Sunday, 26 April 2020

Week 16: Urban Wildlife

Walking has kept me sane during lockdown.
As I live on my own I've had no physical interaction with another human for 5 weeks,
so interacting with the feathered and furry creatures on my walks has been vital.
Their song, as I head out every morning, is enough to brighten the darkest of days!
One of the more visible feathered critters that I've interacted with this week has been this
White Faced Heron
He's made his home along the Tamaki Estuary and roosts high in the trees overnight. 
I've seen a fair number of him and his ilk on my daily outings, 
mostly when they're all foraging and feeding in the shallows.
They're always so elegant. And so patient.  
Calmly scanning the water for signs of movement and 
occasionally using a foot to agitate the sediment.  
The only time I've seen one moving quickly over the water 
has been when it was pursuing a fish.  
Which it caught. 
I have a friend who's not a fan as they like to raid her fishpond.
This week I found this one up the trees along the Estuary.  
He's obviously quite habituated to the presence of people 
as he didn't seem the least bit perturbed by my proximity.
So much so that when he was finished with his ablutions 
he simply tucked his neck in and went back to sleep.
I thanked him and went on my way.
"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer
it sings because it has a song."
 ~ Joan Walsh Anglund

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Week 15: Close to home

If Lockdown has had one seriously good impact, 
it’s that we’ve all explored more within our local area 
and found treasures we otherwise might not have noticed.
I’ve always been aware that the Panmure Basis is just a 2.5km walk 
from my flat but had never explored it as thoroughly as I might have.  
Work and other commitments have always got in the way.
Not so over the last few weeks though.
No excuses now.
What else have I had to do but walk!
Panmure Basin is a tidal lagoon (created by a volcanic eruption) and .
ebbs and flows with the tide through the Tamaki Estuary.
There’s an abundance of birdlife here, 
despite it being in the middle of a predominantly industrial suburb.
As the tide recedes the mud’s exposed
and that’s the best time to see the myriad of bird species that feed here.
This is when I wish I had a longer lens.
There’s a well established colony of Pied Shags 
nesting in the corridor that leads to the Tamaki Estuary.
These two were having a bit of a disagreement when I chanced upon them earlier this week.
Today, Sunday, I was privy to a flock of Little Black Shag 
feeding in the lagoon. It was fascinating!
They're gregarious when feeding and were foraging co-operatively in their flock.
What was so interesting was the flock of Red Billed Gulls 
that were following them around the lagoon.
At first I thought the Gulls were harassing them but realised, 
as I watched, that the Gulls were being clever. 
Foraging on mass as the Little Black Shags do, disturbs the lagoon bed 
and the Gulls, well known for taking advantage of any opportunity,
were feeding on any morsels that happened to reach the surface.
It's not often I've seen such a symbiotic relationship between bird species.
Symbiotic for the Gulls that is, not the Shag.
 White Faced Herons also feed here and I think roost here as well.
On more than one occasion I’ve heard their grating call 
in the trees above me as I’ve circumnavigated the lagoon. 
It gives one quite a fright in the early morning darkness.
I’ve seen so many Kingfishers too, and this one 
chose to eat his crab in front of me today.
There's always a flock of Pied Stilts foraging near the edge. 
They amuse me no end with their call when they take to the air.  
It sounds just like yapping dogs. 
They are the most ghangly of birds with their spindly long legs..
There are of course an abundance of Pied Oyster Catchers and Mallard Ducks and Pukeko,
as well as those very visible and loud Spur Winged Plovers.
Rustling in the leaves under the trees always indicates the presence of the
Blackbirds and Thrushes searching for that early morning worm.
They don’t start calling quite as early as the Tui.
His calls accompany me down the road as I make my way to the lagoon.
I love that he starts the day almost as early as I do
and welcome his company as we watch the world wake up.
"Home is a shelter from storms
... all sorts of storms."

~ William J. Bennett

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Week 14: Yellow

It's the colour of happiness.
Sunshine and Spring and Summer
Whenever I think of a stunning summer's day, yellow always comes to mind.
Did you know it's the most luminous colour of the colour spectrum?
And that it catches our attention more than any other colour 
because our eyes process yellow first.
Couple of fun facts there!
When it appears in nature, bright yellow is hard to miss.
Plants use it to attract pollinators and
some animals use it to deter potential predators.
It's hard to miss with it's endless variations in shade.
From the deliciously subtle hues of a butter coloured rose 
to the unapologetically bold statement that a Sunflower makes.
Think of the bright yellow patch in front of a Pied Shag's blue eye.
Quite incongruous but startlingly beautiful.
"There is a sun within every person." 
~ Rumi

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Week 13: Habitat

One of my favourite garden birds to photograph is the Kotare.
With the restrictions of lockdown and walking local,
I’ve been spending my early mornings at the Panmure Basin and Tamaki Estuary.
When the waters are low in the basin, and they've been exceptionally low this last week,
the mudflats are exposed.
It brings the Kotare out en masse. 
There are also hundreds and hundreds of crabs, 
which are what the Kotare are hunting for.
The antics of the crabs are quite extraordinary
Any movement from above sends them scurrying into their burrows 
in an almost synchronised dance.
It looks like the mudflats are heaving ... and then they go still.
A few minutes later the mudlfats start glistening and moving again 
as the crabs pop out of their holes. It’s more than fascinating to watch.
One of my other regular walking destinations, 
out of bounds at the moment due to ‘walking local’ restrictions, is Churchill Park.  
It has a creek running through it and is another favourite habitat of the Kotare.
A year ago, on one of my regular walks there, 
I heard noises inside a tree trunk and wasn’t at all sure what was making them.
So I sat underneath a nearby palm tree to wait and watch.
Imagine my amazement when Mom and Dad Kotare 
started flying back and forth bringing food
to what was obviously their nest inside the tree trunk 
It had been the babies I’d heard inside the tree trunk and,
each time a skink was dropped down to them,
the cacaphony escalated until they’d devoured it.
I wasn’t close enough to get the clarity I wanted
but these were the images I managed to capture.
It was such a special moment.
"We are not responsible for what our eyes are seeing.  
We are responsible for how we perceive what we are seeing."
~ Gabrielle Bernstein


Sooo, when I started this challenge this year I didn't expect to be playing catch-up quite so frequently. A photo a week isn't onero...