28 January 2008

Taking a short break

I am taking the week off in between jobs. Friday was my last day at NIWA and Monday I'll be starting at Alchemy Group Ltd. I will be miss all my coworkers at NIWA, and being in the thick of scientific research, but I was overdue for a change. Alchemy is a small java development shop and I am looking forward to learning all sort of new cutting edge technology.
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A bird in the bush

I must admit, I miss the mammals. Not that I ever wanted to come face to face with a bear or a cougar - seeing their tracks was enough for me - but it was kind of nice to know they were out there. But here in New Zealand the only mammals around are introduced ones, and most of them as now considered to be pests as they decimated the native bird population. So I've gotten into birds. Lately, it seems like our yard has been attracting a bellbird, amongst one of New Zealand's favorite native birds

Bellbird (korimako)

Actually, I think it was here last year too, but I only heard it once and I was not exactly sure. This is really a cool thing, as these birds are not very common in urban areas. Perhaps my slashing and hacking in an effort to go native is working? Nah, wishful thinking ... for now.

Fantail (piwakawaka)

Another all time favorite is the fantail. We had quite a few in the spring and I'd swear one came to check out the young kowhai tree I recently planted in the front yard.


Other more common visitors to our garden are starlings (introduced), gray warblers (endemic), goldfinches (introduced) and blackbirds (introduced). Blackbirds have nested on our porch for two springs in a row now.

Gray warbler (riroriro)

In the Heathcote estuary we have all sorts of marine birds, and I could have sworn I even saw a kingfisher while hiking up the Bridle Path a while back. I still can't get used to seeing ducks in sea water, shags (cormorants) perching on trees in Hagley Park and seagulls in alpine lakes. I am trying to get Steven to buy some good bird watching binoculars :-)



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13 January 2008

A fledgling Kiwi

After what seemed an interminable wait Steven has finally received his permanent residency visa. He also gets a return resident visa for multiple re-entries. That's good for 2 years after which he will probably get an indefinite. The nice thing is that now he can vote, qualifies for low student fees, subsidized SAR (search and rescue) advanced courses and all sorts of other neat benefits only available to residents. He's going to sign up for a beginner Italian language course at the local technical institute. Expect some interesting postings :-)
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