Twin Waters Lodge is now open for guests. Today, it looks as if spring is really here and summer not far away – the sky is blue and it is warming up. With the help of two French Wwoofers, a major clean-up and preparation was done to get everything in shape for the new season. Wwoofers (no, it is not a spelling mistake) are international visitors who work voluntarily in exchange for bed and board. For more information about this scheme, see http://www.wwoof.co.nz/. Following a wet winter there was a lot of growth of our gardens and lawns, and there was a lot of excess vegetation to be dealt with.
Yesterday I heard my first call of the shining cuckoo (pipiwharauroa). This bird has a two part call, the first a series of rising notes and the second a series of falling notes. It is said that if only the first part of the call is heard (as was the case yesterday), there will be fine weather.
The shining cuckoo is not always a welcome arrival. It lays its eggs in the nest of the grey warbler (riroriro). The latter is a much smaller bird, and its entire efforts are taken up with feeding the young shining cuckoo, which very quickly becomes much larger than its foster parent. We had the chance to observe this in the gardens at Twin Waters a few years ago, when a young shining cuckoo sat in the tree just crying for more food, while the tiny grey warbler flew madly around finding food to try to pacify it. Last year, we had an attack of the kowhai beetle on the dwarf kowhai trees in our courtyard. This resulted in an influx of adult shining cuckoos, who seemed to particularly like the caterpillars of the kowhai beetle. More information about this bird, and and audio clip of its call can be found at http://www.nzbirds.com/birds/pipiwharauroa.html.