Tag Archives: conservation

My top photo in 2014

Across the Waimanu Lagoon at Waikanae on Sunday, my husband spotted a most elegant, white wading bird. At full zoom on the camera I was able to take a reasonable photograph. My husband thought it could be a White Heron or Kotuku.
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We checked a large information board nearby and it mentioned Cattle Egrets and White egrets and we decided that either was possibly what we had seen. No mention was made of the Kotuku as far as I can remember.
We continued around the lagoon stopping to look up in total amazement at an old Macrocarpa tree fully of nesting Cormorants. (More on that in another blog post to come)

Sadly by the time we reached the shore where the lovely white bird had been it was gone. (By the way the grey, lumpy, downy objects on the muddy shore are cygnets sleeping on the warm, sheltered muddy shore)

Yesterday I checked a couple of websites and learnt that a Kotuku had been seen earlier in the day further north at Foxton. The distance between Foxton and Waikanae is not that great for a large bird to fly with a very steady wind at its back.

I made contact via this website and received a very prompt email response from staff at Te Papa, New Zealand’s National Museum. The expert confirmed, that from my photo, it did indeed look to be a Kotuku. Apparently sightings of one had been reported recently at the Lagoon.

I was thrilled. There have been many sightings of a Kotuku here in Porirua but my efforts to find it have been unsuccessful.

This article I have copied from the Kiwi Conservation Club webpage indicates that this is a rare bird still (Its conservation status is Nationally Critical) and one I hope will continue to grow in numbers.

The kōtuku is highly regarded in Māori mythology. It is believed that the kōtuku is from the spirit land Reinga.

They were thought to be so beautiful that to be compared to a kōtuku was one of the highest compliments you could pay someone.
Māori used their feathers to adorn their chief’s heads as a symbol of power.
When Europeans arrived in NZ, they also began to use the feathers for personal decoration – they used their feathers in women’s hats.
The kōtuku’s beauty was its downfall! Soon after the Europeans arrived, their population plummeted. By 1941 people could only count four nests!
Soon after, their breeding site became a wildlife sanctuary, and people patrolled it during nesting time. Now, the NZ population stands at around 100 – 120 birds.
The White Heron is found all over the world but New Zealand’s population of kotuku are related to the Australian White Heron.
A long time ago the birds came over from Australia and made New Zealand home. Sometimes birds from Australia still fly all the way to New Zealand for a visit.
When they are not nesting they spread out across New Zealand and can sometimes been seen visiting the Chatham Islands and our sub-Antarctic Islands.

Source: Kiwi Conservation Club article.

There are many meanings and symbols attributed to Kotuku. Google will take you to several websites for more fascinating information.

This website page also offers excellent detailed information and photographs.

To have seen one, to have stood and watched its beauty and elegance and to have a record of this sighting was particularly memorable…..I hope for more sightings and more photographs.

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Water on the brain

The entire North Island of New Zealand has been declared a drought area. It is very, very dry and rain is desperately needed. We have been told that there is only 20 days of water left before emergency supplies will have to be used. We are being told to conserve water in any way we can now.
Any water for the garden must be “grey water” collected in a bucket. No more sprinklers or hose use until we get significant rain.

Here is my bucket with grey water from the kitchen sink.
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I also take my trusty bucket into the shower with me for the brief wash that has become. I am slowly going around the garden tipping the grey water very carefully on to the thirsty plants.

Today’s paper has further hints on water conservation. We are also invoking a ditty that my young niece used to tell us when Auckland was in the grip of a water shortage a number of years ago.
“If it is yellow let it mellow,
If it is brown flush it down”

It takes a good deal of mind shifting to capture “grey water”, to be aware of just how much trickles or runs down the pipes and how easy it is to waste water. Fresh water is such a precious resource that is so easy for us to take for granted here in New Zealand where we usually have plenty.
Amidst all the new water saving routines that are being required came a letter from our City council telling me that for at least four days next week there could be very low water pressure or perhaps no pressure at all in the house.

The good news is that it is all part of upgrades to water reticulation services to help prevent problems in the future. If drought periods are to become more frequent here it is very reassuring to know that planning is underway to cope with that eventuality.
So I need to store some water next week to ensure any needs between 10am and 4pm are covered.

Water is certainly on my brain at the moment.

Save our Longfin eel!

Our longfin eel is amazing! It spawns somewhere near Tonga (at the end of its life), its elvers can climb 43 metres up vertical surfaces and it’s as endangered as our little spotted kiwi.

Eel lovers will be descending on Parliament next Tuesday to put a moratorium on the commercial harvesting of longfin eel, so sign our petition and join the march. http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/events/march-longfins

Read more here – http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/saving-our-environment/freshwater-/lifeline-longfins
Longfineel

Crunching the numbers

I’ve completed my annual bird survey today. The instructions were to record the largest number of each type of bird that was seen or heard at any one time – not the total number of each bird over the hour. That was a bit complicated but bird numbers were low in the garden today so it was not as arduous as I thought it might be.

The common sparrow headed the list, followed by wax eyes, blackbirds, chaffinches, starlings, and goldfinches. I could hear a Tui over the road feasting on the red flowering gum trees so that was included too.

Male chaffinch

I blogged about the 2011 bird survey here.

I received an email late this afternoon telling me that a new website is being set up so that I can record any observations relating to nature but it will also be where future annual bird survey results will be loaded. I’m really pleased about that as there are times when I see a new bird in the garden and wish I could tell someone “official” about it.

The other numbers I crunched today were on my blog. WordPress provides a raft of statistical data and I do check my stats regularly. This post will be number 308. My readers have posted 966 comments and I now have 70 blog followers.

Thank you to all my readers. It is very gratifying to know that you enjoy my postings and continue to turn the pages on my blog.

There is an interesting statistic amongst the people who regularly comment on my blog and that is that 4 of them have names beginning with the letter “J”.

I also have a regular group of “likers” and it is always a pleasure to find your “Like” appearing in my notifications.

11 of my blog posts have been “shared” and that seems an extra honour and potentially widens my audience.

Spam wins the day with 1,356 items that have been successfully thwarted at the cyber boundary of my blog and I am very grateful about that.

I began blogging with so much trepidation but now it is almost a habit and I miss the days when I don’t post something. I began writing to satisfy an inner voice but having gathered followers I feel spurred on to provide something that I hope will interest you in some way. My photography interest is proving to be very satisfying to me and that has been a surprise too.

Thank you again for reading, lurking, liking and commenting. You all enrich my days.

Four and twenty blackbirds….?

Well maybe not that many blackbirds in your garden but those of you reading along in New Zealand may like to join in the annual bird count.

And those of you living in different countries may be interested in the information about this survey, as sent in the email to me.

The survey should be done sometime between 30 June and 8 July. Please record the largest number of each species you detect at any one time in 1 hour of observation (not the total detected over the hour). The reason for counting the largest number detected at one time is so that individual birds are not counted twice.

You can be either inside (e.g. in the living room at home or classroom at school looking out the window) or outside (e.g. on a verandah or garden seat). If you have a bird feeder or water bath, you may like to watch the part of your garden where that is. You don’t have to be able to see your whole garden, just part of your garden will do.

I like doing the survey and I always hope a rare and exotic bird will appear so I can include it in my tally. Last year the week after the survey I spotted two lovely Eastern Rosellas alight on my deck railing, call to each other, and then they were gone. Fingers crossed I’ll get an unusual visitor this year as I sit and bird watch.

Things that can stop your heart

Yesterday, and again this morning, were times when my heart took a lurch or two.

Some lurches were favourable to my heart’s well being, others were not so friendly.

The first pleasing surprise came in the form of a letter from the Accident Compensation Commission telling me that they will fund the refurbishment of my precious orthotics. My orthotics keep me strong and stable after a nasty ankle fracture a decade ago so I am very thankful that a wise decision has been made to ensure my ongoing strength and stability.

Later in the day the DX mail delivered the monthly power and gas bill. The shock of that was a rather less heart soothing affair. We have used triple the amount of gas heating this month as we did in the same month last year. It has been very cold here so far this winter, hence the increased consumption of gas energy to keep us warm.
Fortunately the fortnightly income had increased substantially which means reduced stress over how to pay this and other regular bills. Whew, heart beat nice and steady.

And this morning when I turned on my laptop I received a message from the virus protection software telling me the ominous news that the Identification Protection had an error and no matter what I tried the “repair” option would not work. However after a restart and waiting a short time the error cleared after I pushed the “fix” button yet again and calm returned.

But the most heart warming and encouraging news from yesterday was when I listened to an interview on the radio with Bunker Roy of the Barefoot College initiative.

The focus on empowering women, on building on the knowledge held by indigenous peoples, using Grandmothers to learn new skills and pass them on, on sustainable energy and low costs, as well as many other commendable initiatives is a model I feel the world needs a lot more of.

It was refreshing to hear some positive news about progress and development around the world. My heart lifted immeasurably.

Living waters, quilting and ceramics

We have been in the midst of a huge winter storm system since Friday. The wind has shaken the house at times, the thunder has shaken the house at times and the heavy rain and hail have pelted against the windows and roof. There have also been periods of calm and dry within all this extra high energy.

This is all set against the news in the past few days of more earthquakes in Japan, the Pacific, Christchurch and a sizeable tremor located in Taupo but felt here in various degrees of severity. The Kermadec Islands jolt set off Tsunami watches here and with three family members living or working close to the coast my antennae were well up for an hour or two until the “watch” was lifted. A tornado hit an area 35 kms north of where I live and that has put an increased alert in my mind too. There seems much to be aware of right now.

Set against all this weather and the forces of nature it was with delight that I noticed patches of blue sky during the morning and so I set off to watch a DVD being shown outside our main public library.

This DVD featured 2 or 3 episodes in the Living Waters, Tiakina Nga Taonga – Protect the Treasure series. The makers plan to make a new episode each month for a year celebrating the unique ecology, diversity and beauty of the Porirua Harbour and the piece that I see on an almost daily basis, the Pauatahanui Inlet.

I felt transported into a much calmer space as I sat and enjoyed the small creatures, the fish, the birdlife, and the plants that inhabit both the Inlet and its fresh water sources. The humans featured on the episodes ranged in age from young school age children to elderly, all of whom were learning about this wonderful environment and contributing to the maintenance and knowledge of a very unique eco-system.

I see on the website that there are episodes online that I have yet to view so if the forecast “systems” in this storm arrive I can look forward to watching those at home.

I then went to the nearby gallery and enjoyed the exhibition mounted by the Coastal Quilters and artists from the local Gear Homestead group. The range of colour, pattern and individual creations was stunning. It was a visual feast.

Refreshed from this outing I am pleased to report a lull in the weather currently which I am really enjoying.