Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Others

Although there's been many harrier to occupy my daily thoughts this year, it's not surprising to know that I have not found them at every site I've visited across Auckland. Of course, I'm always ever hopeful and scan the skies incessantly wherever I am. But sometimes there are simply no raptors to be found. In those instances, I let the 'others' entertain me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Captain and I

Over the last six weeks or so, the harrier have been busy a-courting and I've been busy watching them do so (voyeur, anyone??). I've also taken the opportunity to name the pairs that I've spent time with, as I do feel I've bonded somewhat with them. Over in East Tamaki are one of my main pairs who I've named Captain and Tenille. Don't ask why; I never liked their music, my parents never liked their music, but I just find it amusing (attribute this to crazy days out on my own in the field). How have I bonded with them? Case in point:

Yesterday, in delightful gale-force winds, Captain led me on a merry dance indeed. I must have traversed several k's, jogging back and forwards to keep him in sight as he cruised his territory on the hunt for a snack. Which would have been fine ... if I wasn't layered up to resemble a marshmallow in protection against the cold, if there hadn't been horizontal rain to accompany the howling wind, if the howling wind wasn't making my eyes water so much I could barely see and if my gumboots hadn't both decided that was the day to spring a leak ...

Perhaps it was his form of payback for the less-than-cool name, because I swear Captain was enjoying watching me stumble and mutter my way across the blustery hillside. I was just very grateful indeed that the lawnmower men (see June's postings) were nowhere to be seen!

Wistful anthropomorphism aside, some of Captain and Tenille's movements are related to me being so close to their home turf; they will only allow a human to come so close to where they are before they move away. Bonnie and Clyde (I know! Cool, huh?!) however, well they're accustomed to people being a bit closer, due to the nature of their territory, so life is a bit easier when I'm with them. But that's a story for another day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lines and Lines and Lines and Lines and ...

Libraries. Places where knowledge abounds and is limitless. Sources of wisdom and inspiration, solitude and reflection, investigation and discovery. And raptor books.

One fantastic aspect of my research has involved trawling libraries in search of texts that relate to my topic. However, I cannot be blamed for any side-tracking on birds of prey other than hawks. A favoured rainy day pastime, delving into a world of the feathered fearless has seen me lose track of the hours on numerous occasions; falcon, hawk, eagle, kite, buzzard, kestrel or owl, the family does not matter. What matters is that these incredible birds capture one's heart and spirit and the amount of skill and pure instinct they posses is simply intangible for a feeble human to ever understand.

Great horned owl, Vancouver, Canada

"A raptor's vision is the sharpest of all living creatures ... In birds of prey, the eyes weigh more than the brain. The two eyes are twice as large as the brain itself." (Sy Montgomery, Birdology) I may not have the eyes of a raptor but I know the ones I see, be it on the page or on the glove, never fail to take my breath away.

Golden eagle, Terelj National park, Mongolia