I was contemplating recently those moments in life when you feel a sense of total peace, perhaps some people would relate it as a spiritual experience. For me, I think those moments are generally involving communing with the natural world – other species who have total freedom of whether they are near you or not, or interact with you or not, especially in a world where humans predate or deliberately trample on so many of those species without a second thought…considering ourselves superior…for food or sport or otherwise.
It is unusual for me to feel those kind of things with people, but occasionally that can happen too. I guess hugs with loved ones or close friends can achieve a similar feeling. Those moments tend to be quiet also, words having no part in it, fuelling that peace.
In New Zealand, it is notable that a number of the native species (the diurnal ones at least!) are quite trusting and will not be quite so fearful of humanity as the UK. Even introduced species somehow seem more “friendly” as a rule…while keeping their distance. Whether this is because of a later arrival of mankind and differing attitudes or the fact that mankind is proactively working to save so many species in NZ, who knows! Perhaps we should just put it down as a superb outcome and enjoy the mystery and inner peace it can bring.
As the southerly winds whipped up their seasonal force and chill; and began to topple the leaves from the tree in the garden in ever greater numbers, requiring me to get out there with a rake once more…I was amazed to find a fully intact birds nest woven from natural and man-made materials such as moss, grass, fishing line (I think) and some sort of white fibres. Such a thing of beauty that it seemed such a shame that it couldn’t now be used again.
I am 99% certain it is the nest of the silvereye (pictured below), one of the smaller garden visitors. Beautiful olive green little bird which makes awesome constructions to boot!
I must confess that I don’t know much about these little guys (maybe about 1cm long) but they are quite fun to watch up close in the garden. This one seemed to start displaying to my camera by tilting its wings from side to side as I zoomed in, and even jumped onto the lens to get better acquainted. Beautiful colours and patterns, and they can jump like they have jets in their little legs!
Here is a photo of a cicada skin I found in the garden recently…incredibly it was still clinging to the fence where it had been discarded by the new adult. Perhaps it is perfectly formed for a larval stage which happens underground…but quite alarming to see up close. Thankfully they provide what, for me at least, is a lovely soundtrack to summer.
Subtitled – Spot the Real Gannet!
Part of the Auckland Zoo conservation work on Rotoroa Island is involving the establishing of a gannet colony. Gannets already live around the coast of New Zealand so you may wonder how on earth do you persuade gannets that you have you desirable real estate for them to settle in?
The answer is with ‘realistically’ painted artificial gannets and by playing gannet noises over a loudspeaker to attract them in to land.
At the time of the photograph below, only one gannet had made home there, and had made friends with the artificial ones. Sad in one way, a possibly joyous start to a new colony in another way. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Can you spot the real gannet?
I wanted to just focus on one volunteer activity that has been incredibly eye-opening for me while helping out on Rotoroa island. That activity is picking up litter which has arrived on the beaches.
Casual visitors to any tourist location are often blissfully unaware of the work that goes on to keeping them looking pristine. That little piece of paradise requires a lot of work to maintain it. I have been amazed for all of the wrong reasons about what sorts of items appear on beaches.
There are those items which, of course, are deliberately left by people (not everyone follows the request to take rubbish home with them), and some which may have accidentally ended up in our seas and then on the island, but I have found the following things on a regular basis:
- Plastic bags
- Plastic clothes pegs
- Plastic bottles and bottle tops
- Fishing line and floats
- Bits of balloons (often including ribbon attached)
I even found a hat once! Sadly, I also found a dead penguin after a big storm.
My message is simple, first consider if you really need to buy and use such objects (surely we are past needing huge volumes of plastic bags now?). If you do need them, consider whether you can use biodegradable versions or re-use those items before you get rid of them. Finally, if you have to throw them away, first check if you can recycle before you dispose of the item in the safest place possible – and thus give the wildlife in our seas a chance to avoid the huge number of contaminants that arrive there every single day.
Humanity is an abomination where preservation of our earth is concerned. If we all take small steps, we can one day hopefully give future generations something to be truly proud of before it is too late.