Thursday, 26 July 2012

tui, kiwi and more

It is now mid-winter but it looks like summer with a clear blue sky apart from a few wispy clouds well out to sea. The bush is looking very healthy following heavy rain earlier in the month. Olearia and many other sub canopy trees and shrubs are putting on new growth and there appear to be plenty of insects about - including Weta. Fungi of many kinds have stretched our identification abilities.
Most of our recent activities have been around estate birds.
In the past week or so there appears to have been an influx of tui. There were more than a dozen birds in one small dead tree - some singing, some squawking. I estimated a similar number of birds in the surrounding bush. The noise was quite deafening. Standing at the front door there are nearly always half a dozen or more birds visible in the emergent ridge-top rata or high overhead. We haven't been able to identify a food source that may have attracted them and it appears more like territorial behaviour. Maybe as a consequence of the tui activity there is very little sign of bellbirds. At times they call from the bush but they seem to be keeping a low profile. Not so the kereru. We saw a  flock of ten birds from the sitting room window and standing outside the house there are usually several birds visible including courting couples. One bird was stall-diving so they may be preparing to breed.
We now have a regular tomtit that feeds under the washing line and around the house. Its very soft call  and warble is usually the give away when it comes visiting - apparently attracted by our presence. Fantails usually keep us company and on fine, still days numerous birds are flitting above the bush. They also join the foraging silvereye flocks. I have counted flocks of more than fifty birds and on one occasion I estimated over one hundred birds feeding around the house. The bush was boiling with activity. There are usually a few grey warbler, bellbird and fantail in attendance. When in a five finger bush immediately outside the dining room window the silvereye were hunting insects amongst the berries.
We have been kiwi call counting recently. A combination of bio-acoustic recorders and call counting suggests that we only have 3 or 4 males on the estate and a possible female. Densities are certainly low and birds call infrequently. I had one bird come out onto the drive about 5 metres from me which was the first I had seen on the estate. Some nights the bush is alive with Morepork and at other times they seem few and far between. If no birds are calling you can lean back and admire the astonishing starscape!
Of the exotics - Song Thrush and Dunnock are singing and there was a covey of a dozen or so Quail beside the estate road.
Rat and possum monitoring starts soon so it will be interesting to see the situation prior to bird nesting. My next post will report on the final kiwi results and give an update on the pest monitoring.