“A box of birds” means happiness.
One morning two weeks ago my sister-in-law Clare, Matthew and I sit outside at Blueskin Nurseries Café in Waitati. Clare suggests taking us to Orokonui Ecosanctuary just up the hill as we all love birds. The sparrows watching us think this is a good idea.
Orokonui Ecosanctuary is an ecological island wildlife reserve developed by the Otago Natural History Trust in the Orokonui Valley, 20 km north of Dunedin. The 307 ha nature reserve was surrounded by a predator fence in 2007. The forest is being restored to its former glory by keeping pests out, revegetating and bringing back species that were locally extinct.
The first birds we see are takahe. These flightless birds were for a long time thought to be extinct. What a joy to see a species of bird for the first time ever. Here is the chick!
The following three photos show one of the parents feeding this chick. Look how they use their legs, scooping up grass.
New Zealand forests are too often eerily quiet as populations of songbirds have been decimated by introduced predators over the decades. But the forest at Orokonui is an absolute symphony of song. No words of mine can describe what it is like to hear this orchestra of birdsong. Here are some of the musicians. First – the tui whose loud song is interspersed with clicks and rattles…
The melodious bellbird or korimako…who is belting out a tune while I photograph.
I have written a post about a New Zealand parrot called the kea, but here is a parrot I had never seen before called the kaka. These gregarious birds are extremely entertaining to watch as they get up to their various antics. I want to capture the red under-carriage during flight but they are too fast for me.
The brave little robin likes to come very close to us because she is after the insects we disturb as we walk along.
A bird who evades my camera most of the time because he is so quick is the fantail. This bird flits and teases as he pursues flying insects. Only when he ever-so-briefly perches do I have any hope of a photo.
How I love the tomtit – a tiny bird with enormous presence.
Even when we can’t see any birds at any particular moment, we can always listen to their music.
…and enjoy the scenery…
When our excursion is over we descend back down the hill to Waitati.
A pony walks over to be patted.
A spoonbill flies across Blueskin Bay.
The day is a box of birds.