Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ngirungiru video

It was wet on Sunday so a good excuse to play with Microsoft Movie Maker and see if I could cut down 250Mb of video into something more manageable for posting. Fingers crossed that this 8Mb video clip works!

I get a lot of enjoyment watching his antics; the seat outside is getting spottier by the day and he spends a lot of his time either looking through the window or checking out his reflection. He'll often swoop down when I'm getting firewood or checking the traps around the house and usually greets me with his whistle.

There's a lot of other small birds around at present; I'm wondering if it's because of the woodpiles around harbouring more insects. I was entertained by 3 piwakawaka (fantails) dancing around catching insects and a small flock of tauhou (waxeye/silvereye) were checking out the back of the house this morning. There's usually birdsong most of the time here so it was noticeable when it suddenly got very quiet - I looked up and kahu (swamp or Australasian harrier) was patrolling the skies - hopefully for rats rather than my little feathered friends!

Another visitor was a lot smaller but just as welcome; a wee fruit fly lookalike was by the ranchslider and posed patiently for me whilst I took photos. It wasn't until I downloaded the pics from the camera that I noticed how unusual the markings and shape of its abdomen. It wasn't up on NatureWatch for long before an eagle-eyed Stephen identified it as a possible undescribed species of Prosochaeta. I can't find much information on this native species but Stephen has a fab photo of a similar one here.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Anzac Day 2015

Today marks the 100th anniversary of sad and tragic events at Gallipoli that brought home both the futility of war and the exceptional braveness of both sides. It is right and proper that we never forget the sacrifice of these soldiers, their families and communities so that we work harder to resolve problems with humanity and compromise.

Stewart Islanders mark this important day with a Dawn Service; well attended by residents and visitors at the Memorial which is down on the waterfront. Waves lapping on the beach (high tide at today's service) along with seabirds flying aerial tributes and a dramatic sunrise remind us how lucky we are to be on Halfmoon Bay and not Anzac Cove a century ago.

Floating lights set out on the Bay commemorated the soldiers that went to war and a bonfire on the beach honoured those who remained and kept the 'home fires' burning. As a prelude to the service, bells tolled 100 times and then the parade marched to the Memorial.

25 April 2015, 7am

Stewart Island Memorial on the waterfront

Parade members flank either side of the Memorial

Several wreaths and dozens of poppies were laid in front of the Memorial and poems read by Peot Laureate, Cilla McQueen, and Ben Watson were followed by readings by two students from Halfmoon Bay School.

Ben Watson reciting his poem

First rays of sun as the Last Post started playing
The Last Post had just begun when a stiff onshore wind sprung up with a few drops of rain. Very fitting and quite spooky.

Handmade poppies in the planter boxes

Wreaths and poppies laid by the public

The school fence was perfect for displaying information on the island's soldiers
TVOne News was present and video footage of our Anzac Day was on the 6pm news bulletin tonight or can be watched here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Return of the ngirungiru

When I first moved here in January 2011 I was entertained by a male ngirungiru (tomtit) who sat on the seat outside the ranchslider and watched me through the glass (see blogs in Feb and March 2011). He'd call out early in the morning and would swoop down to watch me working in the garden. I think he was just a young-un as he had a smudgy yellow breast and maybe he was feeling lonely after leaving the nest. I don't feed the birds so our interaction wasn't prompted by food - it seemed a genuine curiosity on both our parts. Although there are a number of ngirungiru around here, I hadn't had another curious fledgling until now - no doubt the older ones are too busy building nests and feeding young to have time on their hands!

So it was with great delight to have another wee, smudgy-breasted bird take an interest in what I'm doing. The wooden seat outside the ranchslider is spotted with bird poo, testament to the number of hours he sits on it looking through the ranchslider. Another favoured place is the stainless steel rubbish bin underneath the outside table; I'm sure he's looking to play with the bird that appears when he flies down to it and he spends ages 'cheeping' at his reflection and looks quite stunned when he flutters up to the top and finds the 'bird' has disappeared. I spent a lot of my three day weekend being entertained by his antics; here's some photos and I'll put up some video footage when I get time to do some editing.

He has a number of calls; the cheeping that he does to his reflection, an 'oyly-oyly' warble and also 3-5 loud whistles. He's often answered by other ngirungiru - I wonder if they are his parents/siblings. Maybe his Dad has told him stories about his youth and about the strange woman who talked to him and he's just checking it out for himself!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tour of New Zealand

What a great way to see Aotearoa! The Tour of New Zealand cycle race sees two groups start at opposite ends of the country and race up to Wellington over 8 days. The race started a day early for the Southern team when they came over to Stewart Island to participate in its first official cycle race and although the sunshine gave way to light rain just before the start, the race was run in cool but mostly dry conditions. Great to see the support for the riders and extra-loud cheering for the island riders that joined in. Stewart Island's Ship to Shore 4 Square is sponsoring Klaartje for the southern leg and she looked a treat kitted out in 4 Square colours and with Charlie 4 Square riding on her back.

Jill and Klaartje before the race

Easy to see where Klaartje is from - Charlie 4 Square covers
the back of her top

Thumbs up from our island rider

Bunting on the Glowing Sky shop frontage

Stewart Island's hi-tech message board!
The 20km race started soon after midday and it was mostly downhill from the airstrip to the waterfront; we abandoned the checkout and got outside in time to watch Klaartje lead the pack down Main Road and into the sharp right hand turn at the pub...

Yay! Klaartje out in front coming up to the right hand turn

Road marshal and TV1 film crew direct the cyclists out to Lonnekers
...and then out along the flat and winding road around Halfmoon Bay to Lonnekers where they did a U-turn, back past the pub, Glowing Sky and 4 Square and up the hill on their way to Horseshoe Bay. Lots of ups and downs on this stretch before doing another U-turn and heading back to complete the lap at the pub. Not finished here though as they did a second lap (out to Lonnekers then back out to Horseshoe before racing to the finish just along from the pub.

Pete, another local, racing past the pub

Coming back from Lonnekers on their way to Horseshoe Bay

Klaartje going past the shop on her last lap - go, Klaartje, go

200m from the finish line - Klaartje was 5th home and first woman overall

The Stewart Island Lions Club feeding the masses and raising funds
Well done to all participants; it's not an easy course but good preparation for the long haul from Bluff up to Wellington. Thanks very much for the entertainment, enthusiasm and hard work from the organisers to make sure it went off without a hitch. Check out TV1 news footage on their website and follow each day's race results here (all links open in new tab).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dry goods delivery

This week is my 20th in my new job and I'm now attuned to delivery days and what to do. Every now and then there's a glitch; like today when ferry sailings were cancelled and our fresh bread and milk delivery didn't take place. Locals take it in their stride but some visitors are surprised when the milk cabinet is empty or the egg shelf is bare.

Wednesday is dry goods delivery day along with bread and milk. The forklift first delivers ferry bins of crated bread and milk, then brings pallets stacked high with boxes with plastic wrapping to keep it all intact. Add a few pallets of beer, wine, coal and potting mix and soon we have a garage full of stock and spend the rest of the day restocking the shelves.

When the first ferry bin arrives (about 10.45am) most of the staff head out to the garage to help. The bread generally comes first, followed by the milk and these are unloaded and put out in the shop before the main pallets arrive.

Ferry bin with empty bread racks. The Tip-Top bag is how we get our
ice-cream from the refrigerated trucks at Bluff to the Ship to Shore
4 Square on Stewart Island

Milk crates in the right hand bin; the bins will be picked up by the forklift
when they are full
The boxes on the pallet are lifted off and stacked in the garage; generally we can offload a pallet before the forklift returns with the next. If we get behind then we have further to carry the boxes and, if it's raining, the stock also gets wetter. Although the pallets are wrapped in plastic, they can get wet in rough seas or when it's raining; not quite so easy lifting soggy cardboard boxes - especially ones with glass bottles in!

The 'box wall' after Wednesday's dry goods delivery

Another view of the 'wall' - all the boxes will be unpacked by day's end
Phase 2 starts when the forklift has delivered its last load: one by one the boxes will be opened, carried to the appropriate shelf in the shop and unpacked. Not quite so easy when the shop is full of customers and the narrow aisles cluttered with staff, boxes and stepladders to reach the high shelves. No night fill here and I reckon we should sell tickets as it's quite fascinating to watch the shelves being filled. This is where we check the dates of all stock and reorganise shelves and price labels to make the new stock fit in. Any surplus is put in the storeroom until there's space on the shelf.

Pallets of beer waiting to be put away
Some boxes have yellow labels; these are 'repacks' which contain a mixture of goods - it's a bit like opening Christmas presents as you don't know what's inside. It's a good workout and combined with great teamwork it's an enjoyable time in my working week.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Taking stock

I had a new experience just over a week ago when Ship to Shore 4 Square carried out its annual stocktake. Inside the store it looked just like any other day but behind the scenes it was more like a military operation as a slick team scurried about counting stock in the chillers, freezers and storage areas. The shop closed its doors early at 3.30pm and then an army of us swarmed down the aisles counting every item in the shop.

The sign had been up for a number of days but several people still tried to
get in after we closed

Stock in the storeroom was counted early before the shop shut
I was a 'counter' and first counted the stock behind the tills before helping Jules and Matt on aisle 2 (including herbs, baking items, plastic wrap and cat food). We grabbed a handful of paper strips, counted the stock, wrote the number on the strip and popped it under the item we were counting. Jules then came along with her electronic recorder, scanned the item and entered in the number we had written on the strip. Easy peasy! When the 'recorders' had finished an aisle, they coloured it in on the master map and then started on the next section.

The 'end' display has been 'counted' with numbers written on the paper
strips - it's now waiting to be 'recorded' by Jules

The aisle 3 team

Sam and Charlotte recording the stock behind the tills; Jules
'recording' the scene with her camera

Fern recording numbers on aisle 1 - paper strips galore

Karen and Richard working hard in aisle 4
Teamwork won the day and I was very impressed with the planning and execution of a difficult job; consistent methods and, with experienced people on hand to guide the newbies, the whole operation was completed by 8pm - it would have been earlier but Carol had made us a fab roast turkey dinner with roast veges, followed by an ice-cream or drink. Such a buzz to work with dedicated and hard-working people that work toward a common goal.