Monday, 10 December 2012

Survival


One day I looked out to see this web catching the light.



A few days later I looked out to see what was left of a butterfly that had flown into the trap.


I've been throwing the ends of our bread out on to the lawn for the birds. Mostly it's the local blackbird family that comes to partake, but one day a whole flock of starlings (a murmuration) landed on the lawn like a scene  from Hitchcock's horror, The Birds.



I'm pretty sure the dowdier-feathered birds are young starling - there seemed to be about three or four families of them gathered at the feast.


 A sparrow made sure of his share.


As did a chaffinch.


The visitation only ocurred that one time, every other time since, the bread has only attracted the blackbird family and sparrows, chaffinches and wax-eyes, but not the starlings.

Neko Case is a singer I like and one of her songs (Power Nettles) has a line thats mentions starlings. It occurs to me that they are slightly repungnant (even their latin name sturnus vulgaris seems to hint at this) yet at the same time, they could bea bird of myth or poetry - a little like crows or ravens in other countries (New Zealand does not have crows or ravens). Note: My b-in-law tells me that there are intorduced crows in New Zealand but haven't thrived. He wonders why ... so do I. Very curious. (Maybe not enough oaks or elms in the mist to caw from?!)

I looked up some information  at the Te Ara (NZ Encyclopedia) site found HERE.  I found out that starlings were introduced to NZ in the early 1860's, that farmers find them useful for getting rid of ticks on sheep (they are the birds you will see sometimes riding a sheep's back, picking up ticks in the wool). Starlings are also useful for getting rid of the pest, the common grass grub. However, these days grape-growers (vintners) are not so keen on starlings because they are a bird that likes to eat grapes.


The other day on my walk,  just as I was just wondering why I bothered to lug my camera,  right in front of me a mama duck clambered up the bank,  her babies clamouring around her, almost lost in the grass.


I stood stock still and clicked as the story unfolded, literally at my feet.


She had so many babies! And on her own too (often you see the drake helping out in these scenarios - where was Papa Duck I wondered?).  Also quite a late brood, because after all, it is summer now. Spring is over.  The ducklings went crazy when they hit the grass and seemed to scatter in all directions. With soft, calm quacks, Mama Duck tried to get them going in one direction.


I counted them - eleven ducklings


 enjoying the grass and the daisies.


Mama was counting them too.


Proud and anxious all at the same time. A familiar mix of parental emotions.


 And off  they went.  Such little bits of fluff in a large, large world. I hope they all survive.

2 comments:

A said...

Oh my, my kitty would love this post! He loves ducks :-))) he also watches bird clips on YouTube.

Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

Agnes: Ha! That is cute.

Harbour

Harbour
'how this all harbours light'