25 September 2012

Nature walk

Today, after a rough night at home - or the hospital, actually, with Anna's eye - she and I ventured only 5 minutes from our house to one of Hamilton's best kept secrets, Hammond Bush. It would be harder to find a better urban bushwalk anywhere.

It is a boardwalk that runs along the banks of the Waikato River.

The place bursts with fertility. It seems as if the plants don't care if there's not a spare patch of soil: they just hook up to a tree instead! Many of the trees are laden with epiphytes.

There are river glimpses along the way, framed by native bush.

We finished next to a kowhai tree that is 150-200 years old, I believe. Kowhai are a Maori harbinger of spring, symbolising kumera planting time, and the women used to wear the flowers in their ears as decoration.

Today the madly flowering tree had five tuis in it, repeatedly dipping their perfectly shaped beaks into the flower's heart to withdraw the nectar. Tui and kowhai have evolved together, and the birds pollinate the tree in return for their sweet reward. These so-called honey eaters have such passionate, vibrant personalities. They are definitely not a serene bird. My favourite times are when I spy two or three of them perched in trees having a sing-off. Their entire body rocks and swells with their song, and it's obviously an exhausting performance. Of course they are also renowned for fighting.

A tui dips its beak into a kowhai flower.

Spot the poor, sore eye.

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