Monday, 27 January 2020

There was an old lady who...

Imagine having an entire island to plant as a garden.

I got my bucket list ticked yesterday as I got to go with Mum and Rita to Tiritiri Matangi Island to see the birds. We saw rifleman, robins, kokakao, tui, giant wetas, fantails, hihi, bellbirds, saddlebacks, blue penguins and more. They were all living in a forest garden planted by volunteers which covered the entire island. A total of 283, 000 trees were planted between 1984-1994, regenerating 60% of the islands forest.
Predators such as rats and cats and stoats and dogs and rabbits were not allowed on the island, so the birds flourished. The birds were flying around (quite low, some weren't very good fliers) and congregating around the water troughs. It's been a hot summer and the ponds had all but dried up. I resolved to keep refilling my own birdbaths so the birds visiting my garden would have some respite from the heat.

We noted lots of native plants like pohutakawa, whiteywood, silver fern ponga, cabbage trees, nikau, flax, kawakawa, karaka and puriri trees. The initial plantings, said the guide were a little too close together and in rows, as nobody had ever replanted an island before and they weren't sure if they would survive.  Then the guide pointed out the wonders of the scrambling muehlenbeckia. Perfect hiding places for ground-dwelling birds and lizards.
"Mum, that's the plant you wanted me to get rid of!'" I said.
I just hope mum came away from the island with a greater appreciation of plants. When we got home I said, I know what's missing from the island - fruit trees! Mum concurred. The guide had said they needed to build feeding stations for the birds in winter because there weren't any nectar available. They filled these stations with sugar water thanks to the Chelsea Sugar factory, but it was like having McDonalds for birds.

I reckoned if they planted more flowering and fruiting trees the birds wouldn't have to fight so much over these fast food stations. They don't have to be native, the tuis would go for cherries (especially Taiwanese cherries) loquats, feijoas, figs,  plums and nectarines..and aside from that where are all the manuka trees? For the bees. But I didn't want to sound unappreciative of all  the volunteers hard work, and the Department of Conservations' pest management practices. But maybe they were a bit too cautious because aside from all the endangered birds they were intent on saving they also needed insects for the birds to eat as well. So now they are introducing more native insects onto the island, to complete the ecosystem.

It reminded me how I knew an old lady that swallowed a fly, and the whole story behind why she would swallow a fly, I don't know why, but then she had to swallow a spider, and a bird, then a rat, then a cat...

The rats had a hard time but I was thinking if the rats did survive being stowed away in a visitor's backpack, wouldn't they be eaten by moreporks? And if there are too many possums and rabbits and deer in the bush can't WE just eat them? We could bring Georgie Pie back for good permanently if they would make a good possum/rabbit/deer meat pie. And if we went back to eating these special edition Georgie Pies nobody would dare use 1080 poison anymore.

I don't know if Rita heard my grand idea. I'm always telling her some pie-in-the-sky idea that would save the planet, and she is a very encouraging friend who never knocks my ideas, which nobody seems to do anything about, but I figured she might have a direct line to someone important, if not God, who will then orchestrate things so that my grand ideas will be implemented and the earth will keep spinning on it's axis.

We don't really need to kill kikuyu with roundup, for example, because Takahe love eating it and  our native skinks like to live in it. And all those weedy flowering plants? Perfect habitat for bees. Slug problem? We just need more ducks. Duck problem? Mum can eat the ducks. Its her favourite dish. By the way - Happy Chinese New Year.  It's  the year of the Rat. Besides if there get to be too many humans on this planet, well, all we need is more tigers and lions and bears to eat the humans.