Some of the things we've been busy with in the past two weeks.
* Miss 15 and I made a quick trip to my favourite birding spot, a small estuary north of where we live. A New Zealand Dotterel, rare in these parts, had been reported there and we were thrilled to track it down without any difficulty. Such a level of ease seems to be rare for us!
* Mr 18 finally finished his schoolwork for the year. I was beginning to think it would never happen. Thank goodness for deadlines in the form of university applications. Since we have avoided the state exam system he had to apply for special admission and I had to fill in a form attesting to his readiness for university study. I made it clear I would not sign the form if his homeschooling was not complete. He made the deadline - with barely an hour to spare!
* Mr 18 had a successful first game with his new adult cricket team, taking a wicket and scoring more runs in one game than he had all season for his youth team. He seems to do best when he feels the need to prove himself.
* We've worked on Mr 18's university application. It was a source of much hilarity as we helped him brainstorm his application letter - "Please admit me so my mother doesn't have to put up with me for another year!" - but eventually a more suitable and serious tone was reached and the application is in. Now we just hope he's accepted. His application should be more straightforward than his older siblings (he earned a high grade in the course he did this year as a high school student so there is some impartial evidence of his abilities) but it is unclear exactly what grounds they use to determine the acceptance or otherwise of special applicants.
* Miss 15 and I took a quick road trip to the West Coast. It was a belated birthday present for her. She's never seen a Weka before and really wanted to see one. They are rare in our part of the country but very common on the West Coast. It was a trip of two halves. There were some good birding experiences. There were plenty of Riflemen (our smallest bird) seen and heard in one of our national parks. They all seemed to be feeding chicks and we thought we observed at least two females going to the same nest. Some research revealed it isn't at all uncommon for Riflemen to have one or more helpers to raise the chicks. We also saw plenty of Kea along the way including several that were probably banded by a friend of ours who did some research on them last year. We know he'll be pleased to hear which birds were still around. Once we reached the West Coast there were plenty of Weka for Miss 15 to see and photograph. We even took a guided visit to a Westland Petrel colony. These birds only breed in burrows in the foothills in a small area near where we stayed. Most of the birds had finished breeding and left and just a few juveniles remained but we had really close up views, watching them stretch and flap their wings in preparation for their maiden flights, which will see them leave for South America and not return until they are ready to breed in five years time. It was quite an adventure, walking through the bush and up a steep cliff at night in the rain (it's not known as the Wet Coast for nothing!) to get to the colony. Overall though there was a lot of driving involved on the trip, too much rain, not as many birds as we'd hoped for, and we were especially frustrated by our inability to track down a Blue Duck, despite two visits to the perfect location where a pair have been regularly seen. Such is a birder's lot!
|A Kea adult grooming a juvenile.|
|Two of the many Wekas we saw on our trip.|
|Pancake Rocks - it's easy to see how they got their name!|
|Devils Punchbowl Waterfall|
* Miss 20, Miss 15 and I went to the Christmas Tree farm to select a tree. Picking the tree was fairly simple this year, but then we got distracted - bird watching of course! One of the trees had a 'not for sale' sign attached to it since there was a nest it it. So Miss 20 looked on, amused, as Miss 15 and I observed the Redpoll parents feeding their young and one chick testing his wings, hovering above his nest for several seconds at a time. Getting the tree set up in the house was more of a struggle this year for some reason but I do love the smell of pine. It never feels like Christmas until we have the live tree.
* I purchased a gorgeous blank notebook to turn into my diary/planner/journal for next year. I've never been able to find exactly what I wanted in a store so this year, inspired by the bullet journal phenomenon, I made my own. My version looks nothing like a bullet journal but it works for me. I love the notebook I bought for 2016 - lovely pink and silver embossed cover, metal clasps to fasten it shut, and an old fashioned design printed on the edges of the pages. I'm now starting to personalise it which is a fun process.
* Miss 15 and I baked some delicious chocolate candy cane cookies.
* All of the family except me went to see the final Hunger Games movie. I'm not a big fan of the dystopian genre, especially not on the large screen. They all seemed to enjoy it though,
Linking up with the Weekly Wrap-Up over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.