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.
Back in January 2016 I posted the first part about my visits and voluntary involvement on Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland (link here if you’d like to re-read). During the most recent summer, I had the pleasure and indeed privilege of returning to Rotoroa on a regular basis to help out the Trust in the day-to-day running of the island.
Volunteer jobs are never going to be glamorous of course, but helping tourists have a more special visit to this little slice of paradise, as well as doing my bit in assisting in the conservation of native species is an absolute joy. I realised that from when I set foot on the boat in the morning until returning to land in the evening, nothing else matters in the world except being part of this wonderful conservation island with a unique human history.
Apologies for the slightly lesser quality of one or two of these pictures, which were taken on an iPhone.
I have made several posts before about some of the wildlife I encounter in the garden here in Auckland. Today, I thought I would share a couple of pictures of a Weta that is living inside the frame of the washing line at present. They are a bit like a large cricket and are endemic to New Zealand. The Giant Weta, which is very rare, is one of the world’s heaviest insects. They are quite harmless to us although the Tree Weta’s jaws are apparently capable of drawing blood if you provoke them…as with any wildlife, respect it and look after it is the best motto.
Beautiful in their own way. This little guy was about 4-5cm long in the body I guess, to give an idea of scale.