February 9, 2015 … it’s an ill wind

Our climate sometimes moves past very quickly.

Shag

A Little Shag in a clearing in the flax.

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.

Battle

The shag is typically 56 cm tall compared with the 38 cm of the coot, but it was clearly intimidated by the brash Australian

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.

Coots

Family group of Australian Coots

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.

Pukeko

The Pukeko uses its equipment to chop off bits of reed stalk.

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.

 

Advertisements

About wysiwygpurple

I am a family man, a passionate amateur photographer and a retired academic . What's the purpose of this blog? Well in the first instance it provides me with a platform from which to resume writing, an activity I greatly enjoy. What will the blog be about? Anything that takes my fancy but it is likely to arise from things I see and experience, in my family, in my travels, or anything else I feel like. Each daily post will contain one or more images made the previous day. Sometimes the image will illustrate the points made in the prose, and sometimes the prose will attempt to interpret the image. What kind of images will they be? Always safe for work and family. Usually they will be representational, and sometimes they will be impressionistic or experimental.
This entry was posted in Birds, Waikanae, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s