Gathan Beaga

Bellbird: Anthornis melanura

This weekend I’ve been back down on the farm for A Significant Birthday (not one of mine). Which was very nice.

Bellbird / KorimakoAnother really nice thing was being there in autumn. It’s probably been 20 years since the last time I was in Central Otago in the autumn, and I’ve really missed those colours.

The other thing I miss are bellbirds, of which there are few in Wellington, though possibly increasing in number. My Mum has several (fairly sleek and well-fed) individuals she feeds in a tree outside the kitchen window, and every half an hour their regular beat takes them by. On their way past they stop to sing, and so their song is always nearby.

Bellbird / KorimakoOf course, I had to try and get some photos…

I stood under the beech tree by the old rough-cast concrete water tank, and as one of the males swung by for a feed by I repeated its song back at it. He flittered about in the tree a bit, working his way closer, pausing every so often to cast his fairly spooky red eye at me.

I kept whistling my response back. Closer and closer he came, until he bounced out of the tree and on to the old tank, just a couple of metres away.

Still, I whistled his song back at him. Off the tank he came and into the shrubs even closer to me.

And then… he dropped down almost to the ground, about a metre or so from my feet. Not since that nearly disastrous time in the apple orchard have I been this close to a bellbird:

Bellbird / Korimako

Not finding much to impress him, he flew back up into the beech tree, then along to the bird feeder for a drink, then away to the top of a leafless silver birch tree to announce his presence.

Nothing much for him to see. Moving right along to the next item in the day’s business.

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