Sunday, May 25, 2014

Week Ending 25 May 2014

This week I discovered that Miss 13 has a bit of a competitive streak in her and is motivated by statistics - things I hadn't really seen in her up until this point. She has started regularly using eBird to keep track of her sightings and noticed that a friend of ours has seen just 4 more species than us in the region this year. Said friend is out of the country until the end of the month so Miss 13 decided it would be the perfect time to try and overtake her on the Top 100 Birder's List! She sat down with a list of birds we might be able to track down and the most likely locations and formed a plan - limited by the fact that seasickness means we are not keen to try birding at sea again any time soon! Which is a pity because it would be surefire way to easily increase our number of species seen.

We've had mixed success with the plan. Our first port of call was a local estuary and surroundings where we had a chance of spotting as many as 5 new species, but more realistically thought we'd find at least one. After exploring for several hours we came home without having spotted a single new species! We did discover that one of the roads we used to travel down alongside the river had obviously washed away in recent flooding. It simply isn't there any more. And a tree that was supposed to be favoured by Little Owls has been either chopped or blown down. It no longer exists either!

The Tui  - one of the three birds we've successfully spotted this week.

A couple of days later we set out in the opposite direction. We were hoping for two new birds for the year and we got great views of both of them. The Tui didn't surprise us since we went to a spot where we were virtually guaranteed to find them. The  Brown Creeper is a bird that we keep missing even at sites where it is meant to be relatively common, so we were delighted to get good views of at least five of them. Then a couple of nights ago we headed to a park that has a population of Little Owls. We've heard them calling there before but never spotted one. After about an hour of trying to track calls in the dark we finally heard a loud call close at hand. The third tree we checked revealed one small owl perched there. We watched it for about 20 minutes before it flew off silently. Miss 13 loves owls so this was a highlight for her. Today we hoped to head up into the mountains. But two days ago the news carried a report that the only road through the area was closed due to a major rockfall!  Close investigation revealed we could get to most of the area we hoped to visit so, since we'd be virtually guaranteed to see one new bird, we thought we'd still go. However, weather forecasts in the region for today were for heavy rain, gale force winds, and potentially heavy snow. Reluctantly we conceded defeat! So,we are sitting one species short of tying with our friend and two short of nudging ahead of her. The rockfall should be cleared later in the week and hopefully the weather will be better since Miss 13 is really determined to meet her goal by the end of the month!

We didn't spend all week out birding though - tempting though that was. We attended a bird-related meeting - a talk from the head of a shorebird centre where we hope to send Miss 13 for a week long course early next year. If that goes ahead she'll at least know one if the faces in advance!

There was also plenty of time at home for bookwork such as this rather heavy duty Latin translation.

It's the longest and most complex Miss 13 has tackled and she did great.  We  finished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - or at least I thought we had. The Homeschool Freebie of the Day site recently had a link to both a comic book adaptation and a brief audio dramatization of Tom Sawyer. These were perfect for after we finished reading the novel but before we completed the culminating activities in the study guide. Except I then discovered another study guide I'd downloaded a while ago but forgotten about! It's got a couple of nice activities that I'd like to do so I guess we'll be sticking with Tom for another day or two.  Miss 13 is also busy with these logic puzzles at the moment - very similar to MindBenders  (recommended in The Well-Trained Mind) but free which is good! She's also enjoying Battleships and some other online logic puzzles from this site. I guess logic plus the birding challenge are our extras for now. We've finished with poetry teatime and music appreciation for now but haven't formally replaced them with anything.

In other news Mr 21 dropped by this week to tell us he'd just been awarded a prestigious grant which will allow him to travel to a conference in Chile later this year. That's great news for him. I just hope Chile doesn't suffer any large earthquakes in early October! Mr 16 is busy with a large economics assignment - analyzing changes in New Zealand's Gross Domestic Product over the last 25 years. Dh is in charge of this subject and decided it was time to challenge Mr 16. It'll be interesting to see what his finished product is like! Miss 19 is also busy - juggling her heavy study load with the last minute preparations for the dance club's big event of the year which is just two week's away.

Linking Kris's Weekly Wrap-Up.


  1. A little combativeness never hurt anyone. ;) We are both very competitive here. As always I love how much birding you both do! Congrats to your son. How amazing is that!!??? Great week Sandra. Happy weekend!

  2. Thanks Karen. My son's grant is a bigger deal than I realised. He's now sending me press releases featuring him! Very strange but a nice counter to those nights where I worried that our inability to do hard labs at home would hinder his progress in chemistry.