Sunday, 31 May 2009
On Thursday I was walking toward the roosting hill as the sun was sinking, clouds of starlings were squabbling over perches when there was a ripple of alarm among them as a falcon came swooping low over the treetops down toward me before turning to disapear around the back of the hill! Awesome! Its been about two years since I had last seen a falcon in this park and unfortunately that bird had come to a sad end. So I was rapt to see another. The light was fast running out but I was definitely going to be back the next night.
I arrived at the park at about 4.30pm on Friday evening and sat at the top step of the amphitheatre facing toward the setting sun. I'd been there less than a minute when there was the roar of a thousand or so beating wings and a falcon appeared from the tops of the trees to my left and shot just a few feet above my head head to skim above the trees to my right and disapear at a great speed. WOW! A few seconds later and the bird returned and zoomed off back to where he'd come from. Again his flight was marked by a roar of wingbeats from the frightened starlings. What a buzz!
It was a lovely evening and I was content to watch swarms of starlings wash in to land around me in a deafening mix of chirping and wingbeats. One of the flocks I noticed appeared to be flying in a much tighter group forming a dense black cloud over the river. As they got closer I realised they were being chased by a larger bird. I assumed it was a harrier as they were so high up but as they got closer the larger bird disapeared amongst the starlings then all of a sudden it dived straight down at incredible speed then levelled off to zoom toward me. It was of course the falcon and suddenly I had hundreds of starlings flying toward me, I'm desperately trying to get my camera to focus on the bird of prey while my viewfinder registers something like the view from the bridge when the starship enterprise hits warp speed! Whew! And a few moments later the birds have all found their perches for the night (although still squawking loudly about it) the falcon has gone and the sky is lit up a most amazing shade of red and orange. The best show in town and all for free! Haven't been back over the three day weekend but at 4.30pm tomorrow night you know where I'll be.....
Thursday, 14 May 2009
Monday, 4 May 2009
I was hanging out the washing when I saw Billy the wonderdog sniffing around in the garden. All of a sudden he went into "hunt" mode, his tail stuck straight up and his body was stiff. He was staring into the greenery behind the carport. I thought he may have sniffed out a mouse so I told him to "get dat mouse boy!" All of a sudden he lunged in and came up with a HUGE rat in his mouth!!! Aaaargghhh!!!! He shook it and the rat turned and sunk its teeth into Bills cheek. The poor dog spat out the rat but it was still hanging off his face. The rat was squealing, I was squealing.....After violently shaking his head a number of times the rat let go and tried to make its escape. Bill jumped on it again and finally killed it. I made a fuss of him and gave him two big bones as a reward. He was bleeding a little from a bite mark on his muzzle but he soon forgot his injury after he got his bones! So check out these nasty teeth.
I have been waiting for the return of the Kotuku at the Apanui saltmarsh recently and I thought I had spotted him there last week. But I only saw him flying over into the reeds and when I later checked the photos I wasn't convinced it was the white heron. Instead I think it was the egret whom I have seen feeding at the Awatapu lagoon lately. But I did take some shots of the spoonbills. A pair was circling over head, spooked into the air by a harrier, and I took this photo as they began their descent. They very suddenly half fold in their wings and almost tumble to the ground in a spectacular fashion before regaining composure just before landing. Goofy birds but very interesting to watch.
On Sunday I went for a walk along Thornton beach. There was some spectacular breakers rolling in from way out in the ocean. There was a divine golden sunset and I photographed a couple of stilts in the orange light.
Today Troy had to work late so I was lucky enough to watch the sun set over my favourite spot on the river. It was a still evening and the starlings were flying in large flocks over the saltmarsh before retiring to their roosts. I can't help but think how lucky I am to live in such a wonderful place!