Monday, April 22, 2013

Getting twitchy

While it's true (see below) that trains are looming large for me at the moment, so are birds. They were all over the Hump Ridge Track, even more so on Stewart Island where I saw wild kiwi as well as a stray white heron, more kaka than I could shake a stick at - not that they would have cared if I had, bold rowdy parrots that they are - and then there were the penguins in the Catlins.
Down in Wellington, we went to Zealandia, which is a wildlife sanctuary very close to the centre of the city, where all pests have been eliminated (apart from a few mice) inside its simple-but-effective top-hatted fence, with wonderful results. 'Wildlife' in the NZ context of course means birds, since we have nothing else native, except for some bats, and I was actually perversely depressed by how much birdsong there was. It was loud and varied and glorious: so much better than what had pleased me down in Fiordland along the track, and just shows the terrible effects of those blasted stoats, rats and possums, despite all the traps they maintain.
Amongst all the species at Zealandia are takahe, strange sturdy creatures like monster blue-green chickens, poking into the feeders and looking even odder because the two we saw both had transmitters sticking out of their feathers. They were thought extinct, but rediscovered down in the depths of Fiordland in 1948, and have been conserved since then with moderate success. There are some that have been reintroduced to the wild near Lake Te Anau that cost the taxpayer a phenomenal sum each (not that I'm complaining) but most of them are in managed reserves like this one. It's a worthwhile place to visit, you could easily spend half a day there, chasing the birds with your camera. Not that I had to do much chasing of this tui - I just hung out of our bathroom window here at home.

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