And here the photos I took on a lovely sunny day as the Waxeyes (Maori name: Tauhou) worked their way amongst the brushes on the Bottle Brush bush, supping on nectar.
Recently we spent some time up on the Kapiti Coast. The weather was perfect and once the heat began to ebb from the day we went to explore the walk along the Waikanae river that is accessed from the Otaihanga Domain.
When we had young children and when my mother lived near this spot we spent many happy times there.
The Domain is a very large flat grassy area which is perfect for ball games and for children running and playing. It is circled by many leafy trees such Weeping Willows which provide shade and opportunities to climb. It also has the benefit of being a more sheltered spot from our trade mark winds. Many people picnic there. And I see from the link to Otaihanga Domain that there is now a very impressive children’s playground.
The river forms the boundary on one side of the Domain and allows for paddling and dabbling and swimming if there is enough water in the river.
Across a suspension bridge is a path to the left which leads to the beach or other branches which can lead to places we have yet to explore.
My eye was drawn to the light on the water as we crossed over the bridge.
And then as we moved down the river pathway.
A Pukeko family were drawn to the water to dabble casting their own effects on the water and the light playing on it.
I felt freed from the many pressing challenges that have been part of my daily life for a long time as I watched the light and its interplay with the water. It is impossible to know what the exact dynamics were but that added to the mystery which attracts. And if it was the water playing with the light or the light playing with the water it did not matter in the least as the flow of both was so soothing and relaxing.
This quote from artist James Turrell, that popped into my email inbox minutes before I began to write this post, has added an even more interesting dynamic for me to reflect on deeply.
I mean, light is a substance that is, in fact a thing, but we don’t attribute thing-ness to it. We use light to illuminate other things, something we read, sculpture, painting. And it gladly does this. But the most interesting thing to find is that light is aware that we are looking at it, so that it behaves differently when we are watching it and when we’re not, which imbues it with consciousness. – James Turrell
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.)
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.
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.
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.
After further observation since Friday I could see that the two Tui fledglings were spending a lot of time in the Mahoe tree in our garden. I had seen the parent/s return to feed their young and when the gales subsided there were times when I could hear the now familiar squeaking calls.
No matter how much I tried the little point and shoot camera, with its limited zoom lens, was not going to capture these two young birds at such a special time in their lives.
I have no idea how long the “twins” will remain dependent on the parent birds so I figured a call to action was needed today.
The weather is foul with driving drizzle swirling on the back of a very gusty southerly wind. The fledglings are wise and shelter within the Mahoe, sometimes together and sometimes a branch or two away from each other.
My son has a swish Canon camera with a stronger zoom lens and he was happy to pop over late this afternoon and brave the elements in an effort to take some photos for me. The light was awful due to the low cloud and drizzle and to make matters worse the sun was breaking through at the perfect angle to spoil shots. The incessant, gusting wind of up to 50kms at times meant trees thrashing about and the little birds being blown about very vigorously at times. And the birds were particularly active.
But here are some of the results.
The parent bird returned at one point and the fledglings flew into a birch tree calling demandingly. Here they are hoping the parent will return to them with food while the storm buffets them with some ferocity.
The lyrics of this well-known song date back to the 1940s for the film adaptation of “Pinocchio” and begin…….
”When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you”
By Ned Washington, Leigh Harline.
Here are the emerging, delicate white star flowers on the garlic chives. They look good enough to make a wish on.
My wishes for more native birds appearing in my garden have continued to come true this week. Another slight thud on a window heralded the sight of another (or the same) Shining Cuckoo that I blogged about here.
This time the wee bird was ready to fly away very quickly. These Cuckoos migrate in autumn to various Pacific Islands such as New Caledonia and the Solomon’s. The navigation skills they possess to achieve that journey are impressive. Their ability to avoid window panes in New Zealand is not so good.
Earlier today I heard a bird noise that sounded foreign to me. It was a high pitched squeaking sound that was rather persistent. Then late this afternoon the sound was much closer and I discovered a mature Tui and its very newly fledged youngster in the Tulip Magnolia near the sugar water feeder.
By the time I came outside with the camera the birds had flown. However the insistent squeaking noise was not far away and I found the fledgling again in the Mahoe tree in the tall tree area of our garden.
The parent bird flew off as I crept closer but my eye was caught by another fledgling bumbling about in the variegated Griselinia.
It would seem that the adult birds have bought their twins to my garden to feast on the Mahoe berries and with the sugar feeder not far away. Or better still they have nested here and raised these young.
It is almost impossible to gain clear images as the wee birds wisely remain amongst the thick foliage up high in the trees. Neither of these fledglings have wattles and their yellow edged beaks were still visible to my eye as they moved about the branches. Their agility has yet to develop and some of their feathers had a downy look still. They are very newly out of the nest.
And in further exciting bird news please link here to Toya’s blog where she has posted about her amazing successes at Zealandia over the past two days. Her photos of the Stitchbirds and today the Eastern Rosella feeding its four hungry babies are simply stunning and very informative and special.
Here is a link to a website for counting Keruru.
Look at this stunning photo that someone snapped!
A new month and a welcome award gifted to me by Zahra
Part of the award involves sharing 7 things about me:
1. I like blogging
2. I believe that ordinary things can make a difference
3. I love the native birds in my country
4. I am learning lots about digital cameras and photography
5. I have a second blog here
6. I am a keen genealogist
7. Gardening s a passion for me
Please refer to my blogroll for some of my favourite blogs. Thanks again Zahra and go well with your blog.
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.
The past week has had some dispiriting aspects to it but the cheering news from me is about the native birds.
Each morning this week, Korimako (such a beautiful name) the native Bellbird has been in and around my garden with its glorious clear, sweet bell-like song. A neighbour has a large Bottle brush tree which is currently covered in red flowers containing nectar. Bellbirds are like Tuis and love nectar. Their beak is shaped to drink the nectar from the neck of the flowers. So the Bellbird has discovered an abundant site to enjoy breakfast and thrill me with its song.
Also during the week I have heard the Grey Warblers again. They have been quiet of late, presumably raising their young or those of the Shining Cuckoo. Last night I spotted a pair of Fantail flitting chirpily around the garden. Their return indicates that autumn is here and they will be around until spring when they move elsewhere.
I’ve heard Tui song from time to time but I am expecting them back in numbers soon if my blog records continue to predict this event.
When I was growing up the sight and sounds of our native birds was generally something reserved for museums and exhibitions where we could view stuffed birds and listen to audio of their song.
To hear and see an increasing range of native birds in my garden is such a joy and so uplifting in the face of indifferent news.
And the final part of last night’s sunset is worth sharing too:-)