Tuesday 23 July 2013

Common or garden slasher

New royal baby - pft. Today's real big event was my being clawed by a tui - that's the thanks I get for going to all the trouble of buying a nectar feeder and keeping it supplied with sugar water. The tui flew into the living room window with a huge crash and when I went out I found it on the deck near a sparrow, which it must have been chasing away from its territory. When I picked up the tui, which was flapping about on the ground looking injured, it struggled and slashed at me with its claws which I learned the hard way are extremely - and, I would suggest, for a nectar feeder unnecessarily - sharp. I'm covered in scratches and holes. It was vicious. (Also scared, naturally.)

I'm glad to say that when I put it down on the grass, it flew away strongly, apparently recovered (as did the sparrow, after some time sitting dazed inside a shoebox). It was only then, of course, that I thought of taking a photo, so above is one I prepared earlier, possibly of the same tui, since they tend to hang around in the same area (territorial, see above).

Altogether, it was a traumatic encounter, on both sides, and I much preferred the civilised and gentle interaction I had with various puffins at the Alaska SeaLife Centre in Seward. You can pay for a behind-the-scenes tour which then takes you into the actual enclosure where all the seabirds live, a big deep tank with rocks and burrows around it and enough air space for gulls to fly. The puffins, dear little clowns that they are, were as cute as expected, and very polite about taking the bait fish and krill that I offered from my bucket. But the show was stolen by Clingy the rhinoceros auklet, who stuck close by our feet and spent quite a lot of time chewing on my shoelace. Very sweet and non-scarring as well - what more could you ask of a bird?

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