'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Spot the birds

Last Sunday just after breakfast I was sitting at the picnic table in front of the first tree opposite the little beach settlement of Kaiaua, just north of Miranda. I had with me a telescope and camera. There was thin cloud, a cold brisk wind, and it was about 90 minutes after high tide. This information is included so I sound like a proper twitcher.

With the help of photoshop, with which I've stuck three images together and moved a few birds around, I present to you, this panorama.

I was there mostly to see the first bird: the Eastern Curlew. An unusual visitor, it should be up in Russia breeding by now, and rarely comes to New Zealand at all, even in summer. It's the biggest wader with a wingspan of over a metre, and there are only about 20 thousand left. Look at that magnificent decurved bill (down-curved beak).

There are eight other avian species in the panorama. I've enlarged them. Spot the little ruddy turnstones near the caspian tern and the two NZ dotterals directly above. There are only about 1700 left of these.

The ducks probably find the beach a safer haven than the inland ponds at the moment. Don't worry ducks! Duck sooting season will be over soon (5/5 - 31/7).

The last image, as you have probably guessed, is not a wader at all, but a member of the domestic cat family. There are plenty of these left. In fact, they are probably not likely to be endangered anytime soon. This one was directly across the road behind me and had been watching me with interest the whole two hours I was there sketching and photographing.


  1. Great twitching, Katherine. I enjoyed the evenings I spent on the Firth at the water's edge with the flocks of waders and some loners too. As you may have gathered I love birds but despite living 100 yards from the sea I rarely go down to its edge to appreciate the waders. The familiarity of proximity. How sad am I?

  2. I was just having another look at this and a huge wave of homesickness for NZ came over me. That is SO unusual. In fact so unusual that I just had to mention it. I don't usually suffer from homesickness for anywhere. I live where I am.

  3. Nice work Katherine. If you had been using my son's girlfriend's digital SLR camera, the clarity and focus of the sectioned pictures would have been crystal clear and sharp and you would have been even more satisfied with your individual crops. Perhaps your children can pool together and buy you one for Christmas?

  4. Just back from another Miranda visit - taking the family this time...
    Thank you for your comments

    GB - Sometimes I think it's nice to enjoy the potential of something. But it is nice to actually DO it too.
    Don't be too homesick - it's blimmin cold here today! I think we're going to get some snow on the central plateau in the next day or so.

    Thanks YP. Actually I do have an SLR - a canon EOS400D, and these were taken with the 300 x optical zoom so were at the limit of its capabilities.
    I expect your son's girlfriend's camera is a real whizz-bang.

  5. I've really enjoyed this trip with you Katherine. We've noticed several of our migrating birds are still hanging around, long after they usually leave. The Eastern Curlew was a great find. I can't remember what we saw when we were at the shorebird centre(i'll have to check my journal)...but i bought a beautiful book there!

  6. When were you at Miranda Lori? Yes, the shop is wonderful there. I am always tempted by something each time I go.