Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Australasian Bittern

Tuesday evening while walking down the road through our property listening to Matata calling we disturbed an Australasian Bittern in the wetland by the road. Occasionally we see it in the area and sometimes two of them. Fantastic. They probably see us all the time but are so perfectly camouflaged that we almost never see them.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Ngunguru Wader Census and Ratty's Landing Ramble

We had a wonderful day today.

This morning the dedicated local group of birders counted waders and other birds around the north end of the Ngunguru Estuary and Sandspit. We do this on a regular basis. This is always good value and interesting. We were to have a picnic at the beach after the count but it was too windy so te crew came to Ratty's Landing and had the picnic on our deck where we talked of birds, nature, conservation etc over lunch.

This was followed by a ramble about our wetlands and adjoining property led by the very knowlegable Nan Pullman. She has really inspired us to know more about this great place we knew we had. The first stop was to proudly show our Matata (Fernbird) to the group. We discovered that we had a new family when they flew about in a small area immediately in front of the group with everyone getting a good view. Darling untrained performers. It was as if they knew the drill. We do know that we had at least six Matata. Now we must have eight in this small area.

Nan then led us about the wetland and into the bush on a journey of discovery into rushes, plants and trees.
It made our day.

Chris Buckley, Geologist, discovered that we have very interesting, and for this area, unusual clay in our road bank. More on that later when we know more about it.

This is what I like about living in one place for more than 6 months, we are getting to know this piece of land we are caring for and its great. Just last week Hilton found we had a Clematis growing in our bush. It is not far enough up into the canopy to be flowering but its a substantial vine so hopefully in a couple of years we will see the flowers out on the canopy.
Since living here we have been careful about what we remove in the way of vegetation as we are not always sure its a native so we let it flower and thats usually when we can tell if its a keeper or can make way for something that may normally live in or beside the bush. This mind set is proving to be a very good thing as we have some delightful finds. Like the Onion and Leek Orchids, quite insignificant plants and flowers but part of this land and its nice to see them very early spring popping up out of the seemingly inhospitable clay ground.
And  now we know its not just any old clay ground thanks to Chris Buckley.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Fantail chicks

Two weeks ago we noticed the first of the Fantail chicks. I could hear the tiny chatter of young chicks as I came up the walkway. Sure enough there in the Kanuka were four young chicks being fed by two adults. The chicks do not have the markings of the parents so are just dark heads and quite brown chests. Just so sweet.
But they are not able to handle cool weather.This day was cloudy enough for them to be crowding each other out on a branch. I had to smile, they reminded me of piglets trying to keep warm.  There is plenty of food for them but four chicks are a lot to feed. We have read that its usually the male that feeds the fledglings as the female starts to sit on another clutch, so we were interested to see two adults feeding these little guys.
Grey Warbler is also feeding chicks in the Kanuka, its all very busy with young birds around here.
We have noticed Green Finches this year. That is great to see as when we first moved here we did not see any. The trapping and baiting for rats is working. (sorry Ratty)

The last photo was taken on the walk to to the Tutukaka lighthouse. This chick and its siblings were being fed in a sunny spot on a cold day. To warm up they fanned their wiwngs out.

The vegetable garden is taking shape but some things are slow and today I discoverd the runner beans I planted early just rotted. Maybe they had got damp in the packet, but now I am several weeks behind.
Fantail chicks keeping warm

Tucker time

This chick was keeping warm on the lighthouse track