Wow, it has been an insanely busy week around here with three major, out-of the ordinary events and activities. First up was a two-day 5 Minute Bird Count course for Miss 12 and me. 5 Minute Bird Counts are used by the Department of Conservation and other organisations to monitor bird populations, especially in forested areas. Basically a whole lot of points are selected in a specified area and an observer records all the birds they see or hear at each point in five minutes. This gives a good indication of the bird population in the specified area. During the course we learnt a lot about bird identification especially bird calls, which are especially important in forests where birds can be more easily heard rather than seen. We also learnt the correct methodology for conducting a count and recording the data as well as looking at how it can be analysed and used. If we pass - and I think we should since we know we passed the section we found most difficult - we'll be certified to assist with future counts. As conservation funding is cut trained volunteer help with tasks like 5 Minute Bird Counts becomes more important. It's nice to think we'll hopefully be in a position to contribute something positive to the birds that give us so much enjoyment.
The annual Scouting JOTI (Jamboree over the Internet) is being held this weekend. It's an international event where Scouts from all over the world connect with each other on line, chat and hopefully learn about life and Scouting in other parts of the world. Our Scouting Zone had an overnight camp where JOTI was the main activity for more than 24 hours. Dh and Mr 15 attended all weekend since they helped with set up and pack away as well . Dh was mainly involved in helping the Scouts meet the requirements of the Computer Badge but Mr 15 has completed some extra training and he was involved in monitoring on-line chat, warning and banning people for inappropriate behaviour as well as trouble shooting with any technical issues. It was a great outlet for his computer knowledge. Given world time zone differences the JOTI continued after the official camp here finished so even though everyone is now home Mr 15 is still busy with his online monitoring and probably will be until the early hours of tomorrow.
Miss 12 is also taking part in JOTI this evening since she was unavailable for most of the weekend. We spent the weekend in Akaroa on an ornithology outing. Akaroa is a lovely seaside village with a very French flavour. It was first settled by the French and was intended to be an official French colony but the British ended up claiming it just weeks before the French arrived. The bush comes right down to the sea, many of the original wooden buildings from the mid 1800s remain, the French flag flies and many of the streets and business have French names.
It is about an hours drive away but it took Miss 12 and I about 8 hours to get there because we made so many birding stops along the way! The main activity was a four hour boat trip out of the (very long) harbour and several miles out into the open sea to look for seabirds. Several species of albatross, petrel and shearwater were seen plus little blue penguins, a gannet and many species we are more familiar with. We also saw a sea lion colony plus Hector's Dolphins (the world's smallest and rarest) jumping right alongside the boat. Some magical sights. Sadly we personally didn't see as many species as others or enjoy the experience as much as we could have since we were both afflicted by seasickness :-( The anti-seasick pills did not work! Mind you the boat was lot smaller than I had envisaged and we were really rocked by the waves in open water. Thankfully we both recovered quickly once we returned to land so we were able to enjoy a late afternoon birding expedition into the bush with some more experienced birders. Still not sure whether to be disappointed or relieved that they had no more luck than us finding one particular species that we were keen to see! Still it was lovely walk with lots of birds to enjoy. No bird photos though because it's hard to stand up and take photos of large sea bird when you are felling queasy and just as hard, albeit it a different way, to take photos of small birds that move quickly in and out of forest greenery. Miss 12 and I quickly made the decision to just enjoy the birds and not worry about trying to capture a decent shot.
Before driving home we indulged in a little history morning with an audio tour of the historic township. The commentary was filled with lots of stories that really made the past come alive. We followed it up with a visit to the museum. On the drive home we took a slight detour to try and track down a small flock of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos, a bird fairly uncommon in this country . Being a large white bird they were relatively easy to spot (especially since we'd been give some tips on where to find them) but were a lot quieter than Mr 21 led me to believe. He spent the summer in Australia where he was woken by their loud call in the morning and kept awake but it at night. Possibly they are less vocal at noon on a hot day!
It was great to arrive home to freshly cleaned house and with dinner already prepared. Responsible teens and young adults are a wonderful part of the family!
As wonderful as this week was - well most of it - I'm looking forward to next week being a more normal, sedate pace.