Sunday, March 3, 2013

An Asian and Avian Week

This has been a really busy week. 

 * Miss 12 is a keen amateur birder.  The Glossy Ibis is a rare visitor to these parts although one apparently visits a local wetland every season. I read online that he’d been spotted for the first time this season so we decided to see if we could track it down. After two hours we’d spotted many species and been frustrated by a couple that we couldn’t identify before they flew off, but the Glossy Ibis was proving elusive. A worker told us where he spotted it a few days earlier but still no luck. Somewhat dejectedly we decided it was time to drive home but I did pick a route that took us past a small watery area just outside the wetland. As we drove past I happened to spy … some long brown legs. A quick U-turn later, a walk up the side of a reasonably busy road and success! That curved bill and choclately brown colour is pretty distinctive. Since it was on the far side of the pond and we couldn’t get a great view we drove into the neighbouring sub-division for a better look.  This area was hard hit by the earthquakes and there were lots of abandoned houses and the roads had me wishing we had a 4wheel drive.  But it was worth it.

We didn't get great photos but you can see the Glossy Ibis in the centre behind the pied stilt.

* Miss 12 wants to learn Maori this year. My job is to help her find suitable resources and I’ve been struggling to find things that work for us. We just finished one short course that introduced us to a bit of basic vocabulary and helped with pronunciation and we’ve now got a second that goes over some of the same ground but covers some new material as well. Slowly but surely is working for now.

* Miss 12 asked if she could write an essay on the Jane Austen novels she’s been reading – so far Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma and Sense and Sensibility. Umm -  of course you may. So she has been planning,  selecting quotes, drafting and redrafting. She even asked her older sister (who is studying for a degree with a minor in English) to make comments and suggestions. I’m looking forward to reading it but as yet she’s not 100% happy with it and isn’t willing to share yet.

* We hired a pedal boat and pedaled our way down the river that runs through our Botanic Gardens. Pedal boating was on Miss 12’s summer bucket list. It was fun (once we got our steering sorted) but surprisingly hard work when we had to battle against the churn of a whole group of canoes and kayaks.
* We watched the final episode of David Attenborough’s Africa series. This one was a behind the scenes look at the making of the series which was fascinating, but Miss 12 and I both preferred the stories of the animals themselves.

* Miss 12 is slowly savouring Bird:The Definitive Guide.

* We had a very cultural weekend. First up was a trip to the Chinese Lantern Festival. Highlights were the Shanghai Starlight Acrobatic Troupe, the dragon and lion dances and of course the lanterns themselves.

* The following Day was Japan Day, first held a year ago to commemorate the major earthquakes that rocked both our countries the previous year.  Miss 12 got to  try her hand at calligraphy and coloured and folded a cute little doll in a kimono. She had to settle for just watching the rice pounding since her arm has healed enough for her to wield the mallets yet. She also made a nezuke (a small pouch for holding pills or other small personal items that was pinned on to the sash of a kimono). Since it was Hinamatsuri (also known as Girls’ Day or Doll’s Day) the large, well-labelled display of dolls was especially relevant. We also saw drumming, a tea ceremony, manga drawing, plenty of beautiful kimonos and sampled lots of delicious food. A custard cream pastry was Miss 12’s favourite – not nearly as sweet as those we are used to.

* We finally got to listen to the next episode of Oliver Twist. We found a BBC podcast – a 10 part dramatization as part of their school radio service with a new episode available weekly. When we belatedly first discovered it the first five episodes were available so we listened to one daily. Then we thought we had a week’s wait but it turned out it was a two week wait. I think there must have been a mid-term holiday in the UK. Still the wait was worth it – we’re both finding the series to be a good adaptation.

* We’ve had seventeen Monarch butterflies hatch in three days so we have been busy tagging them as part of a citizen science project to help find out more about their wintering over behaviour. This year Miss 12 did some tagging herself – last year she was too hesitant and afraid of damaging them so I had to do the labour.

1 comment:

  1. My 13 year old loves Jane Austen, too!

    I loved reading this and seeing how interest-led learning works in your family!