It seems to happen every time there is the merest mention of the word ‘bird’. My “one day” for a close-up of a hawk is up to about one day said nineteen times. We go days without seeing a magpie, quite fancy jackets in these parts, even seagulls are thin on the ground. This morning was no different. As we pulled into Waiwera for a look at the migrators the heavens opened and our view went in seconds. Over the river and off to the next stop. Not a bird, not a sparrow to be seen anywhere, officially ‘Birdless of Mabel’. Oh, and we were very previous when we declared electric blanket and no extra clothing, the second we left Coromandel it has been very cold and wet. Last night = blankets back on.
Things looked up, as we pulled off the main road there was a new dad guarding his chick from the long grass as said chick was strolling about in the brief spell of sunshine. As we got close mum called the little one, dad stayed put. Pūkeko or swamphen, have become a frequent friend to us but this was our first chick. Known to Bear as long legs, they used to be hunted, now protected. The colour red was associated with nobility and power by Māori, so the pūkeko was held in high esteem because of its red beak and legs.
Māori metaphor: Pūkeko are known for their bold scheming and determination. In times past, – they raided gardens for kūmara (sweet potato) and taro. A stubborn, annoying person was compared metaphorically to the bird, and was said to have taringa Pākura - pūkeko ears . They are known to steal eggs from each other and this is an indication of their character.
Māori mythology: In New Zealand, the pūkeko is mentioned in the Māori myth 'How the Kiwi lost her wings' in which several birds of the forest are asked to come down from the trees to eat the bugs on the ground and save the forest, but all give excuses except the Kiwi who is willing to give up his colours and the ability to fly. The pūkeko's excuse is that it looks too damp down there, and he does not want to get his feet wet. The pūkeko is punished for his reluctance and told he must now live forever in the swamps.
By one account, the pūkeko is the spawn of Punga (the ancestor of sharks and reptiles - enemies of the people) but was claimed by relative (and high chief) Tawhaki. Tawhaki cut himself while cutting timber and so daubed the pūkeko's forehead with his own blood to signify their bond. So the mischievous pūkeko gets his character from Punga and his noble badge from Tawhaki.
Wenderholm Regional Park is the first regional park of the Auckland Region. Situated between the estuaries of the Puhoi River and the Waiwera River. To see the migrators you are supposed to be in place two hours each side of high tide, we arrived at one hour after the low, low tide. There we are then, well as consolation a fantail gave us a few seconds of breakdancing, off it went and so did we as the rain fell heavily once more.
As we drove toward the Kauri Museum our bird watching ventures of the day were broadly summed up by this view.
As we pulled up at the museum we sat and watched the cloud speed in. Lunch on Mabel then, these were the biggest raindrops ever.
Outside was this beast, said to have many a digit and worse to its name, the log hauler.
A must stop on Monday is at the Waipoua Forest to see ‘Father of the Forest’ – the biggest kauri tree growing in New Zealand.
The Kauri Museum, wowed and amazed in this massive building on two storeys, the dioramas were fantastic, the machinery, history, photographs, furniture and displays top drawer. So pleased we came despite declaring to each other to be ‘well and truly museumed out’.
A full three sixty round the War Memorial and down the road by the Beez coloured sign.
Our view was very wet and grey.
One minute we were on the main road, the next the Wicked Witch had us on a gravel track which fortunately joined back on to the main road. Her clock went wrong too, Bear pulled in a big breath to begin his usual tirade at her, but I called for calm as she must be getting very tired now. No point in another episode with her now that we only have a four days left on our road trip.
Going along the main road, albeit a bit bumpy to get back on to the highway, we crossed a bridge when I saw my best chance. A big male hawk sitting on roadkill. Bear stopped as soon as he could after clearing the bridge and had a wonderful view, mine was just a hint through the bushes. He looked up, saw Mabel and fled, food pile too heavy so he left it behind. I saw my opportunity. Not to be beaten, I asked Bear to park, I got out, paused to take in the steep gravelly bank, minced down, found ‘possum that had once looked more attractive’, carried it – well pinched its tail between index finger and thumb, strategically placing it north of Mabel. Then we sat surveying the fields.
Now bear in mind this is a repeat of my last roadkill experience, this normally silent road becomes the M5 within seconds of our sitting. Best we got was a very high fly past. Oooo the language, ooo the shame of it, oo the frustration. Twenty minutes and it just wasn’t going to happen. On we went. Pulled into Whangarei late on, blankets on, the compensation for my days lack of things feathered was a win at backgammon and sequence, still behind for the year, but hopefully the tide has turned. Huh. Settled to watch Seven Psychopaths, I could say something here but feel silence is probably golden. Steady.
ALL IN ALL SO NEAR, SO FAR, MR HAWK
GETTING NEARER TO BEING BACK IN THE BOATING WORLD