The Kowhai tree on the reserve next to our property is in full flower. My intention has been to gather some very close up photos of the Tui feeding. So far I have been thwarted. The light has been wrong, the birds too wary of me, too many loud noises in the neighbourhood, a busy road, the speed of the birds as they harvest the nectar and tangled branches that obscure that perfect image.
I persisted today and have a few photos I am relatively happy with. Here is one:
However later in the day one of the Tui decided that the three Tom Thumb Bottle Brush bushes that are very close to the kitchen window had plenty of pickings to feed on. Repeated visits happened all afternoon.
Here is a selection of images that I am thrilled with.
It is “that” time of year again in the garden. The time of year when the Blackbird fledglings are bumbling and stumbling out of their nests and are in various places around the garden.
I am so familiar with the “alarm” tweets of the parent birds warning of wandering cats or other dangers. But I am also now very familiar with the soft but gradually insistent “whistlely chirrups” of the fledglings.
Nature has dictated that baby blackbirds fledge with their tail feathers still to grow long and strong and their ability or skill to take shelter in high branches poorly formed. They do not look at all aware of the big bad world they have fluttered into.
I feel for the hard working parents who have devotedly fed several babies and fattened them up beautifully only to then have to find them and feed them in the most obscure and often dangerous places.
Two days ago when the sun shone and the sky was intensely spring blue I could hear two fledglings calling. I found this one here in the Kowhai tree on the reserve on the other side of our fence.
The other was amongst the maidenhair ferns beneath the old Magnolia tree. One quick photo here and I departed very quickly to avoid further stress to the birds.
I scattered food for the hungry parent birds and wished them and their young very well.
I can hear more chirrups already this morning on a blustery spring day. The rain that is forecast for later in the day may help the dedicated parents find better supplies of worms and insects to nourish the family. . Meanwhile I will see what I can find to supplement the food supplies.
As I was watching the Coot chicks at the lake yesterday this Black Shag flew in and stood on the wooden pontoon that is attached to the concrete of the lakeside path.
The wind was perfect for drying feathers because despite being water birds and looking very oily and waterproof these birds must dry their wings. Shags are swift underwater swimmers, with a sharp hooked beak to help them catch fish, eels and small crustaceans. They are often seen sitting on a perch with their wings spread out, drying their feathers. This is because shags’ feathers are not waterproof. This makes it easier for them to dive and stay under water for an average of 20 to 30 seconds per dive (the observed record for kawau is 58 seconds). But it also means the birds quickly get waterlogged and cold. So after a bout of fishing, shags must spend a lot of time preening and drying to restore their feathers and warm up.
This handsome bird kept a very wary eye on me as I approached. The various turns and moves it made reminded me of a conductor in front of an orchestra or of a person relishing the first taste of summer warmth with outstretched arms.
But I also heard this nonsense poem that my Dad used to enjoy…..
The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag
The reason you will see no doubt
It is to keep the lightning out
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.
By Christopher Isherwood.
I had some time yesterday to visit the local lake again to see how the Australian Coot family was doing. We had a taste of summer yesterday with a warm, steady breeze blowing and lots of sunshine.
The Coot chicks have definitely grown and they were out on the more open side of the bull rushes with their ever attentive parents. Despite the choppy water the chicks swim very strongly and are beginning to look a little more like their parents.
The parent birds were keen to keep their young near the protection of the rushes so photographs were a bit trickier but I think you will see the growth that has occurred in 5 days.
The MOTH cleared a small section of garden yesterday with a view to a replant. I have been watching the Song Thrushes in the past weeks as they forage for food on the grass and garden. Usually it is just one bird and its beak is often full of worms as it seeks food for its young.
They are sharp-eyed and very nervous of any movement. In fact they almost have a sixth sense that they are being watched as so often their head tilts and I am spotted from the kitchen window.
This freshly tilled, damp soil was a real treat for the birds and in particular this beauty.
I edged ever so slightly to the right to get a clearer view but my apparently subtle shift was enough to send the Thrush away to safety. Content with one image I left the birds to feed without me adding stress to their life.
They are very beautiful birds.