Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Plants and birds

I suppose it wouldn't be me writing if there was no mention of the plants, there are hedges of agapanthus, huge hedges of phormium, hydrangeas and of pampas grass, it seems so natural here in its normal habitat, rather than an English garden. The tree ferns are to die for, up to 30' tall and between 6' and 15' across the top, enormous pohukatawa trees that are maybe 50' wide with lots of their branches resting on the floor and which are covered in red bottlebrush blossoms in spring; big and small kawakawa (Aussie Bush Basil) shrubs, japanese anemones, erigeron, cannas, even the occasional montbretia. They have rimu trees which are a sort of spruce, but with long hanging leaves around 8" long and miro trees, a bit like an English yew; then there are the kauri trees,

they are a form of pine but grow straight up without varying in diameter, much prized by carpenters and boatbuilders in years gone by and so now they are cherished as there were few left and they are trying to regenarate their kauri forests. The growth is so luxuriant everywhere, it's fabulous to see.

The birds are exotic as well, green and red crowned parakeets, eastern rosellas, tuis, silvereyes, pukekos, (a bit like our moorhens),

kingfishers by the hundreds, bigger than the UK version and not so flashy turquoise, but a beautiful blue instead; harriers everywhere you look, saddlebacks, wild turkeys, hihis, bellbirds and I could go on; oh yes, I forgot the magpies, they used to have white magpies and black magpies but after much fraternisation they now just have black and white ones! The oystercatchers are the same, they have variable ones now, although some black ones still survive. Gulls and terns abound all over the place as you're never far from the sea. Paradise shelducks are in every field and we have seen so many charms of goldfinches too, huge flocks of maybe 300-400 at a time, just stunning to watch.

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