Spur-winged Plover

We have been watching a pair of spur-winged plovers nesting in our garden. We have seen them with chicks before and they are always around our property. Quite aggressive, we have even watched them fighting off hawks in an aerial, dive bombing, spectacular.

According to our bird bible “The Field Guide to the Birds of NZ” they were self-introduced to NZ from Australia in the 1930s. They are extremely noisy, even creating a racket at night if they are disturbed. This earns them the name Noisy Australians from some here.

They made their nest on the bark mulch and sat on 4 eggs, three of which hatched. The parents share incubation and we watched their change over duties regularly.

They didn’t stay here long after hatching—not much cover for the youngsters which must be very vulnerable until they can fly. I couldn’t get a photo of them because they were so tiny and mobile.

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Vireya Colour

There seems to be a Vireya in flower all the time in the courtyard. This small flowered red is “Red Mountain”, bred by Os Blumhardt and one of the most hardy and reliable producers of constant flushes of flowers throughout the year. Having said that this particular plant has taken a long time to settle into its new home and this is its first blooming.

Rhododendron vireya “Red Mountain”

This unnamed orange variety loves its new home. This is its third flowering. It’s an ungainly plant but it is hard to prune it back when it always has buds forming.

Ducklings

On Saturday this Mallard duck family emerged from the scrubby bush through our boundary fence. The duck and drake had been regular visitors to the pond over the last few weeks and we suspected she was sitting somewhere near. They were very busy all day exploring our whole property but the next day they had vanished, perhaps to a larger pond nearby.

Drake displaying his plumage

Spring Bulbs

These miniature narcissi have flowered quite well considering I shoved them into these small pots when I lifted a few from the farm garden. Hopefully next year they will be in the ground.

The hellebore is Anna’s Red purchased when it was just opening in June so it has given me lots of pleasure for several weeks. Sitting up on a bench like this it reveals all its beauty which I’ll miss when it is in the ground.

Pukeko

Up to 6 Pukeko (swamp hen) keep us constantly amused as they congregate on the lawn and by the dam in front of our house. They are really the most comical birds. Living in family groups they have their scraps, chasing one another around quite vigorously. But mostly they are feeding on our lawn, digging up weeds and clover with their strong beaks, holding the tasty morsel in their agile foot while they eat the tasty roots. Occasionally they venture down to the pond and wade or splash about—we have never seen them swim. They have become used to our presence but if alarmed will fly off in a clumsy manner crash landing on trees in the forest, squawking as they go.

Winter Cheer

Cymbidium hybrid orchid

This small, nameless Cymbidium orchid looks as though it needs re-potting but it continues to flower profusely (8 spikes now) every year, moving happily from the farm’s courtyard to this without a hitch. It receives a handful of slow release fertiliser each spring and the glowing yellow flowers open over several months.

Gates and Seat

It’s great to have the gates closing off the courtyard in place. They just need a latch and all will be complete.

Jason hanging the gates

Courtyard gates

The memorial seat for my Mother has been in storage ever since we move (a year ago). Now it is installed in its new home after a bit of restoration.

The crew testing their handiwork
My Mother’s memorial seat