Saturday, December 7, 2013

Week ending 8 December 2013

There were plenty of highlights this week. Lovely summer weather was just one of them.

Miss 13 and I managed three birding trips this week. Our first was to an estuary north of here where we happily spent the morning observing wading birds and managed to spot one new species - not as many as we'd been hoping for but certainly better than nothing.

Two days later we went to an estuary in town to get a close-up look at the Bar-Tailed Godwits roosting at high tide. In particular we wanted to get a close look at the male (who due to some hormonal fluctuation perhaps) is donned in his breeding plumage now, the complete opposite to every other godwit! He's apparently been here for about five or six years, and never makes the annual trip back to Alaska or Siberia.

You can spot the godwit in reverse plumage in the centre of the middle photo. We couldn't get close enough to get a clearer shot this time. Miss 13's scope does let us get great views from a distance though!

While there we met another birder who is known for his work monitoring the banded godwits. He kindly took the time to explain the system to us,  and another birding friend has since sent some information to us. So now we'll be checking out the bands on the godwits that have them and be able to tell where the bird was banded and possibly where else it has been on its travels.

Our third trip was to a lake with the local birding group where we helped conduct the annual summer wader count. No rare waders on our patch but we did see 50 Royal Spoonbills in one group - about ten times as many as we've previously seen together. They are one of my favourite birds - probably because they look so exotic.

Another highlight for Miss 13 was kayaking with Scouts. She hasn't been kayaking for a while and was pleased to discover she is a lot better at it than she used to be.

Mr 21 returned safely from his conference.   One of the highlights for him was a side trip to Weta Workshop, famous for the special effects on movies such as Avatar, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and, most recently, The Hobbit.

Three trolls outside Weta Workshop.

He'd previously made the acquaintance of Gollum and Gandalf  at the airport!

 While in the capital he also found the time for a tour through Parliament.

This is the Beehive. The Prime Minister's office is here.

Miss 18  spent the weekend away with the rest of the newly-elected committee of the university's dance club. Apparently a chance to get to know each other and to plan the programme for the coming year. Much was accomplished apparently, even leaving enough time to indulge in a visit to the local hot pools! Her other highlight of the week was the release of  her university results - all As or A+s so she's happy.

Mr 16's highlight was  his cricket team winning their section of the competition at the weekend.


He attended two Annual General Meetings for Scouting this week - one for his group as a whole  and one for his section. He was re-elected Chairperson of his section and also elected Activities Officer, a position he more or less did by default this year anyway. Not sure if this counts as a highlight or not!

Christmas is starting to make its presence felt . Miss 13 and Miss 18 made the family's Christmas cards this week.

They completed a lot of the decorating (still got the real tree to go but we don't get that until a little closer to Christmas Day - an issue with a summer Christmas is that if you get your real tree too early it looks a little bedraggled by Christmas Day no matter how well you care for it), planned the menu and shopping list and wrote the Christmas bucket list. They are real traditionalists when it comes to Christmas. If we do it once they want to do it every year so it is important to keep track of exactly what we should be doing. 

One tradition is the Santa Parade. Since Miss 18 was out of town Miss 13 talked Dh into going with her. 

While they enjoyed it I think some of the  magic has gone for her. Probably an inevitable part of getting older and maybe a sign that we're almost ready to retire some of our Christmas traditions and replace them with newer ones, now that we are a family comprised only of teenagers and young adults.

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