Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chicks and choppers

This morning, at the very moment that I was writing about the helicopter trip I took with Heliview in New Plymouth last week, another chopper being used to set up the seven-storey Christmas tree down at Viaduct Harbour in the city got tangled up with a pole and crashed in a muddle of metal. Fortunately the pilot wasn't seriously hurt - though as TV cameras were there filming the whole thing, his professional standing has taken a bodyblow and he's never going to live it down.

It was my fourth helicopter ride: the first was a mere hop across Lake Wakatipu after finishing the Greenstone Valley Trail, but the second was the real thing, swooping around in the Red Centre in Australia to get another perspective on Kings Canyon, which is spectacular enough seen from your own two feet, but even more amazing from the air. The third was great fun too, whale-spotting at Kaikoura one golden evening, hovering over a sperm whale as it came up to breathe and rest, and then buzzing back across the water to land on a bluff high over the bay. And then there was the Taranaki trip, when sadly we couldn't fly up to look into the crater of the mountain which was covered in cloud that day, though we did still get great views of that green-as countryside. I enjoyed all of the trips, thanks to expert and laid-back pilots who made it all seem super-safe. Ha!

And in other aerial news, I rescued a young thrush that I found this morning lying on its back on the road when I was out walking (after being hit by a car, I fancy, rather than just having chosen an inappropriate spot for a bit of a zizz). I brought it home and put it in the cat basket under a towel to see if a rest in the dark might do the trick - and happily it did. After an hour or so it was recovered enough to fly away as good as new. Yay, I thought, and wandered into the garden to pick flowers. Where I found the tiny corpses of two baby blackbirds lying on the grass, blown out of their nest perhaps or possibly preyed upon by other birds - magpies? - and dropped. Won one, lost two. Damn.
(Photo by Dean Mackenzie)

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