Sunday night was one of the first crystal-clear, cloudless nights we have had in a long time this summer. While it was cool outdoors there was no wind and the suburb quietens earlier on a Sunday night as people prepare for the week of work ahead.
I needed to go in search of our cat who was also enjoying this special night outside. As I left the house I could hear the welcome calling of our little native owl, Ruru or perhaps more commonly known as the Morepork owl.
The name “morepork” was given to it by European settlers who rightly thought its call sounded like “more pork”, “more pork”. Maori described its call as “Ru, ru.”
Hearing the cry of New Zealand’s only remaining native owl reminds me of my childhood. Summer holidays at beaches that were once remote spots would mean I would often fall asleep listening to the call of this small, sharp eyed, sharp eared owl.
It is special to hear it in such a busy urban environment but once again it is testament to all the effort that has gone into predator control, the establishment of nearby wildlife sanctuaries and the retention of large stands of trees. I hope we hear more owls calling in the night.
Our Tui is back. I like to think of him (or is it a her?) as “our” tui because for the last few years he returns in the autumn and does not leave the area until summer time when I’m presuming he has to find food sources elsewhere.
When we shifted here 20 years ago I used to dream of having Tui in our garden and in the surrounding bushy areas. What I did not know at the time was that many, many people were working to make my dream come true. Our growing population of Tui thoughout the region is due to the establishment of wildlife and bird sanctuaries, the planting of native plants and trees and an ongoing predator eradication programme.
We have just experienced a long dry summer and autumn and the Tui’s return seems a little later than normal, so he is especially welcome this season. Last year we witnessed a Tui trio late in spring. We presume it was the parents with their young offspring.
Our neighbours have a large evergreen magnolia tree which the Tui loves to sit in and sing, sometimes up to an hour at a time. The Tui has a double voice box which allows it to sing the most beautiful fluting notes in addition to croaks, gurgles, twitters and squawks. His recitals are show stoppers and I am fortunate to have a front row seat only a 3 or 4 metres away from him.
We have planted two kowhai trees in our garden and are now nurturing several seedlings from these trees. I hope this small, ordinary contribution makes a difference in years to come in providing food for the growing Tui numbers and to our Tui and his/her families in the future.
Recently on another blog the question was asked: ” Where is your favourite bush walk?” Here in New Zealand that means native bush. My favourite place to walk in the bush is in Otari bush in Wellington.
My parents took us there as children and my parents’ ashes are now buried beneath a young Rimu sapling that we planted in the reserve in 2004. The sapling we planted to commemorate our parents has grown from a seed from the 600 year old Rimu that lives in a different area of this bush. Not only is there the 600 year old Rimu but in the same clearing there is an 800 year old giant.
There are many tracks to follow in this wonderful bush reserve but my favourite is the one that runs from the Northern carpark to the Troup Picnic area. The path is always shaded no matter what time of the year it is. The path tracks alongside the stream through beautiful tall trees, smaller native plants, ferns, tree ferns, mosses and lichens.
Once at the picnic area the stream is very easy to access and it is fun to watch children paddling, searching for small creatures and attempting to dam the flow with rocks.
The calls and songs of the various native birds that live there are a delight.
It is very easy to forget the cares of the world once in the bush. I find it restful and restorative; a place to reflect and remember in; a place to wonder and experience awe.