Archive for the ‘birds’ Category

Birds of a feather

November 3, 2017

Back in London after our holiday in Lanzarote and we have managed to keep ourselves busy with one thing or another. Roy and Ian had a couple of boys days out, which Roy will write up in a blog post……..soon he tells me! Meanwhile Alex and I did what girls do, go to netball and go out for lunch with some of Alex’s girlfriends, both events which I neglected to take a single picture! Oh well, you will have to take my word for it that it was a couple of great days.

However we did all go out together for the day on Sunday to Eagle Heights, a wildlife and bird sanctuary that has flying demonstrations with some of the birds.

We were not sure what to expect but I have to admit we were very surprised as we did not expect to be able to get up so close and personal with the birds.

First up we had a talk and information from the guide about the birds we were about to see and of course some Health & Safety instructions….like put away all food as we were about to have demonstrations from birds of prey, and they like nothing better than a free meal.

First out was an American Bald Eagle.

What we did not expect was to have the bird fly over us repeatedly at very low levels, as in my hair got ruffled a few times as it flew overhead as it’s wings beat down overhead, it took all my resolve not to duck suddenly so as not to distract the bird. It was very impressive with the eagle flying from the handler in front of us to another handler who moved along the back of the crowd so that the bird flew over as many of us as possible. A truly amazing bird, and a lot bigger than I expected.

Next out was an owl

It too swooped overhead flying from one trainer at the front to the one behind us.

All throughout the demonstrations we were told all about the birds and their idiosyncrasies, and tales of interesting and funny incidents that have occurred over the years.

Next came a Caracara which hopped along the ground, running in and out amongst our legs and hopping onto seats. Native to the Falkland Islands it’s a very clever bird that has been known to put its memory and knowledge to good use. We were told that during the Falklands War the birds watched land mines being laid and knew exactly where they were. Over the years that knowledge was handed down through the generations of birds and put it to good use by luring seals to where a land mine lay buried so that once the seal triggered the mine, the birds got an easy takeaway meal!!!

After he was safely put back in his enclosure the Peregrine Falcon was brought out. It put on an impressive display climbing high, almost stalling before turning to swoop down at impressive speeds to try and catch the lure being swung by the handler. Apparently these birds have been clocked at over 230mph (that’s over 300kph) whilst pulling 26G Force. Did you know that fighter pilots pull up to 13G max so these birds are really amazing. And yes, they are the fastest member of the animal Kingdom.

and it was almost impossible to take a picture of the birds in flight as they move so swiftly, in fact the handler challenged those with the big cameras to try and capture a good shot of it diving down and past the lure. So my picture taken with my phone is not too bad as I managed to actually capture an image of it flying by!

After the flying demonstrations we wandered off to see the rest of the birds and as well they had an opportunity for us to hold and pose with either a wee baby owl (which children queued up to hold) or an American Bald Eagle.

Roy and Alex had a go at holding one of the Bald Eagles,

Bald eagle and balding Roy – he had just had a haircut!!!

Alex chatting to the bird.

We spent a bit of time looking around the facility and the numerous other birds that they have including; maribou, rhea and kookaburra, they also have many other different types of eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures and owls, as well as huskies, meerkats and some reptiles.

By the time we had finished admiring all the animals it was getting on for mid afternoon so a late lunch/early dinner was in order at a local country pub.

that’s us enjoying a great pub lunch, washed down with appropriate beverages of course before we headed back home to relax for the evening. A great day out with many thanks to Ian and Alex for organising yet another lovely day.

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Final countdown

September 19, 2017

Eek, one week to go until we head off on our next adventures and there is still so much to organise, I don’t know where the time has gone.

This last weekend we were expecting to have a relatively quiet one with no guests due for the weekend, however, that was soon to change. On Saturday evening we were quietly enjoying dinner with Grant whilst waiting for the rugby to start when I got a cheeky text from my brother John asking what was for dinner tomorrow night as he and his partner Jude were thinking coming to stay! Sure enough they arrived on Sunday afternoon, quickly settled in and then went for a quick tour around the area.

That’s them across the harbour at Pahi….can you see them?

No, we couldn’t really either until we got the binoculars out. Here’s a closer view, you can just make out their grey car parked near the end of the wharf!

It was great to catch up with them and all their news, even though we do keep in contact regularly via a monthly family email, it’s always nice to meet up in person.

We had another visitor this week as well, this cheeky fellow came and sat on the rail just outside the kitchen. We are sure he was eyeing up all the skinks that bask on the warm concrete during the day.

The hens have been keeping us in good supply with eggs and we thought that we had a good lot of ducklings hatched with 12 ducklings swimming on the pond, although at the next count it was only 10. But what do you call a group of ducklings? A clutch? A flock? Well, according to Mr Google, he tells me that ducks in flight are called a flock, ducks on land are a brace or balding (I think I will stick to calling them a brace as balding sounds …..well, just bad!). And ducks on the water are called a raft, a team or a paddling. Who knew?

So here is a picture of a paddling of ducklings.

However, today we discovered that there are actually three distinct groups of ducklings in, on and around the pond ranging in size from very new to a few weeks old with each brace numbering around 10 which means 30 ducklings in total. That’s an awful lot of ducks! I tried to get a picture of them, here are some of them on the bank, can you spot them?

They are hiding on the bank under the shadow of the cabbage tree nearest the pond.

A closer view, there are the two groups here but the tiny newly hatched ones are hiding under a flax bush. They will be a nice surprise for Jacky & Chris on their return. As well, there are a pair of herons nesting in one of the macrocarpa trees, and the tuis, wood pigeons and rosellas have been very active over the last week or two as well, anyone would think that it is spring.

Meanwhile we are busy making lists of things we need to get done before we leave, like making sure all our affairs are in order and up to date, inform those that need to know that we are heading away, getting prescriptions sorted, make lists of what we need from the van to pack, oh and have we got suitcases suitable for the trip?, money is organised, passports, insurance, travel plans are all done, the van is sorted for whilst we are away so hopefully we have thought of most things.

After a bit of a fright the other week when it was pointed out to me that I had misread the date and time of our flight 😳 (Well, it is easy enough to do isn’t it?). I read that our flight departed at 0055 on Wednesday so I just had it in my head that we left Wednesday night just after midnight ……..oops, it actually means Tuesday night check in for an early hour departure on Wednesday morning NOT Wednesday night.

I have checked and rechecked the tickets to make sure we will be at the airport on the right day at the right time, now we just have to hope that the air fuel situation does not impact us to badly. Keep your fingers crossed folks!

Little Spotted Kiwi

April 30, 2017

Last Saturday, the little Spotted Kiwi were returned to Shakespear Park.  These are the first Little Spotted Kiwi to be brought back to the greater Auckland Region, the second group to have a habitat on mainland New Zealand and are the second rarest Kiwi so it was with great ceremony that they were delivered to the Park.  Roy and I were privileged to be invited to view the proceedings and it was good timing as we had returned to Auckland for a few appointments the previous couple of days and were staying at our second “home” with my brother Steve & sister-in-law Leslie before heading back to the van at Uretiti. But back to the main event.

According to Wikipedia the little spotted kiwi or little grey kiwi, Apteryx owenii, is a small species of kiwi that in pre-European times occurred in both main islands of New Zealand. Around 1900, a population was trans-located to Kapiti Island for conservation purposes. Little spotted kiwis are the smallest species of kiwi, at about 0.9 to 1.9 kg (2.0–4.2 lb), about the size of a bantam. After they were released on Kapiti Island, they were also moved to Red Mercury Island, Hen Island, Tiritiri Matangi Island, and Long Island in the Queen Charlotte Sound. In 2000, about 20 little spotted kiwis were released into Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. This was the first time since about 1900 that little spotted kiwis could be found on the mainland of New Zealand. Now they have a second Mainland home ie. Shakespear Regional Park.

 The Kiwi were delivered to the ceremony site by selected personnel with the kiwi transported in specially made boxes which had been lovingly made by SOSSI (Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society Incorporated) volunteers over the previous few months. 

Kiwi being delivered in their special carry boxes

The Kiwi and guests were welcomed by local iwi with a powhiri.

Iwi representative delivering welcome speech. 

Then came the welcoming speeches from various dignitaries inlcuding Auckland mayor Phil Goff


SOSSI chairman Peter Jackson


 NZ Defence Force representative

The Defence Force, namely the Navy, share some of the headland and fence line with the Park and work together with park staff  in enhancing the area.

Unfortunately I missed taking a picture of the very moving and powerful powhiri and karakia given by the Kapiti Island iwi representatives as I was too busy listening.   And why were Kapiti Island Iwi present?  The 10 female birds being introduced were from Kapiti Island just off the Wellington Coast, and the 10 male Kiwi were from Tiritiri Matangi Island which is an island in the Hauraki Gulf just 3kms offshore from Shakespear.  The mixing of the birds ensures there will be genetic diversity in future offspring.

After all of the speeches the birds were returned to their shelter.  We were then told that a few of the birds would be brought out for us to be able to see close up, whilst ensuring they would be carefully handled we were asked to be very quiet so as not to frighten the nocturnal creatures.  We had presumed that the birds would be brought out in the boxes as we knew that perspex lids had also been made for the boxes.  

What a pleasant surprise we had when we saw that the birds were being carefully brought out by handlers, cradling them in their arms like they would a newborn baby.

Each bird had a handler, a volunteer umbrella holder and a Ranger to bring them out to see us.

This bird was brought out by Ginnie.  Ginnie is the organiser for the Junior Ranger programme run at the Park which we are very involved with over the summer months. 


The Kiwi were released into their new habitat later in the afternoon, away from the glare of onlookers.   We look forward to hearing their calls in the night next time we return. 

Wildlife

January 20, 2017

It’s fair to say that being in a Sanctuary means that we are surrounded by lots of wildlife in one form or another.  Currently there are 4 pairs of Dotterels nesting on the beach, they build their nests right on the high tide mark which necessitates the nests having to be sandbagged to protect them from extra high tides and also to be roped off from humans who may decide to have an extra close look.  Dotterel are a threatened/nationally vulnerable species, here at Shakespear there have been 16 chicks hatched, of which 5 have been lost and 6 have fledged.  Some eggs were lost due to high tides, hooligans and other creatures so protection of their space is important.  The other day we had to move one lot of fencing which was protecting their patch as the dotterels had, in their wisdom, moved further along the beach.  

Can you spot the well camouflaged adults?

A close up view

 But first the had to get their chicks across the small creek…who knew that they could swim?


And a blurry close up

After we had set up the fencing, put up the signs, and made sure they were safe, the adult birds with chicks in tow, then proceeded to head back to their previous haunt further along the beach.  Since then they have moved between the two areas daily I guess trying to decide which one is best?

The Kereru, NZ wood pigeon, are feasting on the ripe Karaka  berries on the tree in front of our van, gorging themselves until they are almost too heavy to fly before taking off with the unmistakable sound of their wing beats to gain enough height and momentum to get back to their home.  

They also seem to enjoy the new growth on the kowhai tree growing at the rear of our van but they have not been left in peace to eat the leaves as we have seen Tui chasing and dive bombing the much larger Kereru until the pigeons fly off out of their way.  We have also seen Tui exhibiting similar behaviour toward a magpie, chasing it in a menacing manner, diving and swooping on the magpie until it’s forced from its flight to land, and then continually harassing it until it finally leaves the area.  

In the past two years two species of birds have been reintroduced to the Sanctuary, the Whitehead – which I wrote about its release into the park here, and Robins which were reintroduced last year and you can read a little about them here.  This year in the autumn Kiwi are being reintroduced into the Santuary which is fantastic news for all, but in particular, reward for all the hard work done by the rangers, staff and the numerous volunteers who put in hours of work throughout the year.

It’s not all bird life here though.  This fellow was dragged onto the beach after being found dead in the shallows by some undoubtably surprised swimmer.


It’s a bronze whaler shark, about 2m in length.  It was later recovered by DoC  and taken away for reasearch purposes.  It’s not something I would personally like to find whilst I am swimming!!

It’s a tough life

January 8, 2017

Whilst we have an abundance of sunshine throughout the summer months, it also means we have an abundance of power.  To raise a few dollars for the Shakespear Sanctuary we are “selling off” our excess power to campers so that they can charge their phones and other necessary devices, all for a gold coin donation which will go toward the cost of bringing Kiwi back to the sanctuary in March.  It costs several thousand dollars to bring each bird into the sanctuary so any funds we can raise will help a little.  Last year we did the same and raised several hundred dollars which went to bringing Robins back into the sanctuary.  

 One of the translocated  Robins with his personal identity leg bands.

The Robins have successfully bred this last spring, with many chicks having been successfully raised and fledged.  Let’s hope the same occurs with the Kiwi translocation.

Back to the money raising exercise. Some people seem to be glued to their devices all day,  every day, with some of the younger generation coming two or three times a day to charge up their phones.  And with most people using their phones as their camera to record their holiday pics, we get a good number of customers each day. 

 What usually occurs is that people come, plug in their phones and then they leave,  to return an hour or so later when the phones have charged.  This morning though we had a different sight, a young man came to plug in his phone, sat in Roy’s chair for a moment, next minute he was fast asleep!!


Seems he has a young family and wasn’t getting much sleep, so he caught a few winks in the relative quiet outside our van! 

Perhaps this  could be the start of another fundraising venture?  

R&M

November 17, 2015

Like most homes, there are alway repairs and maintenance to be done in order to keep everything up to scratch, some of which we do ourselves and the rest we leave to those who know what they are doing and who also have the tools and equipment required to get the job done.  The van went in to Kaitaia Tractors last Wednesday to have the bushes replaced on the anti sway bar, as well, they had to fix and reweld into place one of the airbag supports on one side at the rear, then refit the airbag and test it.  The handbrake needed a tighten/adjustment and  as well, we had them spray the underside of the van with anti rust  gunk – that’s the technical name for the stuff – preventive maintenance,  as we spend such a lot of our time near beaches and salt laden air that we thought this was a good idea.  Once all the work was completed, we were advised not to travel on dusty roads for a day or so to allow the gunk to harden properly which meant a stay at the Kaitaia RSA for a night or two.  

After a couple or so days in Kaitaia we were more than ready to head back out to Matai Bay to the relative peace and quiet of the DoC camp,  with a little bit of fishing thrown in the mix as well.  But first more wee chores to be done, you know all those silly little things that are annoying but you never quite get round to attending to them.  The jobs that are designated to Ron, as in later-on!   Things like attach some magnetic catches to the cupboard doors above the drivers and passenger seats.  These doors have never closed tightly, and as I had found some really good magnetic catches in Kaitaia it was time to sort it out.  Roy set about screwing the catches in place, but of course it was never going to be that simple. For a start the doors lift up to open and of course do not open straight out,  they angle down slightly which meant in order to access the inside of the doors you have to twist yourself into awkward contortionist-like positions to use the drill ….then just as he was starting the job, the drill bit broke,  cue colourful language! After much muttering, dropping of tools, bits and screws, more colourful language, the doors now close tightly so no more bits flying out of cupboards on bumpy roads!  Another quick fix was to tidy up all the plugs and cords by attaching a multiplug to the wall out of the way.  

Next we had a blown bulb in one of the brake lights which meant removal of  the brake and reversing light cover, again not a simple job as one screw remained stubbornly in place and needed a special bit to drill it out.  Again, a bit of muttering ensued before replacing the offending bulb, test and reattach the covers.  Then there was the task of reattaching the small handle on the door opening for the fly screen door.  But first a clean up and removal of old glue before replacing the handle and hope it stays in place.

On our recent CoF of the van, it was pointed out to us that the running lights at the rear side of the van were the wrong colour…..the rest of the lights covers down the side of the van are amber coloured, but the ones at the very back were red.  In nearly 5 years and 10 vehicle checks since we have had the van this had never been mentioned before, apparently no red lights should be visible from the front of the vehicle.  Where were we to source such things? after checking a few auto supply shops we resorted to doing a quick internet search which resulted in two new lens covers ordered and delivered within a week, these were easily replaced.  

Roy got up on the roof of the van to check and clean the solar panels.  There have been a large number of birds leaving their calling cards on the windows and sides of the van so we thought they may have also been on the roof, but no, their aim is obviously for vertical  surfaces rather than the horizontal.  All we need to do now is give the van a good clean which we managed to do this morning in between rain showers utilising the rain to wash off the last of the dirt and dust.  A polish will be next on the agenda but that can wait until we get to Shakespear.  

Numerous other ’round-to-it’ jobs have been done, and even some fishing has been fitted in to the busy schedule.  The last piece of R&M to be done is on Roy – he broke a tooth so off to the dentist this week!

Melbourne–Wildlife

October 6, 2015

I know, I know, still catching up on Melbourne blogs before we get back to some semblance of a “normal” routine. 

So just a quick update of some of the wildlife encountered on our recent trip.  First there was the Koalas nonchalantly sitting up a tree…and no, they weren’t   K..I..S..S..I..N..G as the old school ground taunt goes.  These Koalas were in some trees in a layby just off the road on our way to they Great Ocean Road, most of them were sleeping but I did manage to capture this one having a scratch.

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Our next encounter was with birds, of all shapes sizes and colours

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These colourful natives were all found in laybys on the side of the main road and fed out of our hand with the food that our guide supplied.

On our walk into the Otway forest, we came across another native, this time a snail, completely black and also carnivorous19This is a picture off the information board, however we did find one along our walk but I forgot to photograph it.

Time to catch up!l

July 21, 2015

Yes, I have been having issues in posting a blog but I am assured that it is an issue with the App, and not an issue with me!!!

first of all a few pics that should have been included in previous posts…..

Damaged kiteThis is what a wrecked kite looks like!!!

imageDouble trouble parked at Anzac Bay

imageAnd here we are, fishing from the door at Rays Rest near Kaiaua

Ardmore was our next stop for a few nights whilst we got shopping done, caught up with chores and generally got ourselves sorted. Mind you the first couple of days were utter disasters as everything we attempted to buy or find was proving to be very elusive which meant we spent an awful lot of time running around the city but not achieving much. But then after a couple of days things started to click into place and we got ourselves sorted. We (Roy & I and Pat & Sue) also spent a bit of time at Antony’s, not only utilising his washing machine but also cooking and sharing dinner at his place. We were made very welcome and very cosy nicely tucked up in his house with the fire going keeping us all very warm as Auckland put on a show of chilly weather and good frosts – thanks Ants.

After we got all our tasks completed, we could not wait to get on the road and off over the bridge. I seem to hold my breath as soon as we hit the motorway until we are well on the north side of the harbour bridge then I start to relax the further north we get. We headed back to Shakepear Camp Ground, we arrived to find  our friends Brian & Marj already here and it was lovely to see them again. After catching up with all their news, we settled in for the evening.

Saturday morning we were due over at Army Bay to join the Shakespear volunteers, Rangers, and officials to enter the Navy Base in convoy as this was the day they were set to release Popokatea or Whitehead back into the Park.   You can read about it more Here

We were very privileged to be invited to watch the release of the birds.  The birds had been brought over from Tiritiri Matangi Island that morning and after an official welcome the 40 birds were released into the bush, they made a vociferous entrance into the park.

After the ceremony we had been invited to Steve & Leslie’s for dinner and to stay the night so we were off to Torbay for the evening, and a very pleasant evening was spent. They had their grandson, our great nephew, Ben staying the night and so after dinner we played Snakes and Ladders (been a few years since we’ve played that!!!) then a new game for us which consists of wooden numbers 1 to 9, and a pair of die. The object of the game is to throw the die, and whatever number you throw, you flip over numbers of any sequence that add up to the same total of the dice eg. The dice throw is a 5 and 4, which add up to 9 so you then choose to flip over just the 9 counter, or 8+1, or 7+2, etc etc with the object of the game is to flip over all the counters. So if toward the end you just have a couple of numbers left, then depending on the dice throw if you cannot move then you add up the total of the counters left unflipped and that is your score, then your opponent has their turn, continuing on until the first to reach an agreed total and the lowest total score is declared the winner.   A great game especially for kids to learn good number skills.imageimage

Sunday morning and Roy and I had a few errands to run, then we were meeting Steve & Leslie at the Riverhead Tavern for lunch along with their three daughter and grandchildren attending, oh and Ants and us as well.

imageSome of the family

We had a lovely long lunch before we all set off for our respective homes, it was great to catch up with everyone, and the meal was very good too.

It’s definitely not as cold here at Shakespear as it is over the other side of the city but it has been wet and windy.  In between wet days we have managed to get a few more chores done, like making a new trace board for the kite fishing and other bits and pieces ticked off the never ending list.  One day we headed back across the city to Antony’s to help him stack away a load of firewood as well as take the opportunity to pick up our mail.  Have I mentioned the mail issue previously? Well, living on the road does come with a  few issues, like where do we get mail sent?……we have tried to get most things transferred over to email, but some things have to have an address so rather than using friends and family’s addresses we now have a PO Box in Manukau which is not far from where Antony works so he can check it occasionally for us when we are not around.  But let’s not get into the issue of requiring a physical address (and not a Post Office Box number) by some – the electoral roll is one – as that is a whole other blog post all of its own!!

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we are off again heading northwards. We shall keep you posted.

Shakespear

November 15, 2014

Another week has slipped by in our role as Camp Hosts or Camp Narks as Antony so eloquently called us! And before you ask – no, we have not ‘narked’ on anyone –yet!

A walk to the top of the hill overlooking the camp and beach is where the following sets of photos were taken from.

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Looking down onto the camp with us parked there in the middle toward the back, and the photo on the right is zoomed in on the track up over the other hill.

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Zoomed in on us parked up….and closer zoom.  Yes, we know the awning is not level, that is done purposely to facilitate water runoff.

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Looking forward of our van to the beach

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A Panoramic view of the Te Haruhi Bay the campground is at the left end of bay below the ridge.

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Looking out to Tiritiri Matangi island from the top of the hill behind the camp, and a view of Pink Bay. No sand but a papa rock shelf from which people fish.  This same shelf stretches from the bay in front of the camp around to Army Bay and can be walked all the way at low tide.

We have watched a number of people wandering past our van to walk up over the hill with sacks thrown over their shoulders, returning some hours later with sacks bulging with their contents.  One day we got chatting to one chap who showed us his catch of Kina and who offered us a couple to try.  Kina is the Maori name for sea urchin or sea egg,  which is endemic to New Zealand waters.  They are a prized delicacy  to Maori, with the roe the edible part of the urchin.  They are spiny wee things, but not to pass up an opportunity, we broke them open and scooped out the delicate roe.

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Kina                                                 Breaking them open

12Delicious!

We enjoyed the delicate but creamy contents and can understand why they are such a prized delicacy.

Once the spikey spines have been removed and the shell dried off what remains is this beautiful pale green shell.

Earlier in the week, friends Bill & Estelle came to stay for a couple of nights in their newly acquired campervan.  This was to test out all the workings of their new van, and to make sure everything worked as it should.  Of course not everything went to plan for them, but at least we could assist where we could and of course we could laugh along with them…..but lets just say what goes on camp, stays in camp!!

13Here we are spending an evening playing Sequence – we let the visitors win the odd game!

14An action shot of Estelle, caught through the window of their campervan, attempting to make up their bed!

We did venture out one day by visiting Gulf Harbour which is a development not far from here, which includes housing, golf courses and a large marina.  It was interesting to see how the other half live, not our cup of tea though.

 

Map of the area

However, there is a ferry that runs from here through to Auckland city and another ferry that goes out to Tiritiri Matangi Island which we shall take at a later date when the weather decides to settle.

Unfortunately, the weather was not particularly kind to us whilst Bill & Estelle were visiting.  One morning whilst filling up the van with fresh water, Roy got caught in a hail storm and took to shelter under a tree whilst trying to protect himself from the hail with the umbrella.

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Now you did not think that we would have a blog entry without the obligatory pictures of flora and fauna, did you?

The park which surrounds the camping ground is an Open Sanctuary.  It has a predator proof fence isolating the tip of the peninsular from the rest of it.  This area has been cleared of all introduced predators except for a few remaining mice.  This has resulted in a proliferation of native birds assisted by those that fly over from the Sanctuary on Tiritiri Matangi Island which is another Sanctuary where a number of rare species have been re-introduced.

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A prime example of a Tui.  These are very prolific in the bushes surrounding the camp.  Their only downside is that they start their day at between 3am and 4am which is little early for a dawn chorus.

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These two Native Pigeons or Kereru arrive late most afternoons and perch at the top of the dying branches of a Cabbage or Ti tree.

A fungi growing at the base of a cabbage tree in the bush above the camp

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I am watching this small branch on a Pohutukawa tree beside our home and hope to see it flower before we leave.

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Some are already starting to bloom but they are few and far between at present.

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Goodbyes and new job!

November 5, 2014

We shall get to the new job shortly but first we had to say our goodbyes to Alex & Ian. We left Kinloch in convoy early Sunday morning, our first stop was a little back track to Wairakei to fill up with fuel before meeting up with Alex & Ian and Ants in Tirau for a bit of brunch. Refuelled, we were back on the road heading straight to the airport where our first mission was to head to the supermarket to fill up the corners of the travellers suitcases with a good selection of NZ chocolates, biscuits and the like.

Unfortunately it was soon time to head to check in, early enough so that Ian could ensure that he gets allocated seats with plenty of leg room to cope with his 6ft 3in frame……something that some of us that are vertically challenged do not have to deal with! That mission accomplished, we had time for a quiet drink before we all steeled ourselves for the farewells. This never gets any easier, but at least this time Alex has Ian to console her on the other side of the barrier.

Monday morning and Roy had to battle the motorway to head back to the Doctor to have his stitches removed and get the results of the biopsy. It turns out that the growth was cancerous, however the margins were all clear and the type that it was meant that it is confined to the upper skin levels. And as it was noted and acted upon fairly quickly then it was caught very early and requires no further treatment.

That done, it was back to the van, pack up, empty waste tanks, fill up with water, LPG and fuel before heading across the bridge to Shakespear Regional Park on the Whangaparaoa Peninsular. This is where we get to our new “job”. We shall be here for at least the next month acting as Camp Hosts, which just really means we are the eyes and ears for the Rangers to let them know if there are any issues occurring before they become a problem and also let campers know about the facilities at Shakespear.

Shakespear is one of the network of Auckland Regional Parks, we have mentioned the Park network before as we have enjoyed staying in a number of them around the region. They truly are a wonderful asset, not only to Auckland but to New Zealand. Shakespear is situated on the tip of the Whangaparaoa peninsular north of Auckland, it has a number of walkways through bush, farm and coastline as well as a nice beach and supposedly there is some good fishing around as well. We stayed here last year when Alex was in NZ with her friends.

The bird life here is amazing and the noise they make is almost deafening at times. So far we have managed to see tuis, bellbirds, wood pigeons, rosellas and parakeets as well as the usual sparrows, starlings, pukekos, ducks, and magpies. The camping area is a large flat grassy area just back from the beach with large Pohutakawas lining the site. The camp provides toilets, sinks for dishwashing, rubbish and recycling, and here there is a worm farm as well. Shakespear is a predator free area, which means when you come into the park, you enter through large automatically controlled predator proof gates. There are definitely no dogs, cats to any other animals allowed to be brought in, and they even provide mousetraps for campers to place around their campsite.

Here we shall be staying for the next wee while, we look forward to exploring the area a little more and to catch up with friends and family. Let us know when you are coming, the BBQ will be fired up and ready.