In our effort to get out and see new places in our own backyard, the Pigalinas headed to Silverstream for a walk.
We selected a walk – we were to follow the little red symbols on the signposts and set off. The sign warned that the walk was “hard”. We went up hills, down hills – once with the aid of a rope and across two streams (carrying the dog thanks to the presence of toxic algae) and at one point Mr Pigalina feared we would be camping for the night under a blanket of leaves due to the lack of little red symbols and signposts.
We saw the most fantails we have ever seen in one place. I just about lost it at their cuteness and was over the moon to spot an all black one.
There are a number of other trails we intend to explore, but next time we will take a photo of the map!


Seagull Discrimination

It turns out it matters what colour you are if you are a seagull in New Zealand, and I’m talking beak colour.

There are three types of seagull in New Zealand – as far as I have determined – yellow beak big ones, red beak and black beak.  I am not sure which colour makes you the most important but *spolier* it’s not red.

Today on my way to work a seagull was sitting on the grass next to the footpath.  It didn’t make any attempt to move when people walked past so I knew something wasn’t right.  I went to touch the bird and it did move, and then I noticed that both of its legs were out behind it and it was “sitting” on its belly.  There was no way it could fly away as it could not push off the ground with its legs.

I called the Department of Conservation (DOC) hotline for injured wildlife.

“Do you help seagulls?”

“What kind is it?” they asked

“One of the ones with the red beak and red legs.”

“No, try the SPCA”.

I then had to find the number and call the SPCA “No we don’t, try DOC.”

“I just called them, they said to call you.”

“Tell them that you are in Dunedin, the Dunedin branch helps those kind.”

I called DOC back again and the lady didn’t sound very interested, I explained how the SPCA had said that the Dunedin branch helps them so therefore I had called back.  She asked if I could take the bird to the office – no, not without wrangling into my cardigan and carrying across busy roads and a few blocks.  She logged a job with them and said that they would call me back and instructed me to call the Dunedin office myself also.  I did.  They were shut.

Just as I was hanging up a young man appeared.  He asked if the bird was hurt and, as if to demonstrate that yes it was, it scooched awkwardly across onto the footpath.  I told him the saga and he said that his mum had helped lots of injured seagulls out so he would take it home.  He threw his jumper over the bird and said he would head home to feed it up on cat food.  After declining a ride he was gone, bird in arms.

DOC did not call me back until almost 40 minutes later when I was at my desk.  I would have been late for work, and would have stood on the side of the road for close to an hour.  When I told them that the bird had been taken by the kind boy the woman said “It probably won’t heal.”  “He will make it comfortable anyway.” I replied.  I know your game DOC, you would take my injured bird and kill it without letting it rest on a nice bed scoffing cat food before it goes!  At least it got taken in by a family that cares, even if its days are numbered, not left on the side of the road for hours by the organisations supposed to help creatures.


Mine! Mine!

Sitting at Lake Wanaka enjoying a delicious lunch I made the mistake of feeding a tiny bit of bread to a cute, tiny, bird. Immediately the seagulls gathered. Then one dive bombed my burger from behind me.
I had to eat around the area it had grabbed at. Too good to waste.

Orokonui Ecosanctuary

(Part of the Pigalina does new things series)

Mr Pigalina’s Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and our niece went to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and gave mixed reports. “It was beautiful” (the elder’s view), “It was boring you couldn’t even see anything” (teenager’s view). It turns out they never left the visitor’s centre/cafe so no wonder they didn’t see anything! Had they left and gone for a walk around the massive sanctuary they would have seen some fantastic native birds up close. As you enter through the security gate you must check your bags for stowaway mice, once inside the predator proof fence there are a number of trails you can walk. There is a new tuatara house near the entrance and we were lucky enough to spot this tiny fellow, one of two.
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In the bank at the side of the path to the tuatara house were lots of little holes which were made by Kiwi foraging for worms. We learnt this fact while eavesdropping on a guided tour (“They’re trying to learn for free”). Scattered around the trails are feeding stations which were very popular with the Bellbirds and Tuis while we were there.

Bellbird Tui

They have little “hoppers” at each feeding station for the heavier Kaka to jump on to open. There were also a number of tiny Fantails (or Piwakawaka), my favourites, flitting about.
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The sanctuary is a lovely, affordable, day out and I intend to go back and go on the longest walk, past New Zealand’s tallest tree. The visitor’s centre is made from recycled shipping containers and uses rainwater to flush the toilets, in the spirit of “eco”. There is also a giftshop fully of lovely things and a cafe where you can sit and relax while taking in the view. You may not see any birds from there though, as Mr Pigalina’s family can attest.
(Here is a bonus video of the Bellbirds an Tuis).

(Native bird spotting tip! – If you are in Dunedin and want to see some Pukeko, head to the Green Island landfill, they’re everywhere!)

365 day photo challenge November 6

The starlings are back again this year with two nests over the lounge and one over our bedroom. I hope I don’t have to relive the trauma of hearing one trapped in the wall like last year. Here is a snap of one off in search of food – they are so skittish I can’t get a good shot.

365 day photo challenge February 29

Leap Day!
This is Big Bird, he fell out of a tree with no nest in sight. My friend at work has been caring for him around the clock – he comes to work in a small tissue lined box. He is possibly a Sparrow and is currently being raised on a diet of warmed mince.