Friday, September 17, 2010

FSO - Flora, Fauna ande pets

Choosing which of our flora and fauna to concentrate on, has been the hardest part of this week's topic.  I've decided to stick with our native specimens. 

The Pukeko, or New Zealand Swamp Hen, is one of the few New Zealand native birds to have flourished since the arrival of man.  They love swampy areas.  We rarely see them here on the farm but there are dozens of them down along the road a bit.  They are quite beautiful with their bright blue plumage and red beaks, and fluffly white tail feathers which they flash when alarmed.They have an endearing goofiness about them with their long skinny legs and long toes on their feet.

My son has two huge trees around his house where the native wood pigeon (kereru) often visit around sunset in summer.  They thrive in lowland forest and we are lucky enough to live near their habitat.   Its head, throat, upper breast and back are a metallic green flecked with gold and with a purple sheen, its belly white and its eye, beak and feet are crimson. It is truly a gorgeous bird. It is an unusually silent bird so it is hard to detect their presence unless you have heard the soft whooshing of their wings as they come in to perch.

The tui, on the other hand, just love to sing... a lot.  They sing a variety of beautiful melodies.  You usually hear them before you see them.  They live throughout New Zealand, just about anywhere, in forests and towns and on off-shore islands. This is my daughter's friend, Tony, who sits outside her office window and signs to her.

The tuis distinctive white tuft under their throat, contrasts dramatically with the metallic blue-green sheen of their underlying black colour.

Not at all melodious but very noisy is the kaka, one of three ancient parrots of NZ.  To be honest, until a few years ago I knew nothing about them.  One morning, when my twin grand-daughters were in their first year at school, I was waiting with them at the gate for the school bus and we heard a rowdy sqwarking coming from the giant magnolia tree under which we were standing.  We looked up to see a large mostly green bird with a lighter coloured head and large beak chattering down at us.  And was he chattering, loudly and raucously, with his head moving enquiringly from side to side.  A character of a bird.  As soon as the girls got on the bus he flew away, did a few laps around the house, calling loudly before disappearing and I glimpsed a flash of brilliant orangey/red under his wings.  I had no idea what he was, thought he was a kea but I knew they were South Island birds.  Totally intrigued I rang the Department of Conservation who were most interested in our visitor and identified it as a young kaka male.  They breed on the off shore islands and each season a few young (the equivalent of our teenager) males go off exploring.  One had been reported about 10 km south of us the week before and they guessed this was him and asked could I let them know when he moved on.

For a couple of weeks the girls and I had the pleasure of his company.  Every morning he would be waiting for us in that same tree and start his racket as soon as he heard us coming.  They nearly missed the bus a couple of times - we were so engrossed we didn't hear it coming.  There is no doubt he was interacting with the girls.  I've read that they socialise in the early morning and late evening and I guess we were his morning friends.  As soon as the girls got on the bus he would do his few laps of the house ,screeching, then go elsewhere for the day. 

Then he was gone, as quickly as he'd  appeared.  Looking for new adventures, new friends perhaps?

This is the only photo I managed to get of him and the colours were all wrong.  At least not the colours that were visible to my naked eye.  So I got a friend to play with in PhotoShop (which I don't have).

The pohutakawa's flowers are not yet out.  By Christmas we will see them everywhere, particularly along the coast.  They are wonderful shade trees with a bright crimson flower and seem to be able to grow anywhere near the sea, out of cliff faces, on rocks.  Because of their red flowers and Christmas season flowering they are called the NZ Christmas Tree.   Now, why oh why, don't I have a decent photo of the tree.  I know I have in my archives but can't find them.  Time to tidy up the files, methinks!  But here's a flower:

Tree ferns are the opposite and most are found in damp shady spots beneath tree canopies, up the sides of gullies in NZ native bush. 

And now my best friend, my dear old Lewey.  His colour has faded, lots of grey creeping into his coat and his eyelashes are quite white but still, on a good day, in good light ....

and I couldn't have a photo of Lewey without his best mate and constant companion, Sammy, my grand-daughter's little dog.  I love his gentle face.

So, that's it for this week from the north of New Zealand.  To see some wonderful photography, check out the rest of the FSO team here.


  1. Oh my gosh! I love them all! Since leaving AZ, I've missed all the birds that would come to my feeders. Yours are spectacular. I have a real soft spot for anything goofy. I understand them somehow. LOL!
    That last photo is amazing!

  2. Those birds are so interesting - so exotic to these Canadian eyes! Your dogs, on the other hand, look like many an old friend of mine.

  3. Interesting birds! and I love the last shot of the dog, awesome.

  4. Quite a story about the kaka. You have such a unique island environment in NZ. Sitting on my book shelf is a fabulous field guide to NZ's birds, my daughter's book, dating to the time a few years ago when she spent a few months on an island off of South Island, doing a bird population study. I am amazed by your birds!

  5. Ann says," I like a camera like Pauline's and a photography lesson from her."

    Great Job, I once was at my friends' play and tried to photograph a wood pigeon. You know it didn't turn out because I didn't post it.

  6. What a delightful post.

    I like that the Tui signs (sic) to Tony: such clever birds! Seriously though I hear Tui a lot and even have a Bellbird in a tree next to The Cottage but I rarely see either of them and have never been able to identify the Bellbird positively. If that sounds odd to anyone the reason I know he's there is the very distinctive song.

  7. Wow Great shots! all of them, I love the birds and thanks for the info on them. Your dogs are beautiful!

  8. How wonderful to have such beautiful birds right at home. I've seen these at the zoo, but it must be special to have them as part of your life.

  9. The Kaka worked out well and I love the tree fern. With not having any in the UK they always remind me of ancient forests and dinosaurs.

  10. super nice pictures. great shot. the dog's portrait is awesome.

  11. As always, a wonderful post with beautiful photography and descriptions. The birds are stunning and the dogs are awesome. Enjoyed it all so much.

  12. Oh these are wonderful hon!!! Wow..what wonderfully different flora and fauna you have there!! I love that! I think my favorite was the picture of Sam though...Wonderful shootout!!

  13. Lucky you to have such beauty around you. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  14. What adorable little pups...I love the swamp hen, too. What a goofy looking animal :)

  15. I so love to take birds shots. Your photos are awesome! Thanks for sharing!
    Flora and Fauna

  16. Hello Pauline,

    Lucky to have the bird visit and talk to you while waiting for the bus.
    Have a great weekend.

  17. your birds of NZ are amazing! and the puppies are precious also. nice shoot out Pauline.

  18. Such exotic birds and flowers! Love the last photo of the dog's face - so gentle. I too have lived near the sea all my life an now live int he mts. I love the forests and views but do miss the sea!


I love to know who's visiting. Leave me a sign!