Sunday, December 1, 2013

Week ending 1 December 2013

Another week, another birthday. This time it was the son previously known as Mr 15.  Now, for the next 12 months at least, to be known as Mr 16 he's eagerly looking forward to gaining his learner's licence and learning to drive. He just needs to wait until his new glasses arrive first - since I'm afraid he might fail the eye test at the moment!

Miss 13 and I went on two birding expeditions this week. The first was to a local lake known for attracting rare Arctic migrants. Sadly hardly any birds were there to be seen since the lake level was  very low and all the ponds around the edges, where the waders like to feed, have totally dried up - even the fairly large ones. We felt a little despondent on the drive home until Miss 13 spotted a female pheasant on the side of the road. A closer look revealed she had two young with her. By stopping in the middle of the road Miss 13 was able to get a few good shots while I kept a close look in the rear view mirror for other cars. Luckily, it was a quiet country road!

The other trip was with a conservation group to see a colony of White-flippered penguins which are unique to our region of the country. Our guide was the man who has as a volunteer, for the past thirty years, single handedly managed the area. He's trapped predators, built nesting boxes in the cliffs (no easy task when all the supplies including cement have to be carried in - the walk takes about 45 minutes), monitored and recorded all the birds, published research and everythign else that has needed doing. He knows the ancestors of all the chicks for several generations! We also talked to a woman who rehabilitates sick and injured penguins and maybe going to take over managing the colony.

It was a beautiful day  and the coastline looked pristine. This made for a very enjoyable walk.

If you look carefully you can spot the track zig-zagging in the distance.

A close look reveals the predator proof fence and steps leading down to the colony.

This is one of the hundreds of nesting boxes. The penguins happily choose to use these and it is easier to monitor the birds in these individually numbered boxes.  

The first burrow we inspected held this pair of 7 day old chicks. Our guide was surprised neither parent was around so he'll check to see if a parent returns tonight or tomorrow. If not the chicks will need to be sent to the rehabilitator.
A closer view of one of the week old chicks. Miss 13 had a chance to stroke them and their feathers were just as soft as they look apparently.

Another burrow held this pair. They are about 2-3 weeks old and  will be left alone by their parents during the day. Normally one parent will return at night to feed the chicks. The following night the other parent will return.

This adult was in one of the burrows. The white edging on the flipper distinguishes this bird from the more common Little Blue Penguin.

Once the adult was removed we got a chance to see the two eggs.They had a slight greenish tinge and were about the size of a chicken egg. The adults take turns incubating the eggs.

The rest of the week was quiet and mundane. We vamped up Latin by using our flashcards to play our adaptation of  this game of  Bang. Miss 13  began reading Ravens in Winter which Mr 21 gave her for her birthday. There's been more gardening , French, deep-cleaning and cooking ( Christmas shaped shortbread made with her sister). We also attended  a talk on birding in Burma, with special attention to the Spoon-Billed Sandpiper. The following day we stumbled across an online article about these same birds that had been hand-reared in Russia. Love it when that sort of coincidence happens. At the very last moment (last day of the month) I remembered I had a SQUILT music appreciation lesson on Tchaikovsky's November (also known as Troika) so we fitted that in. We both enjoyed the music, especially the orchestral version.

Mr 16 is still plugging away at his Economics. I think having very little work to complete just gives him more time for procrastination. He currently spends  about six hours per week training for cricket since he's part of a short term academy on top of his regular team commitments. Plus, the game itself takes up about 8 hours every Saturday. Scouting also takes up plenty of his time . He's currently Chairperson of his group and is learning that organising teenage boys isn't always as easy as it could or should be! This week he's been spending  any spare time with Miss 13 playing Yahtzee inside and shooting baskets outside - when he hasn't been studying the Road Code that is!

Miss 18 started a Defensive Driving course this week. Apart from making her a safer driver the main aim is so she can  more quickly  escape the 10pm curfew of the restricted licence - completing the course shaves 6 months of the restricted licence period. I took her shopping to find a dress for her friend's wedding next month (a big deal for me since I hate shopping and malls - especially leading up to Christmas).  She took part in a psychology study and has been getting in plenty of socialising prior to starting summer school after Christmas when she'll be too busy studying to do anything else! A trip to see Catching Fire with a friend led to a reading blitz as she re-read all the Hunger Games books over the weekend - interrupting the reading just long enough to go to a Christmas in the Park concert.

We've seen less of Mr 21 than usual this week as he's been hard at work preparing for a conference. He flew out today so we won't see him at all for most of the coming week.

I've spent too much time on Pinterest and as a result have driven myself slightly mad - should we basically unschool next year, should I use some of the great looking year long programmes I've pinned, or should I keep things light and interesting and finally get around to using all those fun, individual activities I've pinned? At least I'm not stupid enough to try and do all three approaches - even if I want to!

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