The last morning I walked down to the bottom paddock to milk the cow before we brought them up here for grazing for a few weeks, I noticed a pair of Paradise ducks with a new brood of ducklings. They were swimming out of our small creek into the big one. A few days later, when the boys went down to play, Mr. Imagination soon came up to get his camera because they were back in the small creek. He got these pictures. Aren’t they cute!
Mr. Imagination, who is my nature-loving, scientific sort of child, spent a couple of weeks recently taking photos of all the birds he could see around here. This wood pigeon posed for him on top of the electric pole.
The flax bush just outside our windows is blooming this year, and we’re enjoying the tuis that come to drink the nectar! Sometimes, there are as many as three at once, and then there are fights over the blooms.
Another day, Mr. Imagination and Little Miss created hammocks for themselves from old feed bags and baling twine, after hearing about some children who did it in a story I was reading aloud.They enjoyed their hammocks for a couple of days, till the stitching at the bottom of the bag came apart.This happened on still another day—Mr. Imagination gave Miss Joy a ride on a boogie board!
We’ve been seeing wood pigeons around here quite a lot lately. They are huge, beautiful birds. For awhile, they were landing on the tiny ends of branches on the neighbor’s tree, just outside our living room window, and eating something on the tips of the branches. There must have been tiny berries; I really don’t know for sure. They would often hang upside down, pecking at whatever it was. One morning, the sun was shining on the pigeon we saw, and I was able to snap these photos.
A pair of plovers nested in the middle of the park across the street from us. The person who did the mowing left a large area uncut around the nest. We were privileged to see the babies the day they hatched—three tiny balls of fluff! A few days later, one of our cats followed us across the road when we went to milk the cow in the paddock next to the park. The cat caught sight of the baby plovers—and grabbed one. Simon took off after her as she raced back home, and was able to rescue the unhurt baby and return it to its distraught parents. The last we saw of the family, they still had three babies, but they seem to have moved on to a safer place.
These birds are more prosaic, but we are glad to have them! We bought 70 day-old chicks in June, and Mr. Diligence raised them. We kept 20 to supply us with eggs, and sold the rest. He wants to try this again next year. He didn’t make a lot of profit, but since he has no other income he’s grateful for even small amounts. We’re enjoying having grass-fed eggs again! It’s been a long time.
We have a very large New Zealand flax plant outside our window. We have been enjoying watching the birds and bees pollinating it since it started blooming.
First, the flower stalks grew buds.
Then, the flowers opened.
Sometimes, this tui comes to call.
There are always bees around.
We also see a lot of starlings getting a drink of nectar. They end up with an orange cap on their head! I haven’t gotten a good picture of that, so here’s the best we could do.
Here’s another starling.
A bellbird has been coming, too, but it’s shy enough that if it sees the camera it is gone. This is the best I could get of it.
We are really enjoying the birds as they enjoy the flax flowers!
In other words, flying flytraps! Since we leave the doors open for ventilation on warm days, and have no screens, we often have fantails in the house these days! They are such cheery little birds. They are so friendly they remind me of the chickadees we had in Michigan in the winter. They eat insects, though. As they swoop through the room, you can often hear a sharp little click as they catch another fly! That makes them welcome guests, you can imagine. I’ve been trying to get pictures of them in the house, but they move so fast it’s hard to catch them. That’s how I ended up with a picture of one taking off in flight. If you listen closely to the video of one, you can hear a faint twittering. It was a lot louder in real life, but apparently the sound capture isn’t real good on my camera. If you want to hear it better, go to this page, click on the sound icon, and choose “South Island fantail, male song.” Oh, and by the way, we’re studying birds, insects, bats and flying reptiles this year for science. We recently had a lesson about feathers, and one type of feathers is bristles. Bristles are found around the mouths of insect-eating birds. When we looked closely at the fantails in our house, we could see the bristles! They apparently help the bird to catch insects in flight. The bristles touch the insect and then the bird can turn to grab the insect.
We were all glad when some more hatched to keep him company, because he would set up such a racket when he wanted attention. He loves to ride on shoulders, but only one person likes it. He leaves “calling cards” behind!
He calls this chick his peregrine falcon!
After our hike around the Kaikoura Peninsula Sunday, when we were waiting for Gayle to bring the van back around to pick us up, the children who were with me, and I, were quite amused by the sounds of the shags going to bed in the tree above us. A shag is a large bird that lives along the coast; I think they eat fish. They sleep in trees, and when each one comes in for the night they apparently have to discuss the day! The sounds they make are so funny that I tried to capture them in this video so you can enjoy it, too.