, the earth and the moon to escape the gravitational pull of these celestial bodies. In order to function at its optimum it needs a gentle, stable environment and one which is shaded so it has a sun shield as part of it.
Pictures of the silicon carbide Gaia can be found here on the Radio New Zealand website.
Apparently the universe is expanding at a rate that is too fast and I would have to say that what I went on to learn from this interview caused my mind to expand at an accelerated rate too.
Gaia will take exquisite measurements of 1 billion stars, measurements equal to measuring a shirt button on the moon from earth.
• It will measure the whole sky, find what is up there and map it.
• And all this will be in 3D. A first for mankind.
• It will measure things in the sky 80-100 times, over 3-5 years because things move and will return to be viewed.
• It will find planetary systems and weigh them.
• Gaia will accurately weigh the Milky Way.
• It is hoped that Dark Matter, which astrophysicists know exists because without it the sun would fly off into outer space, may be understood in greater detail and potentially made visible thanks to Gaia and its technology. Dark matter has mass and can be weighed…..at this point my humble sewing seemed a mere speck in the great body of human achievements.
• It is also hoped that Gaia will discover and explain remnants from the early universe and explain reality around chemical elements and their relationships to earth and human beings.
If all this is not enough it is also hoped that IF Dark Energy is out there, and currently it is just a name and not understood at all, then Gaia might advance learning on this. Super Novae will be studied, critical distance calibration will be fine- tuned and perhaps answers to why the expansion of the universe is accelerating rather too quickly will be found. Suffice to say that learning will be stretched and more questions generated and more evidence accumulated.
The interviewer drew an analogy between this project and the days of the sea-going European explorers in the 1600 and 1700’s.
When Captain James Cook set off for the southern ocean he was tasked with finding land and mapping it. Other European explorers, such as Abel Tasman had reported back that there was land so James Cook had some data to work with. He was successful in mapping the coastland of my homeland and now we have a countryman who is heading an exploration of the heavens above us, seeking a 3D map of it all.
Here is a link to the Gaia project website. I will be following progress come November 20th 2013 with great interest. It feels a real privilege to stand on the edge of such awe inspiring discoveries.
We had another storm hit our area yesterday with gusty winds reaching up to 140kms per hour. Normally we fare reasonably well in a North-westerly but a huge gust of wind just before 5pm last night caused an old television aerial to break loose from its metal plate which had been attached to the gable of the house. The noise of the aerial hitting the roof caused me to check around the property and finally locate the problem.
Our neighbour has a good view of our roof and was able to reassure me that the cabling for the aerial was still intact and the aerial appeared to be wedged around another smaller, modern aerial. I called the emergency services but they were too stretched with other priorities to come and ensure the aerial was not a threat to life or property.
However this morning the aerial had moved considerably and any cabling was no longer visible. While the wind has thankfully gone the rain is falling in a steady and heavy manner so no roof expeditions could be mounted safely.
A call to our local fire station saw this fire truck and four firemen arrive within 10 minutes of my phone call.
They were only too happy to remove the fallen aerial and ensure everything was secure high up on the roof.
It all seemed a very simple task with their correct clothing, footwear and equipment but what really impressed me was their attention to the drills and practices that they used and which they constantly ensure are second nature to their tasks and teamwork.
Three cheers for the Fire Brigade I say!!!! And the three year olds who live across the road loved watching it all and being waved to by the friendly fire crew.