Our climate sometimes moves past very quickly.
A former colleague told of his first day in Wellington and as he watched the clouds scud by, he remarked to his wife that it was like watching replays of the weather channel on fast-forward. It has been like that for several days now, an ugly vicious Nor-Wester. Mary and I chose to go to the Waikanae Estuary (on the Paraparaumu side) to see what life was to be found in the wetlands. Wise woman that she is, she set out on a brisk aerobic walk, knowing that my photocentric meandering would drive her mad. The pool that I explored first was surrounded by high flax, and it was very hard to find a clear view through to the water as the leaves thrashed in the wind. My first sighting was of a Little Shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) in a small clearing in the flax. As its name suggests, it is the smallest of the shags, but is still a big bird. It eyed me with distrust.The smear of green across the picture is that wind-driven flax.
It shouldn’t have taken its eyes off the water because next moment, an Australian Coot was confronting it. The coot (Fulica atra) is a much smaller bird than the Little Shag but what it lacks in size it makes up in attitude. There was a brief hissing match and then the shag lost its nerve and with a splash and a few frayed feathers it broke out of the clearing, leaving the coot in triumphant possession.
It seems there was a reason for the territoriality on the part of the coots, because when peace was restored, its mate emerged with two chicks. Coot chicks make me laugh. They are the bird equivalent of the camel, they were obviously designed by a committee.
Across the road in a different pond, there were a pair of pukeko (Porphyrio porphyrio). It intrigues me how fit for purpose these birds are. Their gigantic feet are good for getting through mud, and that bill is more effective than an electrician’s side-cutters in biting though those tough reed stalks.
No birds tomorrow.