Saturday, 22 September 2007

Fernbirds at Ohiwa


I saw the falcon in the park again today, he was perched in a tall tree where a pair of tuis were swooping around him making a fuss. He was scanning the park for something to turn into breakfast. A fantail flitted around his head coming within inches but he ignored it. I read somewhere that fantails have a flight pattern that fails to stimulate the prey drive in a falcon.( Check out the photo, you can see the fantail to the right of the falcon.)

Finally he spotted a duckling and took off to the stream but he was unsuccessful in his attack. I didn't get there in time to see what happened but I saw him fly off.


I worked on my pukeko collage this morning. Its coming on well but I feel I need more of a three dimensional aspect to it....I'm thinking I need to add some real feathers. I took off at lunchtime to stay with Mum and Dad in Opotiki. I stopped at the Nukuhou Saltmarsh viewing point and went down the boardwalk to see if I could call up a fernbird. I stood at the end looking out over the beautiful expanse of "oi oi" (native rushes) in its lovely soft colours of rust and orange and burnt sienna. I practised my best fernbird call hoping no-one was witnessing my technique. I can't even begin to explain how I mimic the hi pitched "chitt chitt" noise they make suffice to say I look pretty stupid doing it! BUT blow me down if a bird didn't answer me from the undergrowth! I "chitt chitted" again and a fernbird popped up in a nearby bush and sang a song at me (that incidentally sounded nothing like the noise I was making!) I had enough time for one photo before he realised he'd been sucked in and took off in disgust. No matter how much I "chitt chitted" all I succeeded in doing was give myself a headache.

Further on I saw a pukeko dead on the road but it was well squashed. Perhaps if there had been no traffic I would have stopped but I do have some self-respect! Mum and I delivered lots of our exhibition invites around Opotiki then back at the house Mum gave me a present she'd been saving for me - a rats skull, way cool! (Only a special kind of Mum saves you rat skulls.)


Mum and I went for a walk along the Ohiwa spit to see what interesting shorebirds we could see. The first part of the walk was past a whole lot of oi oi so Mum asked me to call up a fernbird for her. We sat down in the rushes and I started my imitation noises. One called back. I called and it called back again then we heard one from a different direction. The three of us had a conversation only I had no idea what it was I was saying. Just call me the fernbird whisperer. We saw a couple of fleeting glimpses as they flitted briefly up from the vegetation. They are so shy its no wonder lots of people don't even know they exist. Then I gave myself a headache again!

I saw some really beautiful shorebirds out on the sand that I'd never seen before. Not sure what they were, perhaps pacific golden plover or sharp-tailed sandpipers? I took this photo but I couldn't get close so its a poor quality image. Can someone please tell me what they are? Such georgous markings.

Didn't see any godwits, I think they were all on tern island.

Saw some NZ dotterels, they are just starting to colour up and get their orange breasts. There were two lovely little banded dotterels too but I couldn't get very close to them.

I found lots of treasures on the harbour edge, a kingfisher skull, some cool crabs and a dead blackbird. I put them all in a plastic bag and hid them in the back of the car than went to pick Troy up from work. I had to spray some perfume around the inside of the car to hide the dead bird smell. When I got home I buried the bird so it can finish decomposing. I'd like to learn how they clean skulls for museums and stuff. But I think they use acid and I don't know where to get that from....oh and interestingly enough, I'm related to the famous acid-bath murderer who lived in England and murdered an old couple then dissolved their bodies in acid. He was immortalised in Madam Tussauds Wax Museum in London. They found him cause the old ladies false teeth didn't dissolve. Oooh maybe I should be worrying in case I've inherited that gene. Some people may think my fascination of skeletons etc is morbid but really I'm just fascinated at how things are put together. I marvel at the construction of bones, how tiny the frame is inside a bird and how that amazing combination of bones flesh and feathers can create such awonderful creature. If I am to paint something then surely the better I understand how it works the easier it is to capture its essence on paper or canvas. Thats my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

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