Tag Archives: Kowhai trees

Stillness and Light

Earlier in the week, as the last hour of sunshine filled the garden and the incessant wind had dropped, I went into the garden with my camera.
Lovely light on the Kowhai tree leaves.
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Even the Tuis were happy to sit still for me on this occasion.
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We could hope for more of the same with summer officially beginning this week.

Patience required, magic can happen

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:
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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.
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Macro Tui food

Two weeks ago I headed out in our back garden with the camera on Macro setting to record the intricate beauty of Kowhai tree flowers. I love the intense golden colour of these flowers which provide so much nourishment to the Tui from the nectar within each flower.

Kowhai tree flowers

Kowhai tree flowers


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Tui have an articulated tongue that has a fibrous brush like tip that allows them to harvest the nectar from these tubular flowers.
The final photograph shows some of the damage that results from vigorous drinking by the Tui.
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In an interesting side note. Kereru (Native Wood Pigeon) eat these flowers rather than sup the nectar.

Yesterday before the rain

The weather forecast mentioned increasing cloud and rain. That all seemed to come in a little earlier than forecast so with the clouds thickening as a warning we headed out for a short stroll at Aotea Lagoon. Our timing was perfect and we enjoyed the sheltered area near the small duck pond and rose garden.
No spring baby water fowl were in evidence and the stunning flowering cherry tree was still to burst forth but there were some other lovely colours to soak up and record with the camera.
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Kowhai trees in full flower at Aotea Lagoon, Porirua

Kowhai trees in full flower at Aotea Lagoon, Porirua


Iceland Poppies

Iceland Poppies


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This Wisteria will be a mass of flower and fragrance in the next week. I suspect the colour of the flowers will deepen as more emerge.
Wisteria at Aotea Lagoon, Porirua

Wisteria at Aotea Lagoon, Porirua

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Today is wet, windy and cold again. Truly spring in Wellington.

A table for two?

The large Kowhai trees across the road have begun flowering this week and the numbers of Tui circulating in the area has risen dramatically. The air is full of the sound of their calls and their wing beats.

Word has spread amongst the birds about the sugar water feeder in my garden. So food is available across the road in the Kowhais, the Banksia and the Protea and drinks are on tap here.
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Yesterday in the better weather there were a lot of Tui visiting the feeder at lunch time. These two were not initially happy with seating arrangements.

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But after some flapping and shuffling about peace was agreed upon and drinks were shared.DSCF0556

Later in the afternoon there was significant fence hopping between the larger male and the smaller female. The various songs, calls and squawks alert me to this dance and I recognise these behaviours from earlier in the year. It was not long after the fence dance then that I found the fledglings in the tall trees in the garden.
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Spring and new babies are not far away for the Tui.

Wednesday Warbler

With the breeding season behind them now the birds are becoming more visible and their songs more audible. Yesterday I could hear the beautiful song of the Riroriro or Grey Warbler and as I sat looking at the Tall Trees section of the garden I could see a tiny bird flitting amongst the branches.

A closer look confirmed that it was the Grey Warbler, surrogate parent of the Shining Cuckoo ( in the photo below. Note the difference in size between the tiny warbler pictured further down the post and this Cuckoo.)
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Grey Warblers only eat insects so it was hunting time for small insects to be found in the trees. I went out into the garden with the camera in the hope of getting a clearer photo than this attempt last year in March. DSCF4843

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I was fortunate to find the little warbler on the aged kowhai tree on the reserve. The remarkable feature I saw and heard was this male bird singing its heart out, all while grazing for food. It is stunning to watch such a little beak cleverly move along leaves and branches while also creating beautiful music.

Male Grey Warbler or Riroriro Feb 26th 2014

Male Grey Warbler or Riroriro Feb 26th 2014

It was a but a brief moment or two before the wee bird flew across the road to a large bottle brush tree for more fine pickings and to serenade the neighbours.

Other posts about the Riroriro here
Here
Here

Tui Tucker

Some of our learned scientists are wondering if New Zealand is experiencing a “masting” season after a warm winter which has seen plenty of rain fall.
A “masting” season is when the native trees produce an exceptionally heavy crop of seeds thus providing abundant food for many of our native birds and ensuring the regeneration of native trees once the birds have eaten the seeds.
There is a downside to a “masting” season as numbers of rodents and ground dwelling predators have an abundant food supply too which means young birds are at greater risk.
Before seeds come flowers and a “masting” season could account for the bounty of Griselinia flowers in my garden and the abundance of kowhai flowers on every Kowhai tree at the moment.

These flowers on a tree in the St Alban’s Church grounds at Pauatahanui were feeding two Tui while I visited yesterday.

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Such intense gold and delicate beauty providing nectar to the birds.

Dainty dessert?

The air is full of Tuis here at the moment.

Tui on flax

Tui on flax

They are thronging to the neighbour’s kowhai trees which are dripping with flowers full of nectar.
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Tui feeding upside down in a kowhai tree

Tui feeding upside down in a kowhai tree


As I posted here they are enjoying a bath in our spouting before or after feasting on the kowhai nectar.

They like to preen and dry their feathers in the Griselinia trees in our garden before flying away.

Griselinia littoralis "variegata"

Griselinia littoralis “variegata”

However this week I have noticed a lot of activity within the trees with Tuis hopping about the branches and appearing to nibble at some part of the tree.
Here is what they are enjoying.
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Griselinia flowers

Griselinia flowers


These are the flowers of the Griselinia and are another favourite food for Tuis. I’m guessing these dainty delicacies are dessert after the main course of kowhai nectar. The tree is covered in these tiny flowers.

As my blogger friend Gallivanta commented on Monday’s post we really are offering a bird resort here in the garden. There’s pleasant satisfaction in that.