This week we again feature words and a picture from Louise Thomas, who recently ventured to Whanganui.
"The Chief Porter and I have been hunting the Nankeen Night Heron for some time. Randomly calling into Ūpokongaro to the spot “Behind the Door on 4” where others before us have clocked the birds, but, for us, with no success. On Monday we were crest fallen to find the café shut, but thought we would head a little way up Makirikiri Valley Road and drop down into the gulley and scout along the stream that runs into the Whanganui River at Ūpokongaro.
The recent rain had made the stream brown and swollen, water was lapping up onto the shelf with the slight track covered in wandering willy (tradescentia). It was wet, slippery, and muddy and our pants were wet up to the knees just walking through the undergrowth. We were buzzed by fantails and wax-eyes, but saw nothing of the night herons behind the area where the café is.
We pushed a little further upstream, straddling rotten logs which crumbled under our feet and slipping in the thick wet weed. I was about to call time of death on the operation, when the Chief Porter spotted a creamy patch against the dark tangled trees overhanging the stream. It was like magic, three night herons materialised from the gloom, their bodies glowing like warm rich butterscotch.
All three had slicked back black hair, but one roosting in the tree, hunched over like an old man, also had two long thin white feathers waving down his back like crazy antennae. One was actively hunting in the stream, pulling at aquatic plants in the hope they might be tasty, the other perched above and moved along the branches quoorking encouragement about the activities below. Nankeen night heron (Nycticorax caledonicus)."
We are still not open for face to face queries. Calling 04 568 8877 will still get you through. We are 'working from home'. 9.30am until 2.00pm
Something a bit different this week. Louise Thomas features regularly on Neighbourly but it appears she is not the only bird lover in the family.
"This beautiful drawing was a present from my lovely daughter, Caitlin, for my birthday. It's a portrait of a chap who frequents a large tree at the back of our neighbour's section - it borders our section at the back so he is often peering into our yard - this is the view we normally have of him. I've always valued the handcrafted gifts my children give me - looking at them in chronological order is like viewing the ascent of man. This one's going straight to the trophy room. Kererū/wood pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae)."