Sunday, December 14, 2014

Week Ending 14 December 2014

The highlight of the week for Miss 14 and I was a birding trip to a local estuary. Lovely weather, lots of birds on nests or tending to their young and, best of all, a new bird for our life list. The Eastern Curlew is a rare Arctic migrant with only ten or so birds in this country at any one time. The site we were at is one of the sites they are known to frequent with one or two birds normally present during the summer. So far we'd had no luck seeing it but this was our lucky day and we spent half an hour or so watching it roosting and preening. It is difficult to mistake the Eastern Curlew since it has the longest bill of any wader in the world at 20cm long. In fact it looks slightly ridiculous, but at least it is easy to identify! So many waders look very similar - especially to the uninitiated.

Not the bird we saw - we couldn't get a photo. This one from By Aviceda (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Miss 14 and I attempted to get ourselves in the Christmas spirit. The local museum runs a Santa hunt every year and for some reason we've never gone. So we spent a morning wandering round the museum, spotting Santas as we went.

We also went did some giraffe spotting the same day. Wild in Art is an international organisation sponsoring public art trails worldwide. The theme of ours is Stand Tall - a good, positive slogan undoubtedly designed to boost post-earthquake fatigue. Nearly one hundred large decorated giraffes are gracing public spaces all over the city. Some have been decorated by schools and these will be returned to the schools once the event is over. Others have been sponsored by businesses and decorated by artists. These will be sold with the money donated to charity.

Speaking of earthquakes our sleep was disturbed the other night by a reasonable sized earthquake. The girls and dh were woken by it and I was woken by the budgie squawking (he probably fell off his perch) but Mr 17 slept through. Luckily it wasn't large enough to cause any damage. Just large enough to get the heart racing and remind us that Mother Nature isn't entirely settled just yet. It was the first earthquake we've felt in months. When I checked the official site we'd still had 100 quakes in the last couple of months but, with the exception of this one, all were all small and undetectable. Back in the worst of 2010 and 2011 we were experiencing 100 in a day or two and feeling most of them! Hopefully those days are over.

The girls made a day of Christmas shopping and took the time to purchase some gifts for charity. It's a tradition we started when they were quite small and it's nice that they have decided to continue it for  themselves.

We also attended a Community Carol service but were a little disappointed since there were very few actual carols. We were going to try another this evening but my routine optometrist's appointment turned out to be rather less routine than planned. As a result my eyesight was still rather fuzzy and uncomfortable so we stayed home. I have a repeat performance at the optometrist's in seven days. Hopefully it will rule out the major complication he is currently concerned about.

Miss 19 had a meeting with a potential supervisor for her honour's project next year. It went well and it looks like she might make an unofficial, early start so they can get ethics approval sooner rather than later. In years gone by some students haven't received approval until June for research projects which must be submitted in October. Sacrificing part of a summer break to avoid such stresses seems worthwhile!

Miss 14 and I finished our Shakespeare MOOC this week and Mr 17 finally finished the history one. He had his Venturer AGM where he happily passed over the chairperson's role. It will be his final year in the unit. He'll continue to represent it on the regional council, and also provide background support as he eases into "retirement" and completes the last of his requirements for the Queen's Scout - the highest award in Scouting here,  sort of comparable to Eagle Scout I think. He's been busy preparing for a five day tramp which starts tomorrow. Since it involves a number of river crossings I'm hoping for no rain and calm, gentle-flowing rivers until he's safely home.

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