Friday, 2 March 2012

my humble homage...

Howdy folks,

Being in the final countdown to my PhD thesis hand in date the writing efforts have been ramping up in a fairly major way. I had a paper accepted for publication, and knocked off another chapter this week, so I think I'm winning though. Much as I'm enjoying the writing process (if not the pressure), I've been grateful for a few opportunities to get out of the office and away from the computer. I've been doing some part time contract work for the New Zealand Department of Conservation, and also spent a week in the beautiful Catlins region (South East coast), helping teach an undergraduate ecology field course. With rugged forested hills right down to the coastline with its rocky points and sandy beaches it's a beautiful place both to work and unwind. 

A big part of the New Zealand forest experience comes from one of our most inconspicuous little birds-the grey warbler (Gerygone igata), to which I would like to pay homage. Despite their small size, and inconspicuous behaviour and appearance, their call is one of the most endearing aspects of getting out in the hills. As they are found in forests throughout New Zealand, their call is synonymous with the New Zealand wilderness experience. Waking up in the bush just wouldn't be the same without it. 

Thankfully, grey warblers appear to be relatively resistant to urban development, despite the general trend for insectivorous birds to be fairly sensitive to such environmental change. As such it's not uncommon to hear them in town, and I frequently see (and even more often hear) a resident pair around my office, despite being beside one of the main traffic thoroughfares through town. And even better, there's another resident pair around my home, and they often give me a welcome, relaxing dose of the forest atmosphere while I perform my morning ritual of coffee while reading the news. 

Coincidently, while we're on the topic of urban bird communities, I tagged along with one of my academic supervisors, Yolanda van Heezik, for a New Zealand Radio discussion on urban ecology research, on the weekly 'our changing world' show. Click on the link below to listen to the podcast, and the multi media viewer to enjoy the trilling of the grey warbler. 

till next time, 

bird geek out. 

'our changing world' urban ecology discussion

Grey warbler in the hand, note the diagnostic red eye. 

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