6 October, 2021

Day 6 of Writing Nangak Tamboree

I’m sitting on a fallen log by the lake. It’s a bright, clear, breezy morning after days of grey sky and rain. After something like 245 days of lockdown over two years (and I managed to get locked down in Auckland as well over summer), we could do with a bit of blue sky. Light ahead, all that.

One small but seemingly significant aspect of lockdown is extreme hair length. None of us have been to the hairdresser or barber for months. So last night I hacked off all my hair. Had to happen. And this morning, out here, my ears and forehead are cold and it’s all my own fault.

This is a favourite sitting spot. I often see people here, resting mid-ride with bikes scattered everywhere, or feeding kids in pushers. There’s a young man who often practices tai chi by the water of an evening.

Dead trees in lake

It seems to be mowing time, after the rain. I walked along freshly slashed tracks to get here. Across the lake, on the sports fields, someone’s pushing a mower, leaving stylish lime green stripes in their wake. How strange, all these not-quite abandoned places, standing empty for so long during lockdown but kept on life support until the return of the (vaccinated) hordes in slightly-too-tight sports gear.

A jogger slogs past, puffing, feet slapping on the bitumen. I feel like cheering them on.

The water glitters in the early morning light, reflections rippling up under dead tree trunks. Three ducks zoom past, arguing about something. My handy pocket guide tells me they’re Pacific black ducks, although frankly up until now all ducks look the same to me. It’s the same handy pocket guide to birds as I had when I was a teenager, though. Do birds go out of date? (Don’t worry: I also have an app.) Some, at least, are extinct – more all the time – and some have taken over the world. When I first had my handy pocket guide (Gould League series, published 1969, though I bought this 1990 edition for an entire dollar at an Op Shop), ibises were dead exotic and Mynahs hadn’t yet pushed every other bird into the margins.

I spend quite some time trying to photograph a pair of Little Lorikeets before realising that the Rainbow Lorikeets on the other branch are taking it in turns to swoop at me. They’re nesting in a hollow. Everyone’s got the swoops lately. I move back so they don’t have to worry.

Rainbow lorikeet

A decent nesting hollow is as valuable as beachside real estate. They take years to develop. Here, and all through the parks around the area, trees are dotted with nesting boxes to compensate for all the nesting hollows lost in land clearing years ago. There are different designs for different birds and creatures (I have one at home for microbats).

nesting box high on a eucalypt

This one’s been colonised by bees. Not great for the intended occupant, but it does make an excellent mini-hive.

I’m sure they’re very cosy if you’re a possum or flying fox or rosella. It seems a sad business to be making plywood boxes when you could have just left the trees in the first place. But that’s where we are now – regenerating vegetation that’s been lost, cleaning up waterways, reintroducing species and keeping them safe.

See? Light ahead.

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