Thursday, April 27, 2006

Paradise Lost

The Paradise Shelduck, or Tadorna variegata, is a fairly common species in New Zealand. The largely vegetarian and lifelong mates favour grasslands, pastures or estuaries. The Mary Wilson Reserve in front of my office window is a large grassy area bordering on the bay, with a small stream emptying under some pohutakawa trees.

Last October, a nice couple made it their habitat, and without much ado, set out to grow the family. With the female (conspicuous white head and neck) incubating and the male ever watching, we soon had 7 new additions to our community. Throughout November and December, I kept a keen eye on the family, which managed to survive intact with 4 chicks. It was fun to watch them grow and take to the water, and soon they became real characters of the waterfront, with people and cars and even dogs finally leaving them alone to do their thing. They grew rapidly, and were floating around the bay when any danger was sensed. I enjoyed watching them work as a team.

Sometime last month, all but the mother have disappeared. She wanders aimlessly around the reserve and foreshore, a familiar sight but missing her brood. Since the young are able to fly at about 2 months, there was never a question they might disappear one day, but what about mom? She has so much time on her hands right now, it is discomforting to see her so abandoned. Still, she nods and gives the customary and shrill zeek-zeek whenever I walk by. I am not sure what it is she is waiting for, their return, or just a simple life on her own. Good question actually, and will update as events unfold...

Food issues (cont'd).. A new book by Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness author Eric Schlosser has understandably, got the MacDonalds PR machine in a bit of tizzy. Aptly titled Chew on This, it has a focus on the relationship the fast food giants have with their target consumer: kids. Staying with food, (and we must as long as we live), being in London and wondering where to eat without taking a loan or too many additives, this list of healthy fast food spots could be more than helpful. We have the tiny Organic Shop here on Waiheke, and with its small kitchen turning out some delicious home made treats, is a regular stop for me. Next time I am in London doing whatever one does there, this list will be helpful I am sure.

NPR, the National Public Radio network of stations in the U.S. ran a series of listener generated essays on personal values back in the 50's apparently inspired by the late Edward R Murrow. He being the principled journalist of Good Night and Good Luck. They have recently re-instated the program, called This I Believe, and the essays, from all over the country, are quite remarkable in their simplicity and impact. The latest is here, and it is entitled There is More to Life than My Life.

Need I say more?

1 comment:

James Samuel said...

A quick hello from across the island. We really should get serious (one day) about a CSA project for this island. ;) I enjoyed some of your posts - can't say I read them all, just stumbled in tonight for the first time. Nice photos too.