It “spooned” through the shallow water, sweeping with its bill left and right with some speed and skill and I watched a fish or two being caught and swallowed.
The bird was not happy with my presence once it heard my foot fall on the dry, crackly leaves and grass. Its flight away was magnificent to watch. Its broad white wings were strong and moved it through the air with apparent ease and grace, up and away to the greater safety of the Pauatahanui Inlet.
It has been apparent for a few days now that the adult Tuis no longer want to feed their young. The fledglings can be very insistent about wanting their parents to feed them. However the squeaking calls are fewer and generally less persistent.
But on two occasions this week there have been some very strident exchanges between parent and child. Mostly these exchanges have happened in the tulip magnolia tree and have been impossible to capture by camera but we have certainly heard great flapping, screeching, squawking and lots of branches and leaves crashing about.
Last evening a very dramatic exchange happened between fledgling and father on the fence and I managed some photos.
It began near the feeder, which was empty, and the father bird flew in as the fledgling was looking sadly at the empty dish. The father’s arrival caused the fledgling to fly on to the fence. At this point the fledgling is on the right in the photo.
And squeaking all the time it approached the father bird along the fence.
Feathers almost flew at this point and you can see the fledgling on the left at full spread, imploring Dad to feed it. Dad was having none of that and was equally loud and aggressive back at his offspring.
Action was high.
Then, just as suddenly as it began, the male adult flew off and the fledgling retreated to the magnolia.
I then refilled the feeder and heard the fledgling come down through the branches as it returned to seek some nourishment.
I now recognise the mother and father birds but I am still unsure how many fledglings have been in and out of the tulip magnolia and feeding at the sugar water feeder. Four appeared in the garden during the days between the 6-8th February and I think there have been two different ones at the feeder in the past 10 days but like all teenagers they like to appear the same so I cannot be sure.
Certainly the parents have finished with their brood and now I am watching for the development of the characteristic white wattle feathers at the throats of the young. These are the feathers that earned Tui the name of “Parson bird” by the early European settlers to New Zealand.